It’s reaching that time of the month when us bookish people start to set out what we plan on reading in the weeks ahead. As a keen Bookstagrammer who sticks to a couple of photo challenges for inspiration, I am used to post at least one photo at the start of every new month to show off the books in my monthly TBR. Now, I know there are people out there who will stick religiously to whatever they pick at that point but I’m not one of them. In fact, each of my TBR Instagram posts just tend to be a random selection of books that I kind of want to read but know, deep in my heart, that I won’t be doing it any time soon. It’s just a routine I’ve found myself in. But this month is worse than other months. Because I’m in the middle of a major reading slump. I’m currently still reading Frankenstein in Baghdad: a book that I actually opened for the first time towards the end of March. Fucking March, guys! That was ages ago. So, I’m feeling a little more stressed than normal about my selection this month. And, as we all know, stress isn’t something that really helps in a slump.
I don’t know what has caused this monumental breakdown in reading recently but I know that work hasn’t helped. I’ve had to take on extra responsibility in light of staff shortages and it’s super stressful. It’s not something I was expecting to have to do for as long as I have and my manager is, basically, taking advantage. Nowadays, I get home, write my blog on the days I need to, collapse in front of Netflix, and then crawl into bed. I know I shouldn’t be bingeing as much as I am doing right now but it’s all I have the energy for. I can’t count the number of times I’ve started to fall asleep mid-chapter and this isn’t exactly the kind of book you can sleep-read through. So I’ve been restarting the same chapter for a few nights in a row but finding the same thing happening every time. It means I’m not missing anything important but it does mean I’m making slow progress.
Now, normally, if a book was taking me this long to finish I would probably just stop reading it and move on. I decided last year that I was at an age now where I didn’t need to keep pursuing books that I was never going to get on board with. I no longer need to push myself to finish something because I’m only reading for pleasure. The problem at the moment is that I’m really enjoying Frankenstein in Baghdad. It’s a really well-written and interesting book that adapts the classic story in a really cool way. It depicts the life in war-torn Iraq so well and uses the themes of Mary Shelley’s original book to get important points across. It’s not like I’m in this slump because I don’t want to read it. It’s the opposite I guess. I want to read this book so much that I don’t want to half-arse it.
It’s just that I’m not in the right frame of mind to do it. It’s not exactly been a golden time lately and it’s harder than ever to get the motivation to do anything. Even the things I love are seeming like hard work. I’m not even binge watching anything really interesting. I’m just watching old episodes of shows I’ve seen countless times. Hell, at the moment there’s a list of great Netflix shows I want to watch and Benedict Cumberbatch is starring in a sexy and gritty new drama and I can’t stop watching fucking Top Gear. It’s not just a reading slump I’m in; it’s a life slump.
So, how do I get out of it? A quick search of the internet for the term “book slump” reveals that people are quick to keep offering advice on the subject. As if there is some easy answer to the issue. When I mention it on Instagram my bookish friends are all helpfully offering suggestions too. We’ve all experienced book slumps and have a deep desire to help others get out of them. It’s a reason to love the community. I’m grateful to everyone but I do have one problem. All of the advice seems to centre on the idea that I need to start a new book. That the key to my lack of inspiration is the reading material itself.
That creates a problem for me. I know a lot of you out there will be multiple-book readers. The kind of people who will always have at least 3 books on the go and who, quite possibly, have a different book for a certain time or place. If that’s true then I applaud you. I used to be you. I had to be. When you study Literature then you get used to having to speed read several novels in one week. I’m amazed I managed it and know for a fact that I so often didn’t. Since I finished university I decided it was time I started thinking different about reading. I didn’t like the kind of reader I was when I was always skipping between different books. I didn’t feel like I was focused enough on each story because there were always so many different narratives in my head. I decided the best thing for me and my books was to officially become monogamous.
Which is a problem in a situation like this. If I hated Frankenstein in Baghdad then I’d just put it on a shelf and forget about it. But I don’t. I love it. So I’ve got to stay faithful. That means any advice on how to get out of a reading slump is just impossible. Try a different book you say? Reread an old favourite? Oh I’d love to but I’m in a committed relationship with the book I’ve been reading for over a month now. We’re very much in love, haven’t you heard? So how does the monogamous reader get out of reading slump? I guess the same way that people stay married for 50+ years. Hard work, compromise, and separate bedrooms. Well it’s as good a piece of advice as any that I’ve already got I suppose.
Who is Murdocal? A casual critic who is a little bit too obsessed with pop culture. A young woman who swears and rants much more than she knows she should whilst trying to make her way in an adult world she isn't prepared for. A not as recent as she'd like literature graduate who, between job applications and subsequent rejections, has turned to the internet to fight the boredom and review the shit out of everything.
"Maybe, just maybe, I'm the faller. Every family has someone who falls, who doesn't make the grade, who stumbles, who life trips up. Maybe I'm our faller."