Reading slumps

Have you ever gone from reading several books a week to all of a sudden struggling to finish one in a month? Sure you have. And so I have. I’m there right now.

Up until September, I read and read and read. I devoured books the way I’ve always done. I read every day and listened to my audiobooks every morning when biking to work. But then I stopped. I just didn’t get any reading done. I finished the audiobook and was struggling to decide what to start next since cancelling my audiobook streaming subscription, so I switched to listening to music. I would try reading before bed, but would be too tired to read more than a couple of pages. Someone told me not to worry about it, as there’s “more to life than reading”. I suppose that’s technically true (unfortunately). What’s also true is that there aren’t enough hours in a day. I think that’s what caused my slump. At least partially.

garn2

Those of you who know me are probably aware that I have a ton of hobbies. I crochet, cross-stitch, write letters (I’m always behind on these and always feel guilty about it), blog – except there’s no blogging without reading, play my computer a lot, and as if those hobbies weren’t enough, I’ve discovered papercutting. So of course I had to take that up. Couple all of that with the fact that Christmas is approaching rapidly. Yes it is! It definitely is if you’re planning to do homemade presents. I am and I started early to avoid stressing out the last couple of weeks before Christmas… like last year. Unfortunately, but totally predictably, my ambition levels adjusted to match (maybe) the amount of time left before Christmas. So now I have a whole bunch of papercutting and crocheting to do. Some to be done before December, some just in time for Christmas Eve. Not that I’m skilled enough to do cuts to give away, so I need practice time too. Am I the only one who just can’t seem to stop finding new hobbies? And stress out about prioritizing? How do you do it? Any tips would be great, unless they’re “give up that hobby” or “take more methamphetamine” – both have been considered and rejected.

(If I owe you a letter, sorry, I’ll get around to it).

papirklip

garn1

My hobbies are not solely to blame. For months I eagerly anticipated the release of the newest Jonathan Franzen novel Purity. I was a huge fan of Freedom and a lesser fan of The Corrections, so I was fairly excited. And more than fairly disappointed. I’ll review the book in its entirety one of these days. But for now I’ll say that the first 100 pages of it had me so bored and annoyed that I struggled to make any headway. But having waited so long for that book, I refused to give it up. Not that I’m generally against giving up on books that you just can’t get through. They might turn out to be worth the effort in the end, or they might not, but you won’t know if you quit. You also won’t get back the reading time you sacrificed if they continue to be crap. I rarely quit on books, but I do occasionally put them aside for another time where they might be more suited to my mood. What do you think? Do you quit books or struggle through the no matter how boring or terrible they are?

But I didn’t give up on Purity. I’ll give you the rest of that thrilling story soon. Suffice to say that Franzen contributed greatly to my reading block for more than a month.

So there you have it. Christmas presents, crafting, Franzen and not being able to give up sleep all caused me to finish one book this past month. Yes, one. Insane, isn’t it? I think I’m out of the woods now that I have finished it, but next up on my reading list is a 1200 pager I’ve been trying to save for December, but I just don’t think I can do it. So you never know, I may only finish one book in October and November too. Maybe I’ll turn this into a Christmas and crafting blog. Wouldn’t you just love that?

 

 

Audiobooks – what are they good for?

audiobooks

When I was a kid I used to love listening to audiobooks. I would color in my coloring books or do other kiddy crafts while being read to by the casette player. Then came a long period without audiobooks. Music took their place in my walkman and discman, and I developed my obsession with the printed book. Then came university and more books. Only when I was writing my Master’s thesis did I rediscover the joys of the audiobook-coloring book combination. That’s right, at the age of 24 I took up coloring My Little Pony and Disney princesses while listening to Harry Potter. All the while doing my thesis on Pynchon and Heller. And I’m not at all ashamed! Just look how adult coloring books are popping up all over the place. People are now realizing, as I did, that coloring is very relaxing and doing it while listening to books even more so.

I don’t color these days, but I do loads of crafts that would take time away from my reading. With the rediscovery of the audiobook I can read and crochet at the same time. That means I can get through even more books! How amazing is that? Well, I’m not sure. It’s definitely a nice change from the constantly Netflix-listening, but does it actually compared to reading? Perhaps not. Maybe my mind wanders without me realizing, making me miss parts of the book. You definitely lose that sense of immersion that sitting with a real book allows for. The feel of the pages is a big part of reading. But I’m also discovering books I probably wouldn’t have otherwise. I’ve discovered books so amazing that I’ve had to buy the printed one, so I can read it for real some day. And I’ve encountered narrators who brought the books to life in a way I’m not sure my inner voice can. Yes, occasionally I miss stuff, sometimes the app messes up and I have to try and find my way back, and books take a long time to read aloud, so it is slow going at times. And I will admit that I won’t purchase audiobooks – they’re simply too expensive compared to real books that look very nice on my shelves. But streaming services like Storytel and Mofibo allow you to shop around, discover new things and just skip a book if the first few “pages” don’t tickle your fancy. Ok, I’ve just cancelled my subscription to Storytel due to their faulty app and disappointing selection of English titles. But I’m thinking about trying Audible and sticking to really long audiobooks so I can settle for that one freebie a month.

For me, audiobooks serve as a nice supplement to my “real” reading, in situations where my hands are busy with other things. Of course, there are still books I would never listen to (unless I’ve also read them). Some books deserve the attention and commitment real reading requires. Some books deserve a place in the bookcases. And to be completely honest, audiobooks could never satisfy my need to collect.

What do you think? Are audiobooks as good printed books? When you do like listening to audiobooks, if at all? If you don’t, why not? And if anyone knows of other decent streaming services, let me know!