A restless mind

You’ll all be thrilled to learn that I’ve been sticking to my blogging goals through these two whole weeks of the new year.


I know, I know

Actually, it’s been more that I’ve continued to feel restless in my reading. I can’t seem to get comfortable staying with one book for any length of time. So yes, I’ve stuck to my goal of walking away from books (two so far) but I’m not sure that I’d qualify it as a win.

Part of the issue is that I can’t decide what it is that I want to read.

With all the sh*t hitting the fan around the globe, do I want something that allows me to escape? Do I want to run off with light beach reads? Will Sophie Kinsella, Maeve Binchy, Jane Austen and Alexander McCall Smith be my constant companions? Do I want books that make me laugh and ask nothing more of me than that I enjoy myself? Is it time to return to Hogwarts?

Or do I want something more serious to show that I am taking things seriously? Do I want my reading to reflect the work that needs doing? Will my reading be the one thing that I can focus on and have a modicum of control over? Should I be looking for lists like this and this?

Or should I be focusing on books that bring me joy? Will books that take me to a dark place be detrimental? Should I be throwing myself into crime fiction, where terrible things happen to women? Or reading books that lift women up?

My mind wanders when I read, too. I used to be better at shutting the world out. Even while reading The Taming of the Queen by Philippa Gregory (a book I already owned), I was thinking less about the story in front of me, and more about the parallels between old, angry, deranged, stinking Henry VIII and our very own version of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named.

It’s infuriating.

I refuse to allow reading to be tainted this way. But I think it’s going to be a bit of a struggle for a while.

What about you? Are you having these troubles? Have you figured it out yet?

24 thoughts on “A restless mind

  1. I go through phases like this. I’ll pick up a book, decide I don’t like it two pages in, then pick up another, decide I don’t like it … and this pattern will repeat for an entire evening! In those situations I usually recalibrate by reading books by favourite authors (Jennifer Johnston, usually) or something fast-paced like a psychological thriller. Hope you find your reading mojo soon!

  2. I’m wandering around in my reading a bit too. Right now, I’m reading 2 books at once, which means for me that neither one is fully grabbing me. This is after a couple disappointing ARCs.
    Hope something sticks with you soon – sometimes it helps me to go backlist during times like this.

    • It helps to know I’m not the only one! Didn’t I just see on twitter that something finally stuck? It seems to me that the worst part is when I have to choose the next book. My indecision, restlessness and irrational fear of choosing the ‘wrong’ one come together for a perfect storm. Hope it starts to look up for the both of us!

  3. Oh God, those book lists look depressing. They remind me of the time (many years ago, when my kids were still really little) I was reading a lot of nonfiction about the environmental crisis, and I became so depressed about it that I felt like no matter what we did, we were all doomed. I wanted to read about it, so I would be in a better position to *do* something (and teach my kids what to do), but it backfired on me. Don’t let that happen to you! Read something that will make you happy, at least in between all those serious books. What good are we to the world, if we’re all miserable and depressed?
    I hope you find something soon! 🙂

    • That’s a really good point and goes some way to describing how I do feel. I spent a lot of the past year reading about sexual assault and rape culture and race relations and that left me exactly where? Horrified, a little depressed, overwhelmed and feeling helpless. I will try to make sure that I read some uplifting books in the middle because you’re totally right about all of this.

  4. I’m so totally lost. I’m learning that I’m just not ready for “real world” reading if that makes sense so totally losing myself in ridiculous YA or fantasy rereads. Have you read the Thursday Next series? I adore them though they’re incredibly bizarre at times. I want a book world to hide out in. And btw I totally consider it a win to walk away from books that you’re not feeling. Life is not long enough to read things that aren’t making you happy or at least teaching you something you want to know.

    • I can only imagine, Amanda! It sounds like you’re making the right call by reading stuff that is totally outside of your reality. I hope that it goes some way to helping you get through the really shitty days. I’ve often told others that life is too short to read stuff you don’t like but it’s hard to take your own advice isn’t it? Thanks for the reminder!

  5. You should see the stack of books next to my bed! I read the first few chapters of a book and then set it aside to search for something else. I have a hard time focusing on just one book, just like you. I’ve decided to just go with the flow and continue sampling until I find the right one, without wondering whether it’s the one I *should* be reading right now. Take advantage of all the books you own; there must be a book that fits just right, no matter what it is about.

    • I try to sample my books when I first bring them home but don’t do much of it when it comes to choosing the next read. An unintended consequence of book blogging and keeping track of my reading is that I have a hard time reading anything that doesn’t ‘count’. It’s something that I need to think about less because in the end, does it matter?
      Maybe I will try your way and start sampling more often.

  6. “My mind wanders when I read, too. I used to be better at shutting the world out.”

    Same problem here. I’m re-reading a series that I really like, and we fixed up our little dining room-turned-library/reading nook with new lamps and blankets, but… even with all that I still find my mind wandering, usually into some anxiety/depression trap or another.

    • Ohhhhh sounds like you have a lovely space to read in. I love my reading corner! A lot of my life feels in limbo right now and I think that’s bleeding into my reading. Even my lovely reading corner is a bit tainted as we look towards the future in a new home that we still need to find!

  7. I quite understand the torment of not being able to settle into any one book. I went through this the first week of the year, and then put my foot down and am methodically working my way through my TBR.

    • It’s a special kind of torment isn’t it? And completely brought on by ourselves. Maybe I need to be more methodical about it but I’m not a really methodical person. I’m a Pisces! I maybe need to embrace my fluid nature a bit more and just allow myself more leeway.

  8. I think you already know…yes. I can’t commit to much of anything. I’m flat out short tempered with books- either they work RIGHT AWAY or I’m out. Sadly, it is the more challenging stuff that is getting tossed.

    I read Taming during the election and had the same thoughts as you. I could not believe the parallels. Both disgusting, egomaniacal, sexual predators unbothered by shame or their own hypocrisy.

    On a brighter note- I just finished Bellweather Rhapsody thanks to you. What a delight! Much needed reading happiness. Thank you!!

    • I know. Comfort in numbers? I do take some comfort in knowing that we’re not the only ones but also I’m frustrated by it and would like to find joy in my favourite activity.
      Taming kind of backfired on me that way! The parallels were so strong.
      Bellweather Rhapsody really was such a delight. I’m so glad that it worked for you! We need more Bellweather Rhapsodys!

  9. Pingback: Easy on the heart: The Marriage Bureau | The Paperback Princess

  10. Oh lady – you are speaking right to me! I feel this exact thing too. I get into bed at night, exhausted and sometimes frustrated, and the last thing I want to do is pick up something that will soothe me. And yet, I feel my ignorance in so many aspects of life more profusely than ever before. So I have another stack of books to educate me. During my day at work, I think of all the books that will help me learn and make better decisions and how I can’t wait to read them, then I get home and, like you said, just want to read about Hogwarts. Maybe keeping two books on the go would help? One for comfort, one for knowledge and pick which one you are swinging toward in your current mood? I do that sometimes. Though it takes longer to actually get through anything.. hmph.

  11. Something that I was reading online recently mentioned that the third week of January is a real post-holiday slump, later than people tend to expect. Maybe there’s also some stress related to the “did I keep my resolution” thing that tends to strike about now too, when one realises that January is trekking along and maybe we aren’t doing all the things we dreamed of doing when it was December 31? I’m not having these troubles, exactly, but I took forever to finish the stuff I was reading at the end of 2016 and the reading I’d gathered to enjoy over the holidays, so I’m not even really IN 2017 yet. That’s a rather different problem. But still a little frustrating. Good luck settling into something!

    • Yeah – Blue Monday! It’s when people have given up on their resolutions, the days are super dark and their bills from the holidays start arriving. Since I wrote this, things seem to be looking up on the reading front. Hesitant to say that I’ve got my reading mojo back but I feel better about the direction I’m travelling in!

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