I am doomed. I can’t seem to finish reading most of the books I pick up. I can’t do it. And I used to read between fifty and one hundred books a year. Last year, I started thirty and completed four.
I get shit sometimes for reading multiple books at once. But I’ve always had the belief that all books require a certain attitude or mood. So, I’ll start something that speaks to me, and if I can’t struggle past the first few chapters, I’ll put it down for another time. Once, I finished a book four years later, sporadically struggling through a few chapters at a time. As it turns out, the book developed into quite the story by the end. The last seventy-five pages flew by, and I was glad to stick it out.
The majority aren’t so lucky, and I often wonder what’s wrong with me. Why can’t I read?
Then, those books come along that sucker punch you right in the kidneys. The Hunger Games was one. Divergent was another. The Testing, Cinder, The Clockwork Scarab, and Feed, etc. They have a rather distinct theme—young adult, satirical, dystopian fiction. This is my brightest of geek buttons, and if I ever decide to go for my PhD, this is what my dissertation will focus on. Ask me for a book to read, and most of them will be in this niche. Just saying.
Anyways, the reason for the massive DNF pile is my equally large list of pet peeves: dialogue tags and adverbs—especially together—passive voice, vague words, and missing Oxford commas. Believe me, the list is rather extensive.
Instead of wallowing on this inability to read, I need to learn to focus on those moments when a writer can capture me despite the faults I might find in their style or grammar—ones that remind me that my voice is not the only voice—ones that make me throw away my editing pencil for the cats to play with and feel the adrenaline of being surprised by a story.
I had two of those moments this year, and I’m concerned that it’s already June…maybe the two-day train ride without my laptop will help.
Anyways, the first was Red Queen, which I’m almost finished with and will review soon. Man, this had character and a world I’m not used to seeing. A mix of mutants, future dystopia, and a medieval system. Plus that snarky, quick-witted, and rebellious female lead that I love all too much. *Coughs* Ria*Coughs.* Since I first wrote about this in my March newsletter, I’m still almost done with the novel. I ran out of steam again, and I don’t know why, but I’ll get there.
The second book that gripped me probably harder than a book has in the last few years was Like Clockwork, and I had the privilege of publishing this novella. Before you know it, this story has its nails in you, and it drags you, stumbling behind, until the very last word. And by the way, I read the story at least seven times, and the layers Ali needed to deliver the blow that he does grew more and more complex with each read. He truly did a brilliant job.
So, tell me, do you read more than one book at a time? How do you overcome reader’s block?