Sunday, 2 February 2014

Reading, reading, reading galore

I think I might be a little burned out. Which seems like a weird thing to say, considering that my winter hasn't been all that eventful. Is retroactive burnout a thing? And of course it also has something to do with being sick (two bouts of the flu and one cold in January = less than stellar times), but then, there's the whole chicken-and-egg side to it too, right? Maybe I wouldn't have been hit with two bouts of the flu if I hadn't done that crazy little jaunt last fall. Maybe maybe. And there's no doubt I'd also have a bit more energy if the days were sunny and warm, or at least warmer than they've been!

At any rate, for most of January I found it difficult to do things. Difficult to write, difficult to think about the New Novel, difficult to motivate myself to get out of my cozy little apartment. (Or maybe I'm not burned out at all, but just suffering through the usual winter blues.)

I have, however, been reading.

Reading! READING! You know, that delicious activity where you sit in a chair with a warm cup of tea or coffee or cider nearby, crack open that pretty pile of paper, and lose yourself for hours at a time. It's been lovely. I think I read a total of five books or so last year (gasp, I know), but now I am already on Book Six for 2014. Huzzah!

It feels so luxurious. When did this happen? When did I start thinking of reading as an activity to be done once All Of The Other Things were finished? My mother used to talk like that, and I wanted to stamp my foot and deny it.

No! I wanted to say. Reading is not a reward! Reading IS the reward! Reading should be enjoyed at any time! Anyplace! Anywhere! And now look -- last year was an exercise in avoidance. I did exactly that -- I saved my books until everything else had been finished, until the dishes had been done and the house had been vacuumed and the garbage taken out.

This year, I am not going to let that happen. Here's a tally of the books that I've read so far:

1) Three Souls, by Janie Chang: a lovely, luscious exploration of one woman's life in 1930s China.I finished this book and then spent the next few nights dreaming of bamboo groves -- it's that rich and steeped in detail.

2) Red Rising, by Pierce Brown: the first installment in what is surely poised to be the Next Big Sci-Fi Trilogy. I enjoyed it a great deal -- it's fast-paced (I finished it in a day because I couldn't bear to put it down), vivid, and has a hell of a premise. I did feel like it went on a tad too long -- most of the battle scenes/strategies sounded the same to me by the end -- but that's a relatively minor complaint. Already looking forward to the next one.

3) All The Broken Things, by Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer. What do you get when you mix bear wrestling with a story about a Vietnamese refugee and his disabled sister? A magical, wistful novel that's as sad as it is wondrous. I thought about these characters for days after I finished -- particularly Orange. Read the book to find out what I mean.

4) Bone and Bread, by Saleema Nawaz. This book has been on my TBR pile for a while, and I'm so glad I finally got the chance to delve into it. One of the things that I love about reading is the chance that you get to identify with so many different people and characters, and the way that different storylines nonetheless manage to grab, seduce and reduce you to someone whose world becomes just that much more different as a result of the reading experience. Saleema's story about two sisters -- one introverted, one impossibly charismatic and ill -- will stay with you for a long time. I guarantee it.

5) The Bear, by Claire Cameron. Another book that I finished in one day. Full disclosure: cried at the end. You probably will too.
At this point, books are pretty much the only thing that's redeeming the winter for me. Too cold/icy to go outside? No matter. As long as I have food in the fridge and books at my fingertips, everything will be okay...


  1. I know exactly what you mean about feeling burned out or just unmotivated, whether by the weather or whatever. I've been feeling the same. And I've been reading some too, aside from working. Today is the first day I have off in ages, and I could write fiction or a review or something, but I'm finding it difficult to get past the resistance, which to me is inexplicable but there.

    I'm so glad you're reading. You deserve the break and enjoyment (some great books there!), and I hope that you're feeling up to snuff soon.


  2. Thanks Steph! Here's to a swift end to the winter blahs. And to hell with whatever Wiarton Willie has to say about six more weeks of winter. :)