Slumpish Reading Adventures

Reading slumps. Urgh. Who’d have ‘em?

Except that I’m not exactly in a Slump right now, just feeling less than my usual rampant enthusiasm for all things Book. I’m feeling slumpish. If I try to pinpoint what’s causing this mood (and, of course, I do), I think it’s just been a bit of a year so far. Not a bad year, just one with a lot of changes, (job, kitchen, other house stuff, an increase in certain filial duties and an associated change in lifestyle, and an occasional bone-deep weariness that I’m pretty sure is just an overload thing because I don’t handle changes very well).

In conversation with a friend last week, she floated the idea that we go through periods of input and output: sometimes we’re gathering information, feeding our brains with new sights and sounds, taking in and loading up; other times we’re expressing and creating, having assimilated all that input, or just giving our time, energy and care, our mental and physical energy. And for sanity’s sake, these times of input and output need to be fairly evenly balanced. (Observation of a personal nature number one: I’ve noticed that I get a bit like this every year, and usually at around the same time. Almost as if I have a personal ebb and flow of energy, irrespective of what’s going on IRL. Interesting (to me), but requires further study).

Book blogging follows this input-output rhythm quite neatly, I think. We absorb/inhale books, then express our feelings, good or bad. But it can also be tiring, always reading with a view to what you’ll say about it later. And I think that’s where I’ve been at recently. So for the last few weeks, I have been reading/listening to books just for fun, with no view to writing lengthy posts about characterisation and world-building or what kind of pictures these books have created in my brain.

And I’m feeling reinvigorated. Which is nice.

 

So, what have I been reading?

Naturally, I’m now going to share with you everything I’ve read. With notes.

Graphic novels are my go-to when I feel like I’m not achieving. Not only are they an easy win, but they also engage my visual interest, which is sometimes all my poor tired brain needs to get back in the game.

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Saga and Isola have both been keeping me entertained and out of mischief, but I have more than a tuppenceworth of appreciation to share, so will post about them separately. Mooncakes by Wendy Xu, Suzanne Walker and Joamette Gil, on the other hand, was adorable (and I need Nova’s grandmothers in my life), but that’s really all I have to say. Sweet and cute and comforting.

 

I can almost play six degrees of separation with the next few reads:

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The Conductors by Nicola Glover was a 12 Challenge read that I started just as I was beginning to feel weary/unenthused/slumpish, so I decided not to bother taking notes and just read it through. Which was probably the best thing to do. I really liked the main characters Hetty and Benjy, but wasn’t overly interested or impressed with the central mystery (which didn’t make a great deal of sense when all was said and done). I thought the celestial magic was pretty cool, however, and I loved that Hetty was a seamstress.

 

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Following on from Hetty’s handmade dresses, I then picked up Patch Work: A Life Amongst Clothes by Claire Wilcox, who is a curator of fashion at the V&A Museum. This didn’t give me as much insight into the inner workings of the museum as I was hoping for, but it was an unexpectedly beautiful memoir – quite literally a random patchwork of Wilcox’s memories.

 

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Then from one non-fiction read to another, with the importance of clothing still very much at the forefront, I listened to Gentleman Jack: The Real Ann Lister by Anne Choma (read by Eva Pope and Erin Shanagher) because I want to watch the television series, but haven’t as yet.

 

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I also haven’t seen the Enola Holmes movie yet, so next I dug out Enola Holmes and the Case of the Missing Marquis by Nancy Springer, which was lots of fun. Enola and Ann Lister have quite a bit in common, both being clever women wanting independence. I particularly appreciated Enola’s clever use of “bust enhancer, dress improver and hip regulators”, as well as her bustle, to conceal her baggage and her secret wealth. In fact, all the talk of Victorian women’s clothing had me chuckling (although it’d be no laughing matter if I had to wear any of it, for sure).

 

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More talk of corsets in My Plain Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton and Jodi Meadows, which I haven’t finished reading yet. These three American authors are having far too much fun with the literature of my historic countrywomen – and I’m loving it. Interestingly, Bramwell Bronte plays a role in both this story and …

 

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… in this one: The Wisteria Society for Lady Scoundrels by India Holton, which I listened to while finishing off some kitchen DIY jobs last week. It’s read by Elizabeth Knowelden, whose tone and comic timing had me laughing out loud, and it’s about flying houses and lady pirates, which had me enraptured. My only reservation is that it got … *ahem* … rude. And not just a little bit.

 

Observation of a personal nature number two: it would seem that I lean towards historical adventure/fantasy when feeling down in the dumps. Something to take into account when I start to feel slumpish again. Perhaps I can arrange my reading stacks to take advantage of this? *strokes chin in thought*

 

Anyway, tell me, my bookish friends, what do you do when you get slumpish? Do you have a go-to genre? Do you reread comfort books?

 

18 comments

  1. But it can also be tiring, always reading with a view to what you’ll say about it later.

    Oh now, isn’t that the truth. A month or two ago I tried to limit my reviews to the “liked it, didn’t like it” variety and it was refreshing. Not that I’d want to do that all the time, but there’s definitely an allure to just recording that I read a book without having to talk all about it.

    I hope this slump feeling passes soon…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Liked your snapshots of things read, including the biog of Anne Lister which – if it’s the same one I have – I got two-thirds of the way through after the first series and then unaccountably stopped. I really must complete it.

    As for slumps, that too goes through stages for me, possibly correlating with the summer when interaction with my blog through likes and comments tends to reduce significantly, leading me to doubt what exactly I’m about. I tend to reread old standbys, mainly genre fiction like children’s fantasies and modern classic SFF. Oh, and lots of novella-length titles (which at the moment include works by the likes of Muriel Spark, say, and Simenon).

    Liked by 1 person

    • Let’s hear it for rereading old favourites to get us through!

      I notice a similar dip in interaction during the summer – I guess people like to get out in the sunshine while
      they can 😊 – but as this often coincides with this slumpishness, I don’t really pay it any attention.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I also go through the same phases (usually at the same time of the year, every year) reading/blogging-wise. When it’s the case, I just read what I’m in the mood for without any regards for any challenge or TBR. Usually reading romance, thrillers or literary fiction is a good way for me to ‘palate cleanse”. Sometimes I just don’t read it and I catch-up on other things (TV shows, K-dramas etc.). 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • It’s comforting not to be alone in these changes in mood. ❤
      And I agree with the need for a palate cleanse every once in a while. That’s a good way of putting it. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m with you on feeling slumpy and not much in the mood for bookish things. I’ve been feeling that way all year, but it got worst couple weeks ago. Now, I think it’s clearing up, hence me getting back to blog hopping and hopefully I’ll do a post one day. I like your friend’s input/output idea.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sorry, caught tge send button mid sentence!
      It’s good to hear that you feel it’s clearing up. Maybe we all follow these sorts of rhythms in one way or another, and we just have to learn what ours is.

      Like

  5. Feels like everyone’s feeling slumpish.

    I very much agree with your friend’s assessment of periods in which we take in and periods in which we digest. And summer does tend to be an input time for many of us! I hope the lifestyle chances you’ve had to go through settle and you stop feeling so tired too.

    I also agree about the change of pace thing. Mine has been non-fiction and non-fantasy. I’m calling it at the end of the month, but I think I’ll stick to settling up on my ARCs, novellas, and rereads for at least another month. It’s been nice and refreshing, and I think part of the niceness is deliberately making a change.

    Finally on the slumpy feeling… I think to a certain extent, we feed off each other’s enthusiasm. The more we bounce at each other like excited dogs, the less slumpy we feel, and the more slumpy we feel, the less we bounce.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. “Periods of input and output” – that is a lovely way to put it. I find this description extremely relevant to my year so far as well, what with so many life changes and so little blogging. I was not reading much until about June, and now I am finally feeling ready to do some writing. When I was feeling ‘slumpish’ (for most of 2021 and half of this year), there wasn’t much to be done about it. I just wait it out.

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