Books, For Readers

Pardon Me, While My Brain Turns to Mush

 [picapp align=”left” wrap=”false” link=”term=dunce+cap&iid=5289222″ src=”http://view.picapp.com/pictures.photo/image/5289222/dunce-cap-stool-corner/dunce-cap-stool-corner.jpg?size=500&imageId=5289222″ width=”380″ height=”380″ /]

Boy, can I tell it’s summer!  I’m starting to hear things like, “more funner” and, “What’s 3×9, again?” seeping from my kids’ mouths when they don’t think I’m listening.  By virtue of not being in the classroom every day, they think it’s OK to not “think school” (or act like they’ve ever attended).  Such utterances make me want to beat their behinds with a dictionary.  But, it’s not just the kids who are taking an education vacation this season.  My brain seems to have switched to sleep-mode, too.  

I may still (mostly) speak with proper grammar, and I do know what 3×9 equals (29, right?), but I haven’t been doing what it is I do for fun and keep my brain from turning to mush — I haven’t been reading!  In fact, I almost seem to be avoiding books.  I’ve muddled through a few, but lately, every time I try to start a new one (or an old favorite), my brain resists and shuts down.  I’m a person who would normally choose to read the back of a tic-tac box over and over again, rather than read nothing at all.  Has the whole world gone mad?!

I wish I could pin-point the exact reasons for this change;  Am I (shudder) turning into a nature-lover?  Imbibing in too many summer spirits?  Kicking back a little too much?   Not only relaxing, I’ve been writing a lot more, too, which is biting dramatically into any left-over reading time.  My days still begin and end with words, but now they’re my own.  This is good and bad.  Good that I’m writing, but bad, because sometimes my own words just plain stink.  Bad, that I’m not enjoying something that I always enjoy.  Bad, because to become a better writer, you need to be an excellent reader. 

Given all of these negatives, I can only assume that I’ve come down with a condition.  Yes, a legitimate condition that I’m certain can be found somewhere on the internet.  Voila!  “Reader Burn-Out” — a disease which (for some strange reason) elicits an image of long hair, half-shut eyes and strange smells wafting about. 

A few weeks ago, I would have scoffed at such an idea — who could ever get tired of reading?  And, definitely, it could never happen to me.  Yet, I’m living testimony, folks, and am in need of an intervention.

So, has anyone else out there suffered from “Reader Burn-Out?”  What were the books that cured you?  Which books do you turn to when nothing else appeals?

Thanks for your input, and Happy(?) Reading…

(I apologize that I couldn’t get the link to “Reader Burn-Out” to work.  Check out goodreads.com, to find an abundance of whining discussion on this topic in their forums…)

21 thoughts on “Pardon Me, While My Brain Turns to Mush”

  1. At times I can go for six months without reading anything but a newspaper. Other times I binge. I read Davinci Code in less than 24 hours and worked two 8.5 hour shifts. Of course I took the book to work with me. Sometimes the brain needs a vacation usually for most people much less than my six months. I read mysteries and/or suspense to bring myself back to reading. Dan Brown, Tom Clancy in his prime, John Grisham, but no Stephen King, he could drive you away for a year. Good Luck.

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  2. Unfortunately I have been in reading burn out mode for about 7 years now. Or maybe that’s how long other things (read, kids), have had my attention. I am sincerely looking forward to getting into reading mode once again.

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  3. I’ve been in a bit of a slump myself. A whole list, a big pile, and… nothing jumping out at me. I might hit up The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets Nest. I thoroughly enjoyed the other books but am loathe for that series to be over for me. Have you read either of Tara French’s books? I liked hers too. Or, Kate Atkinson?

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    1. I have “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” here — just haven’t started it. I know about “the list” — my notebook is filling up, and I need to get to it! Thanks for the suggestions~

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  4. Wait, “more funner” is wrong?

    But no, seriously, I’m glad to find a fellow grammar stickler and avid reader. It’s refreshing!

    I used to get the illness of which you speak – haven’t in a few years, for some reason. The cure I usually used was a really light read. I mean, really really light. Something fun that you don’t really need to concentrate too hard on. Something like a short romance novel or a thriller. Jonathan Kellerman, for instance, is a really good psychological thriller writer – all his books are very much alike, but they’re great for light reading. Basically, I recommend airplane books.

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  5. Great, and funny post!!! Fortunately, I’ve never suffered from reader burnout. I have suffered from “reader who wants to read but doesn’t have anything in her house.”

    And I loved the stuff about your kids. In fact, just today I sat my daughter down and gave her a deck of multiplication flash cards and made her go through the entire stack.

    One thing about school, the kids complain a little (a very little) less about doing school stuff. Every day I have a battle with my son to get him to read for a measly half an hour.

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  6. Reading something light would usually be my cure, too, when I can’t figure out what to read next (Bridget Jones’ Diary-ish, etc.), but it’s not working this time. I’m sure my affliction will pass…it better! Thanks for stopping by~

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  7. I started to experience “reader burn out” when I started writing. I found it very hard to concentrate on reading other’s books when I was in the process of writing my novel. I’ve taken quite a long break but I will be reading sometime soon, though not sure when. Of course, the only “reading” I am doing at the moment is blogs and my own novel.
    P.S I stopped knowing the multiplication tables when I was 8 lol

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  8. I go through phases. Sometimes I’ll gobble up books constantly, other times I have 4 books on the go at the same time that I’ll randomly read, and other times I just write. I just go with it. It can’t hurt, right? 🙂

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  9. Sometimes I think if I see another book or try to pick up a pen ever again or look at a blank page on the computer screen I’ll go insane … and sometimes I just can’t get enough of any of them and there are not enough hours in the day for all my literary goals.

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  10. Uh oh. This Lisa has long hair and slitty eyes, two out of three symptoms of RBO. And I probably only wish I didn’t smell funny…

    TOL (The Other Lisa) swears by a strict diet of non-fiction when she’s behind the keyboard because she feels fiction will influence her writing.

    This Lisa tends to agree, although it has not stopped me from opening up brand new, never before read books and screaming, “ARRRRUGH! I just wrote that VERY same line!” “ARRRUGH! I just wrote on that very same obscure topic!” (you get the point)

    You’d think I’d learn, but no, I can’t resist. So our broad philosophy is that yes, you have to be a reader to be a writer, but no, you don’t necessarily have to read while you’re writing, unless you’re slightly masochistic like one of us.

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    1. You two bring up some great points! I often find myself writing what I think is going to be the killer comedy scene of the century, and then I think, “Wait. I think I just read that somewhere.” Or, even, “Did I just see that on Scooby Doo?” Nonfiction might be the way to go, because I don’t think I want to go cold turkey, and I’m slightly masochistic…thanks, ladies!

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  11. When in a rut, I always fall back on my old friends Harry Potter or Percy Jackson (yes, I am a 36-year-old woman, and I love books written for 12-year-old boys!) Also, and I’ll probably get kicked out of the literary blogosphere for this one, but I’m not afraid to admit that I had a ball with the Twilight series!

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  12. Hi Amanda

    Yep, (Sorry – Yes, or my Nan will shout at me!)
    I suffer from it too at times. I wander aimlessly picking up books, reading a paragraph & putting it back on the shelf.
    It will pass (said in my best Yoda style, Jedi master voice) and all of a sudden you’ll be neglecting the kids in favour of a book you can’t put down 🙂

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  13. I’ve suffered from this affliction, as well. What works for me is what slightlyignorant wrote of, and what I call the “easy read”. This, for me, is usually a non-fiction adventure account; you don’t have to ponder characters, plot-lines, and nuances, things just happen. Right now, I’m finishing a mountain climbing run by first reading “No Way Down” and then “K2”. These after a stint with caving books, and to be followed by a re-read of “The Perfect Storm”, and then a planned re-introduction to fiction and thus character and plot contemplation with “The Cave.”

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