reader’s block

Yup, got that too. As with my previously documented ailments, blogger’s block and writer’s block, it’s not that I’m not reading at all. Ever since I was old enough to read by myself and started working my way through the entire Enid Blyton catalogue, I’ve always had a book on the go. But it feels like a long time since I haven’t been able to put a book down, or since I went to bed early because I couldn’t wait to get back to the world of the book I was reading. I’ve read some books this year that I know objectively to be good, like Anne Enright’s The Green Road and Lauren Goff’s The Fates and the Furies, and I did enjoy them but not in a wholehearted way, if that doesn’t sound too ridiculous. Perhaps my own struggle to get an agent and a book deal has made me self-conscious not just in my writing but in my reading: unable to take simple pleasure in someone else’s writing without that little nagging voice in my head telling me I’ll never be as good as them so why am I even bothering to write? Or perhaps it’s something else—I once read an interview with someone, someone famous I think but whose name I can’t recall, who said now that he is in his seventies he doesn’t bother listening to the news any more because he’s heard it all before. In other words, once you get to a certain age, there is nothing new in the world. Is it the same for reading? Have I reached the age where I am so jaded that there is nothing in a book that could excite or move or enthrall me again? That would be awful. So I am battling on.

At the moment I’m reading Independence Day by someone called Richard Ford, which I came across when browsing on Amazon. It’s oldish, written in the mid-nineties and set in 1988, and I guess I was hoping for one of those resurrected classics like Revolutionary Road or Stoner, but its miniaturist account of a few days in the life of a man in the throes of midlife crisis trying to repair his relationship with his teenage son hasn’t really resonated with me although the writing is nice. I have kept going though—for what seems like months—and today my Kindle tells me I have at last read 96% of it—hoorah! I’m looking forward to starting Curtis Sittenfeld’s Eligible next; a modern version of Pride and Prejudice apparently. This may not be the best choice to cure the reader’s block as I really don’t like Jane Austen, but I do like a bit of Curtis and I loved American Wife, so fingers crossed.

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