A Bloody Book Funk Indeed…

Well that teaches me doesn’t it? Here comes Simon promising you that Savidge Reads will be all singing and all dancing again and then what happens… I promptly fall into an epic, seemingly never ending Book Funk. So severe in fact I haven’t picked up a book in just over two weeks which is really, really, really horrid and really, really, really unlike me. I have just felt a bit booked out, like the world was a never ending spiral of books I would never read, let alone write or talk about. Yes, THAT BAD! The sort of thing that is almost nightmare inducing.


The book wormhole of doom…

This is quite possibly all my fault, I may have taken on too much at once. I decided to take on the Not The Booker shortlist, which is a prize I really love and indeed loved being part of the judging panel a few years ago. This year though the entrants have just isolated me with the exception of Dan Micklethwaite’s The Less Than Perfect Legend of Donna Creosote and Tiffany McDaniel’s The Summer That Melted Everything (to be fair I haven’t tried the Deborah Andrews yet, I will ay some point) and also I have found it unusually snarky on the comments this year. It seems people are focused on what they don’t like about the books rather than what they do which loses its charm and appeal, so I have backed of a bit. I also agreed to do a buddy read of Christina Stead’s The Man Who Loved Children which the bloody lovely Adam of Memento Mori, but it is a beast and one with a very annoying and rambling main character who utterly pisses me off, so I had to have a break… after three chapters. I will continue again soon though because it is good and there is an absolute harridan in it who I love to hate, plus a promise to a fellow booktuber is like an oath. Ha. So I will pick that up soon. I also think work and moving and all that jazz has taken over. Sometimes, as weird and frankly disturbing as it sounds, maybe we just need a break from books now and then? Or have I just blasphemed?

 Yet a book has arrived that I really want to curl up with and read later this evening, which is something I have not felt the desire for in quite some time – in fact my bedside table is currently awash with half read or just started and abandoned books that I don’t seem to be getting anywhere with. Which is the book? Well it is Angel Catbird which is Margaret Atwood’s first foray into graphic novels and I think, with it’s mixture of superhero and Atwood, will be the perfect thing to get me back into the joy of words., so wish me luck.

Have any of you got any tips for how to deal with book funks? Or any ways to keep them at bay or spot the warning signs? All suggestions welcome. I decided just to sit it out until the right book came along, should I have just plundered on?


Filed under Book Thoughts, Random Savidgeness

35 responses to “A Bloody Book Funk Indeed…

  1. Honestly, whenever I am going through a dread book funk, I pick up something light and easy to read, like Agatha Christie or some current bestseller. Sometimes I am so horrified at the quality of the bestseller that it makes me very eager to pick up a hefty book that I have been putting off.

  2. Rudy, Beverly

    It’s okay to take a (short) break, especially after an intense read. My issues tend to be which of the 52 books on my TBR shelf (many of which are on the non-the Booker longlist) I should read next.

    My non-reading, non-working and non-cooking time principally involves on line Scrabble. In fact, I Scrabble and read whilst waiting for the next play.

    Or you could read something purely fun and a bit airplane reading-ish such as a Helen FitzGerald.

    I do have one book to add to your list—The Sellout by Paul Beatty—which is a scathing indictment of how white folks think they live in a “post-racial” America. I don’t highlight the text of my books, but if I did, there would have been at least one sentence highlighted on every page of this one. My husband was glad when I finished because I read so many passages aloud to him (how annoying). And I also recently read Shtum, which was a stunner emotionally.

    Next up for a two-week trip to Paris/London are Eileen and The Bloody Project, plus Jihadi, The Sympathizer and In Her Wake.

    Best of luck and cheers.

    Beverly J. Rudy | Partner | 202.383.0885

  3. Timothy Balding

    Yes, reading my novel will shake you out of your funk with a laugh. I wrote several weeks back asking for your postal address (since you say that it is your exclusive form of book receipt) so my publisher could send you a copy but you haven’t got round to replying. Could I enquire again? Thanks so much.


  4. Fortunately this hasn’t happened to me so i don’t have any pearls of wisdom other than the circle of fortune will turn again and you’ll be back where you were pre-funk

  5. I am so with you on Not the Booker – which I have read, all on the shortlist, and agree with you more than Sam and so many of the commentators. But, but, you have a Margaret Atwood graphic novel? Actually, I think I might hate you. (not really) ❤ ❤

  6. I sometimes reread a favourite childhood book to get be back reading. Also I read recently that David Nicholls found he was struggling to find time to read and was struggling to pick up a book so he sets his alarm 3o minutes early and uses this time to read for a solid 30 minutes. Maybe you could set yourself just 30 minutes a day reading to get you back into it. Hope you find your reading mojo again soon.

  7. sharkell

    I’m with Jessica – I usually pick up something light or quick – a YA or novella or genre fiction. It usually works.

  8. Ann

    Simon: Sounds like you are just overwhelmed & everybody gets like that at different times of their life. Just take a breather and it will work itself out.

  9. stuart sheach

    Go for the scurrilous every time. Irvine Welsh does it for me. try ‘Filth’ but re read any authors who break all the rules and above all make you laugh as you say inwardly..’you can’t say that’!

  10. orqwith

    Poetry, Simon. I would recommend Jo Bell.

  11. Karen B

    I think you just bit off more than you can chew and have exhausted yourself. You have so much going on in your life and it’s not a big surprise that you’ve crashed and burned. Don’t stress over taking a little break. You’re entitled! Do other things that you enjoy. You’ll get past it.

    I agree with what others have suggested. Try to pick up something light. Maybe reread something you love. NOT something heavy like A Little Life! The graphic novel might help, but don’t worry if it doesn’t fix it. Before long, you’ll be reading up a storm! 🙂

  12. I just tweeted about my book funk last night and my coworker’s advice to me: “It’s okay to take a break from reading once in while”. Sometimes our brains just want a respite but I always know I’ll return to reading soon. I say don’t force yourself to read if you don’t want to – just let it ride and it will take care of itself.

  13. Gina

    You have so much going on right now, no wonder you’re feeling stressed! As far as your book funk goes, I think you’ve over extended yourself in the bookish community and its sucking the joy out of reading for you. Just do the parts you really really really love, Simon. If that means not doing as much public bookish stuff and focusing on your personal reading life then so be it. Take good care of yourself and let that be priority #1 (Now you know why I call myself Mama Gina on Litsy🤓)

  14. This seems to happen to me regularly, usually because my brain is overworked with loads of other things (work, extra freelance projects, etc). It’s just the brain’s way of saying STOP, I need a rest! To get back into swing of reading, I usually go for something fast-paced and not terribly literary, so usually that means a psychological thriller. Or I read a favourite author.

  15. Start with a movie – pedro Almodovar, anything with Tilda Swinton… Or visit an art exhibition (but always the danger of the bookshop at the end). Take a magazine to bed – lots of pictures, not too wordy. Wake up refreshed, time for a podcast – you may enjoy Richard Fidler ‘Conversations’ with Hannah Kent on fairy tales http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/conversations/hannah-kent/4696886 … Test the waters with a short story collection like Teffi or a stefan Zweig novella. Make some chocolate brownies… Hopefully a great book will be the turning point!

  16. That picture is truly terrifying!

    You’ve moved house! That’s enormously draining and tiring, no wonder you’re in a book funk. You’ve also got a lot on your plate. And books you don’t really want to read are no way out of it, nor is putting pressure on yourself to post here.

    It sounds to me as if you’ve already solved the problem with the Margaret Atwood and things are already looking up. And I would say, stop giving yourself a hard time over this, do something else entirely if you’re still not feeling book love – rent some films, do some gardening or look at pictures or listen to music or anything else that gives you joy, and just wait until the mood comes back.

    And as others have suggested, when you are ready to read just go with your mood. The book funk will end, eventually. I get them regularly, especially at this time of year which is very busy and involves a lot of things I particularly hate (admin!). Then they go away again.

    Good luck, and I hope you feel better soon.

  17. Donna

    Hi Simon,
    First of all – let me just say I love your YouTube channel and I regularly check for new videos from you. I also love your blog and I’m sure you have many great things planned for the blog which I look forward to seeing.
    I too am going through a book funk at the moment. I think my issue is that I get reading a book and then I see so many other books that I want to read and then I get frustrated that I can’t get through them all quick enough. I have one book that I’m trying to get finished and it’s just at a bit of a standstill. I hate not finishing books as it annoys me so I try to persevere unless the book is really crap! Lol My advice is to take a bit of time off from reading and then if there are books you’re really not enjoying – just leave them (unless you feel really determined to finish them lol). Then go to your local bookshop and have a look around and see what catches your eye and start from there. I too recommend something light hearted and not too big to get you back into it. I think we all get a bit over ambitious with our TBR lists! 🙂

  18. I remember doing The Artist’s Way with a friend a long time ago. I remember doing a reading deprivation week as part of that. You weren’t supposed to read at all. It made me completely hysterical. It became a pleasure to read adverts in the tube! My only advice is It’ll pass.

  19. Samuel

    Book funks are actually good for you. Book funks are a signal to your brain that it does not want you to sit around all day reading. It is a signal that your body is lacking exercise. When I get into a book funk mood, I will go for a 30 minute walk in the mornings or in the evenings after work. After two or three days, your brain will start craving your favorite activity again – curling up on the couch with a cup of tea, a throw blanket, and a good book.

  20. After I completed my English degree (many years ago now!) I could not read anything literary for a very long time. I indulged in a bit of junk reading and watched lots of movies and it passed. I would suggest going completely outside your usual reading habits. Some children’s literature maybe? Or re-read some favourites?

  21. I quite regularly have “book funks” and I find the best way to get out of them is not to try! I just re-read Harry Potter or something else that’s not going to require too much concentration. Plus, I’ve realised that when I am in a book funk, I am probably still reading – whether that’s a newspaper or a magazine etc.

  22. Reading is supposed to be fun but I’ve lost my appetite for it quite a few times before after reading too many dark/difficult/ just plain bad books. It just takes one good book to pull you out and if anyone can do it then Margaret Atwood should be able to!

  23. Stephanie Müller

    Sometimes we all need a little break. Don’t worry it will end sometime.

  24. Jae

    I think we’ve all been there and like anything in life things ebb and flow. In August I read one book, ONE! I wasn’t exactly in a funk, I just didn’t feel like reading much of anything. So I didn’t. I think that’s the best way to make it pass is to not feel bad about it or feel guilty about not reading, that just prolongs the book funk. If you just say you’re not in the mood to read and go do something else enjoyable or let yourself have that time off, guilt-free, then soon you’ll have the desire back.

    I can’t wait to get my hands on the Atwood graphic novel either so I hope you enjoy it! 🙂

  25. the best remedy – hours and hours of booktube videos and other bloggers’ blog posts (:

  26. fifojohnson

    I too can fall victim to a book funk slump. I just dip in and out of short stories, read a magazine until I feel I am ready again. Always happens when I have a lot on and the book I’m reading just isn’t doing it for me. I also now happily give up on books I’m not enjoying – my theory is if it hasn’t got me by a third of the way in then it’s on to the next one. Like someone else said reading is meant to be fun and total escapism – so don’t feel any guilt!

  27. Tina

    Just find short stories or re read an old favourite.

  28. The sadness of book funks is immeasurable. An avid reader, I have been trapped in The What To Read Next Book Funk for four months. I spend more time reading reviews, kindle samples, Trump’s latest gaffe, Nate Silver’s predictions and the latest mass shooting here in the states, the unmitigated horror of Aleppo, ISIS, Zika, and the desperate days of Hillary Clinton. I guess you could say I am distracted on so man fronts. Reading — my trustworthy escape from everything — is overstimulated as hell. I keep thinking I might read A Litte Life again or The Heart is a Muscle the Size of a Fist or even a post Apocalypse novel which will plunk me down in a fictional end of the world rather than the one looming over this poor old planet. And then, the sheer ridiculous and painful suffering of being unable to embed myself in a novel pulls me further down into self criticizing and the hairy scary hell of what I can do about it. I feel your pain, and I live on with the hope you are going to post a review of a book I can descend into. But beware, not funny novels, not romantic or spy novels, not redemption novels or memoirs about living in other countrys where characters discover their true self, and please god in haven — the Coming Of Age fiction. Meanwhile, I think you are the best reviewer — far bettr than most NYT or Oprah or even the London Review. You are a person to mean, and guess what, I am old enough to be your gram, and I share her love for the books and authors she introduced to you. Eileen

  29. andrew cole

    Personally I usually then revert to a crime novel as an easy page turner, either something Scandi or some tartan noir. Alternatively just watch some TV or go to the cinema- I saw The girl with all the gifts last night and it was good if you like zombies .
    Alternatively you could try some of the booker shortlist, I am two in and whilst the Madeleine Thien is big it is astonishing and worth the effort, however never having read Deborah Levy I was really pleasantly surprised by Hot Milk which at just over 200 pages is intriguing and very readable.
    Finally I’ve booked a ticket to see Louise Doughty discuss Graham Greene at the Manchester festival so plan to read Brighton rock next week- maybe you should read an old favourite such as graham or Agatha Raisin.
    Good luck as it’s easy to get overwhelmed but reading is a joy that should allow you to escape- perhaps get the pleasure back rather than reading becoming something you have to do- also your podcasts and musings ultimately give readers a lot of pleasure so it would be a shame if that was lost.

  30. pattirob

    Do anything but read. Watch a movie, listen to music, walk. And don’t feel you have to read. After a couple weeks or so you will be back.

  31. I pick up short light novels, graphic novels, comics, magazines and newspapers. You could also listen to some audiobooks. I also try not to look at what other people are reading. If that doesn’t work I try to do some painting or drawing to do something different. Finally just not reading at all for a while will bring the desire back if all else fails.

  32. Andrew_MC

    The best advice I can give is to not worry about it, two weeks may seem “horrid” but you were overdue for a break. Relax, and don’t put pressure on yourself. Go for the equivalent of comfort food — an easy read by a favourite author — and don’t be bothered about whether you read two pages or 200. Before you know it your appetite for reading will come back with a vengeance.

    • I go into a book funk every time a well meaning friend gives me (what is for me) the horror of a Margaret Atwood.

      I treat it like the flu. Re-read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Or Anne of Green Gables – now *there’s* Canadian literature that I love! Tartan noir works too, mind.

  33. I had a book funk after Sarah Perry’s “The Essex Serpent” – How could anyone ever top that?!?!?!? So far, no one has but what I’ve been reading has pulled me through. Good luck finding your next “it” read.

  34. Hi Simon – I agree with Ann above who says: “Sounds like you are just overwhelmed & everybody gets like that at different times of their life. Just take a breather and it will work itself out.”
    I’m currently reading Weekend by Jane Eaton Hamilton which is a “queer crip reimagining of ‘What We Talk About When We Talk About Love’ ” and is BLOWING MY MIND. And I don’t use capitals lightly.

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