You’re looking at your bookshelves. There are a lot of books. But none that you really want to read. French philosophy that you thought might inspire you. Colombian poetry that you planned to dip in and out of. And trashy beach reads that just seem… a bit too trashy. It’s a feeling not dissimilar to gazing into your wardrobe and all of the lovely clothes you once loved, and realising you don’t want to wear any of them. Horrid.
Back to the books. You’ve got what we call Reader’s Block. There is a cure and a way out, we promise. You once loved reading, and you will again. It’s just a question to finding the way to hook you back into books.
Browse Some Books
Book shops have a special scent. And a unique ambiance. Look for a local independent or second-hand book shop, and just call in on your way back from yoga/brunch/the night before/shopping at the weekend. We need to support our local shops, and your neighbourhood book seller is bound to have lots of ideas of books that you might like – that’s their area of expertise after all.
Ask A Friend
We all have a voracious reader friend that devours four books a week. Perhaps they have a long commute. Maybe they’re just really really into reading. Explain your predicament to said friend. Tell them what kind of books you’d like to read – or mention the last three novels you actually enjoyed. They might see you as a bit of a charity case, but they will most certainly have suggestions of novels that will kick-start your reading and get you back on track.
Listen To Literature
Always got your iPod fired up with your favourite tunes? If the act of physically sitting down with a book bores you, and you feel you just haven’t got time, listening to books on the go is a genius solution. Amazon has a great selection of audiobooks, or you can easily download almost any book from iTunes.
Book blogs. A quick Google search throws up page upon page of blogs written by people who love books and want to share their passion. Try Love Reading for an incredibly comprehensive range of reviews, while For Books’ Sake is about books for and by women. We’d also recommend Ready Steady Blog (whic focuses on fiction, poetry, history and philosophy) and So Many Books is another dependable source of inspiration.
Love Your Library
There’s a place not too far from where you live where you can find thousands of books. For free. In our buy-everything-now society, sometimes it’s easy to forget that before the knock-down prices of Amazon existed, people used to borrow books. Think of libraries as offering a try-before-you-buy option, and take out a selection of five or six books that you feel drawn to. If you don’t like any of them, you haven’t lost anything, have you?
Peruse The Prizewinners
There are prizes for the best books. So they MUST be good! And there are lots of different prizes; in the UK alone, there’s the Man Booker, the Costa and the Women’s Prize for Fiction. Then there’s the Nobel Prize for Literature, and the notable Franz Kafka Prize too. Hundreds of books have been awarded prizes over the years, so have a look at the jury’s commentary, press reviews, and then make your choice.
Hilary Mantel has won the Man Booker prize twice…