I am currently experiencing the affliction dreaded by bookworms everywhere: a slump.
I know I am not alone and many of us are finding that the current climate is negatively affecting our reading habits. My motivation to pick up any of the books I bought pre-lockdown has all but disappeared. I can’t concentrate from one book to the next and keep putting down books I was really excited about two months ago. But my desire to read is still strong so instead of feeling frustrated about, let’s face it, a very privileged problem, I have devised a cunning plan. Kind of. I’ve picked a stack of books, each very different from one and other, to get me through my slump. My theory is that by switching between these books I’ll have enough variety to keep me interested and engaged while eliminating the surplus of choice.
Cleopatra: A Life by Stacy Schiff
A little bit of non-fiction is always a good idea and who isn’t interested in learning more about notorious royals of old? Just me? Okay. Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer Stacy Schiff separates fact from fiction and finds the truth in the many myths and legend surrounding this infamous Queen of Egypt. I spent many a year dreaming of being an Egyptologist when I was younger so I am hoping this ignites a bit of that old passion.
The Crimson Campaign by Brian McClellan | Book 2, The Powder Mage Trilogy
For my fantasy fix, I’ve picked this beauty. I really enjoyed the first book, Promise of Blood, a couple of years ago but for some reason I never got round to picking up book two. Set in a world similar to our own but with living gods and sorcery, this is a flintlock & military story where magic and warfare are intricately linked. Less feudal and more industrial than my usual fare, but I remember the fascinating, complex characters and I’m looking forward to getting to know them again. Bonus: While this is book 2 out of 3, McClellan also has a sequel trilogy published so there’s plenty more to devour if I so wish.
Katherine of Aragon: The True Queen by Alison Weir | Book 1, Six Tudor Queens
As a history graduate it is no surprise that I love good historical fiction. While my tastes are continuously broadening in terms of time periods, the Tudors will always hold a special place in my heart. My dissertation focused on Anne Boleyn so I thought I’d go back a queen and follow all of Henry’s wives starting with Katherine. I’ve read and loved a lot of Alison Weir books, novels and history alike, so I know I am in safe hands. Bonus: As this is the first in a series I have a few more to get to if I fall head over heels.
The Other Bennet Sister by Janice Hadlow
And finally, a retelling of an old favourite. I have heard nothing but praise for Hadlow’s debut novel and after reading a sample of this chunky tome I decided I couldn’t wait until it’s paperback release to get my hands on it. I’ve not read Pride & Prejudice for many, many years and I am intrigued to see it play out from Mary’s perspective. Always described as the plain sister and sidelined in the original story, Hadlow has fleshed Mary’s character out and made her the focus. I think it goes further than the plot of Austen’s classic and I’m eager to see where she goes with it – I admit the main reason I haven’t picked this one up earlier is the size, which isn’t really a good enough excuse.
So there we have it. I am hoping that limiting my options and allowing a bit of variety will help me get back into my favourite hobby. I know that I am very fortunate to still be working full time (from home!) and I am extremely grateful that neither me nor any of my friends or family members are currently suffering from covid-19, but as reading is normally such a big part of my life it feels wrong to be out of sorts with it now.
What do you do if you fall into a reading slump? Any tips to share or things to avoid? Maybe you never have them at all – what’s your secret?! Let’s chat.