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Old 12-05-2019, 02:08 PM   #1
pwalker8
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Reader's Block

There was an interesting essay in today's Tor newsletter called Reader's Block, i.e. what to do when you have lots to read, but don't find any of it particularly appealing. I have this problem from time to time, especially after reading a favored author or a new author that I really like. Trying to read a book that doesn't have the same level of delight seems like a chore.

The essayist's suggest trying new genres, new authors, etc. That's not really the direction that I tend to go. I will frequently go with an old favorite. That seems to break the mood for me and let me enjoy books that I was struggling with before.

What say you? Have you had the problem with Reader's Block? If so, how do you get past it?
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Old 12-05-2019, 02:25 PM   #2
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When I go through those periods, I also tend to pick up an old favorite. It usually happens to me when I'm scattered in my mind due to life being too busy or stressful.

Those are times I love to revisit old friends in books. Wang Lung, Macon Leary, Rochester, Francie, the Gilbreth's, or the much more simple characters in some of the lite Amish fiction I like. Sometimes the more stressful my life, the more "harmless" reading I need. Robert Benchley is great for this also, or James Lileks.
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Old 12-05-2019, 02:35 PM   #3
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What say you? Have you had the problem with Reader's Block? If so, how do you get past it?
Interestingly, I do exactly what you do. Give myself a kickstart with a favourite author and move on from there.
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Old 12-05-2019, 02:56 PM   #4
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I also like to pick a known author and book. I just did that last week. I read The Commodore by P. T. Deutermann.
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Old 12-05-2019, 03:17 PM   #5
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When I have finished binge reading an author and/or series, I'll sometimes pick a book in a genre I generally don't read (my wife loves making suggestions ) as an entremet.
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Old 12-05-2019, 03:21 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Deskisamess View Post
Those are times I love to revisit old friends in books. Wang Lung, Macon Leary, Rochester, Francie, the Gilbreth's, or the much more simple characters in some of the lite Amish fiction I like. Sometimes the more stressful my life, the more "harmless" reading I need. Robert Benchley is great for this also, or James Lileks.
I admit I'm stymied. The other old friends I get, but the only Rochester I can think of is the one in Jane Eyre, a wife abuser, would-be bigamist, philanderer, possible father of an illegitimate daughter and all-around nasty fellow. That Rochester? With friends like that....
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Old 12-05-2019, 03:25 PM   #7
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I admit I'm stymied. The other old friends I get, but the only Rochester I can think of is the one in Jane Eyre, a wife abuser, would-be bigamist, philanderer, possible father of an illegitimate daughter and all-around nasty fellow. That Rochester? With friends like that....
Now, now. Mr. Rochester's dastardly deeds pale in comparison to those of the modern man.
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Old 12-05-2019, 03:28 PM   #8
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I've experienced the reader's block pretty often and I too tend to reread a favorite book or series then. Or read more books in the series where I liked the first books. (With many mystery and thriller series running 20 and more books, I generally never read the whole of it all at once).
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Old 12-05-2019, 03:44 PM   #9
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I admit I'm stymied. The other old friends I get, but the only Rochester I can think of is the one in Jane Eyre, a wife abuser, would-be bigamist, philanderer, possible father of an illegitimate daughter and all-around nasty fellow. That Rochester? With friends like that....
Sure, Rochester is complicated. But I see him more as the injured party, made bitter by what his father heaped on him, out of pure greed.

By the 21st century mindset, he may qualify as an abuser, but not in the time period of the book. He keeps his insane wife safe and cared for, in a way that seems horrible by our standards. He cares enough about Bertha to try and save her in the fire, losing an eye and a hand in the process. He could just have easily left his wife in the care of whatever type of lunatic asylums they had at the time, and washed his hands of her.

I always thought the book made it clear he wasn't Adèle's father, but either way, he cared for the child, when she could have been left at an orphanage or sent away to school.

My take on him is that he tried to make himself appear to be more of a horrible person than he really is, or was. His redemption comes at a high price, a redemption he desires...judging by a conversation early in the book with Jane.
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Old 12-05-2019, 04:17 PM   #10
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Sure, Rochester is complicated. But I see him more as the injured party, made bitter by what his father heaped on him, out of pure greed.
He married Bertha out of lust and greed himself, but foisted the blame on his father and brother. He kept her a prisoner in the sole care of a drunken woman, and clearly that was not safe as it caused her eventual death. He was responsible for what happened, so I give him no moral props for trying to save her. But far worst of all, she wasn't nuts all the time; she had lucid intervals during which she had to endure her imprisonment and Grace. I always hoped that her attempts to set him on fire were during periods of sanity!

But leaving Bertha aside, which I can't, Rochester also would have been the ruination of Jane if his bigamy had been discovered after they married. He claimed he would have told her after a year; can we believe him? And if he had, what would Jane have done? What would her options have been? Suppose she was pregnant or a mother by that time? His maiming is meant to signify his redemption, but being redeemed doesn't mean he wasn't an evil and cruel person until then.

Anyway, that's my take on him!
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Old 12-05-2019, 04:26 PM   #11
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I think my opinion of him has mellowed over the years with multiple readings. My views of the characters when I was 30 differs from my view from 60.

The longer I live, the more I see the potential we all have for horrid behavior, and perhaps my willingness to "forgive" is because of how horrid I've been at times, and the people close to me who forgave me, and don't throw it up in my face at every opportunity.

I do love the complexity of characters like Rochester. One note characters may be easy to read, but don't leave anything behind to foster conversations.
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Old 12-05-2019, 04:46 PM   #12
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I like Sarah Rees Brennan's parody: Jane Eyre, Or: The Bride of Edward ‘Crazypants’ Rochester That parody also inspired me to reread the original, and, well, it's not completely fair, but it's not completely unfair either...
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Old 12-05-2019, 05:46 PM   #13
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I posted a link to this comic strip in the current book club discussion thread of The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Brontë, but it seems to fit here as well.
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Old 12-05-2019, 05:50 PM   #14
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I think my opinion of him has mellowed over the years with multiple readings. My views of the characters when I was 30 differs from my view from 60.
I've rediscovered the Victorian novelists in recent years and my appreciation of them is so much deeper and richer than it was decades ago.

Quote:
I do love the complexity of characters like Rochester. One note characters may be easy to read, but don't leave anything behind to foster conversations.
Absolutely! I know in the book club here, I don't necessarily have to love a book so long as the conversation is good. Frequently I'm made aware of nuances that escaped me, as well.
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Old 12-05-2019, 10:30 PM   #15
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There was an interesting essay in today's Tor newsletter called Reader's Block, i.e. what to do when you have lots to read, but don't find any of it particularly appealing. I have this problem from time to time, especially after reading a favored author or a new author that I really like. Trying to read a book that doesn't have the same level of delight seems like a chore.

The essayist's suggest trying new genres, new authors, etc. That's not really the direction that I tend to go. I will frequently go with an old favorite. That seems to break the mood for me and let me enjoy books that I was struggling with before.

What say you? Have you had the problem with Reader's Block? If so, how do you get past it?
I googled reading lists of my favorite authors and bought some of their recommendations. Glad I did for I am now enjoying books I would normally not think much of
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