Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Breaking Out of the Reading Slump

When I first started this blog I posted once a week, and then slowly, I got posting every other day. I found other blogs to hop over to, hosted giveaways and started receiving Advanced Review Copies. Blogging became part of my routine, and reading truly felt like breathing.

"What are you reading?" you could ask me, at any point of the day and during any season of the year. I would have one or two titles at the tip of my tongue. Book boyfriends, quirky protagonists and the fictional plot twists were as much a part of my day as what I was learning at my internship or texts from the guy I was crushing on. As Rainbow Rowell phrased it in Fangirl: "reality was something happening in my [her] peripheral vision."

The Slump

Then, one day. I got busy with my master's thesis and GRE preparation. I was pouring over journals and the books on my to-read list remained on my to-read list. I went to a book fair, and bought more than I needed. The books piled on top of each other, but I never read them. Much depended on my final project grade, and giving myself fully to that experience.

I took a year off after my master's. I bought more books:  horror, romance, non-fiction, and literary fiction.They sat pretty in my bookshelf, as I worked two part-time jobs. I crossed paths with people who were anything but cardboard cut-outs. As I navigated through real-life plot twists, I started several books. Sometimes, I'd take them with me to places, but I'd lose my bookmark or forget the crux of the plot.

Then Harry Potter and the Cursed Child came out, and I was hooked for a couple of hours. It was a rush of nostalgia and adrenaline, even if it was not perfect. I appreciated the fresh perspective Albus gave us of the Slytherin dungeons, and was finally convinced by the rationale for love over power.

I joined grad school for the second time, this time in California. Choosing five of my favorite books of all time to take with me to a whole other continent drove me crazy. My five most treasured paperbacks sat tall in my new university apartment. My first semester was a blur, with zero non-academic books read by the end of it.

The Slow Burn

In November, I subscribed to the Book of the Month club. I started reading The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon. It had everything I appreciated about a young adult book: well fleshed-out characters, layers, the pulse of a busy city and the intricacies of the universe. I took the book with me everywhere: to train stations, to my study table, to coffee shops and even to Universal Studios, Hollywood. But I did not make it past two pages at a time - as urgent phone calls, fast-diminishing lines to rollercoasters, deadlines and the lurch of a new life often caused me to snap it back shut.

The few pages I read though, it integrated with my day. When I drank too much coffee, the protagonist Natasha felt vivider in my head. When Natasha argued for science, I thought about it while reading about the subjectivity of many objective research methods.

Breaking Out of the Slump

Then, last night, I burned through the last forty pages. It all came together and floored me the way a good book hadn't in a long time. I let it seep into my heart, rooting for people and places and contexts outside of me in a way that always cleansed my soul. Reality was back in my peripheral vision, my hypersensitivity to it and anxiety about it fading into the background.

I felt closure when I hit the end. It was similar to the satisfaction I felt when I got a good grade, the elevation I felt when I saw something selflessly adorable or the peak I got to when I focused. Only this was something I had always had, until somehow, one day I didn't anymore.

It felt like coming home.

7 comments:

  1. Wow! It has been a long time. So happy to catch up with you and hear all that you have been doing. I hope you are loving California and enjoying grad school. I think we all go through the slumps. I have struggled so much with reading and blogging over the last few months since I lost my mom last summer. I have found myself branching out and reading new genres and trying new things. I hope you get back in your groove soon. Hugs!

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    1. Thanks Heidi! I am so sorry to hear about your mom. It's great that you're branching out and trying new things - looking forward to reading/ hearing about all of it :) I am definitely looking forward to getting back in my groove soon :D

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  2. Beautiful post - and it's nice to see a post from you again. I'm glad you found a book that made reading feel like home again. That's beautiful. I'm glad that real life is treating you well and you're having great book-worthy experiences!

    -Lauren

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    2. Hi Lauren! Thank you so much for stopping by. I'm glad I finally found that book too, and hope I get posting more. Real life is pesky but great too I guess haha.

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  3. Hey Pooja, it definitely has been a while, I hope grad school is going okay? I know what you mean, I was in a YA slump for the longest time and sometimes I do still find it difficult to go back to reading YA books, as Adult and NA are the only books that seem to keep me entertained. But I hope that passion I had for them returns soon! :)

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    1. Hi Jasprit! Yes, I feel like I still like YA but not every YA book? More litfic that just happens to have young adults seems to resonate well with me these days. I get my genre preferences are just diversifying a bit :)

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HI. Thanks for reading! Feel free to comment. :)