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Kathleen Nance | My Reading Drought and What I'm Doing About It

A reading drought? Guilty!

I never thought I would say that. I’ve been an avid reader all my life. On vacation, my suitcase hit the maximum weight limit due to the layer of books in the bottom. If I walk out the door, I have a book in my bag. Just in case, that line in the grocery is really long, or the dentist can’t see me quite yet, or . . . I haunt bookstores. Even when I was busy raising a family, I read, not only for myself but I read to my children, instilling a similar love in them. I started reading Golden books, Nancy Drew, children’s classics (I always wanted to go live with grandfather in the Alps, like Heidi, even though my lovely grandparents were firmly planted in Indiana and New York) and continued on into adulthood, with more grown up fare.

Until recently. Oh, I still love reading good stories; I’m just not doing it much. I still love books, but I find it harder to get lost within their pages. For a proud bookaholic, that’s an embarrassing admission.

I’ve been trying to figure out why the change, and what to do about it. Because I miss that piece of my life.

Perhaps it’s an inevitable side effect of being a writer, oxymoronic as that may sound. But, if I have a block of time, I spend it writing. Or reading for research instead of enjoyment. (Like that stack of articles about Icelandic volcanoes I read while I was researching Gryphon Unleashed.) Beyond the time factor, there’s also the potential of subconsciously picking up something that would slant my story and voice or getting too distracted by technique.

Bu t, my drought isn’t all writer-induced. The best pleasure reading, for me, is immersive. I am there, with those characters, experiencing their fear and passion. (My family figured they could light firecrackers beside me and I’d pay no attention if I was reading) But, in addition to writing, I also work a 40+ full time job. I do have to be alert and focused when I’m counseling patients and dispensing medicine. I can’t stay up to 3 am reading and still function the next day the way I need to. And when I come home, my mind wants to shut off and chill.

Top Chef instead of the top of the to-be-read pile.

I’m working my way back from my book exile. I try to go to bed a half an hour earlier, so I can read and still turn off the light on time. With nicer weather, I go outside on my lunch hour and read, instead of getting distracted by conversion and interrupted by phone calls. I pick comfort reads or something very different to engage my mind or shorter books or something with a fascinating blurb. The pleasure is still there, being gradually rediscovered and savored.

So, I’ll ask you, other readers. Have you had times in your life where your love of reading got shunted aside? What caused it? How did you manage to keep, or regain, that sparkle?

Leave a comment for a chance to receive your choice of an autographed copy of Phoenix Unrisen or a sneak peak at the first four chapters of Gryphon Unleashed, coming out in December.




50 comments posted.

Re: Kathleen Nance | My Reading Drought and What I'm Doing About It

I can completely relate. I, like you, get completely lost in a good book. I'll be up reading only to look at the time and realise that it is 5 in the morning and I need to get up for work in 2 hours time. But with the stress of new roles at work and researching courses etc reading time has been shunted and turned to zone out, couch potato time. I think the secret is to find a really amazing book and try to savour it (which is easier said then done)
(Sarah Dewbery 6:55pm June 15, 2010)

I just need a good mystery
(Catherine Myers 12:03pm June 16, 2010)

where when i have my granchild, she is 5 and just wants ALL my attn, pickingup a book, cause severe headache for me, lol though, im a addcit, so i sneek reads, while in bathroom, or when she goes to sleep , or if she is in other room , LOL see im a addict not just a reader, i CRAVE books, honestly

and your book looks amazing . i would love to read ( lol my granchild is at her parents in bible school , i sit up all night last night and read 2 books since i finally got her to go home for a week .. my 2nd granchild was borned last week, and my 17yro daughter laughed when we got there, about the fact, i had grabbed a book while throwing on clothes in the middle of the night, when my other daughter water broke
(Tami Bates 1:11am June 16, 2010)

(Tami Bates 1:14am June 16, 2010)

I have had to put aside reading when my family demands took my spare time...so busy doing my grade 6, 8 & 10 homework that I don't have me time ;). I'm happy to say now that summer is coming my children will have a break and I will have downtime to enjoy more than a few good reads :)
(Darci Paice 1:55am June 16, 2010)

I went through a reading drought about 12 years ago. Just was so busy with children and jobs that I really couldn't find the commitment time to engage in the immersion of a good novel.
(Joanne Reynolds 6:56am June 16, 2010)

Same goes for me as for Joanne Reynolds. My family put a stop to reading books for me as I found myself looking after them and reading to them. They all love books too now and as young adults have different likes regarding books. My job is in school teaching young children to read and trying to get them addicted to reading too. Now I have time to read what I like but still have to stop and listen when my youngest (17 years) daughter wants to tell me what is happening in her book - she revises for exams like that too!
(Barbara Hanson 8:56am June 16, 2010)

i don't think i've ever stopped reading! i
always have book in hand, in my purse,
by my night table, in the washroom, they
are everywhere and i'm always reading.
(Tina Werner 9:47am June 16, 2010)

I switched to audiobooks for awhile (I drive a lot of Mom-taxi) and that got me back into story. Sometimes it's nice to be read to . . . Simon Prebble's voice sucks me in to any romance.
(Keri Stevens 10:27am June 16, 2010)

After a 12 year hiatus of reading (only Harry Potter during that time), i started reading May of last year. i have read about 450 book since then. i love to read but life just gets in the way. always busy with kids and family..i wish i had about antoher 4 hours of each day i could dedicate to reading..oh what a life that would be!
(Christy Mitchiner 10:27am June 16, 2010)

Well for me (and it has happened a few times), I always re-read my favorite two books of all time that never fail to remind me why I fell in love books. Wishes by Jude Deveraux and Forever and the Night by Linda Leal Miller. There is something comforting about them and they always help reinvigorate my reading :)
(Felicia Sparks 10:39am June 16, 2010)

Work and going to appointments cut down on my reading in a big way. I don't watch much television so that is starting to make up for some of the lost reading.
(Leni Kaye 2:09pm June 16, 2010)

I have had this happen to me last year, I really couldn't pin point what caused it. I just couldn't pick up a book. Happily it just went away one day. My husband alway's gave me a hard time as I wouldn't pay attention to him when I read, but that never really stopped me.
(Vikki Parman 2:10pm June 16, 2010)

I had a reading drought about two years ago that really had me in despair. Necessary change for the family was what triggered it and the stress of making that change meant that I really wanted passive entertainment. Where I would usually have picked up a book to sweep me away, I found that I was too physically and emotionally tired to do so. That particular drought was not helped by my inability to choose books that could keep my attention in all of the chaos. I had to go back to the occasional comfort read and slowly work my way back to normal from there.
(G. Bisbjerg 2:15pm June 16, 2010)

It takes something really bad to not be able to read. When my husband died I couldn't focus enough to read for a couple of months. But on the other hand books helped me through some really bad moments after my husband died also. I've always been a reader and I foresee myself as always reading. Love my books.
(Jill Merriott 2:49pm June 16, 2010)

Yes I have had a few times where I did not pick up a book... recently at the beginning of the year, I could not shake this nasty cold for a month... was not feeling well enough to read and enjoy my books... but once I was well... I jumped right back in!
(Colleen Conklin 3:15pm June 16, 2010)

I had a reading drought. I was so busy at work and always come home mentally tired. I was also dealing with my Mom (she's a Debbie Downer) and my brother. I was mentally gone. I was so tired I couldn't stay up and watch TV.

My life was going downhill fast and then I remember the joy reading as a form of escape. I made myself to commit to reading five pages a day. I knew it was slow going in finishing the book. I started to read again for the enjoyment.
(Kai Wong 3:24pm June 16, 2010)

I can so relate to this article! I love
to read, but life prevents me from
doing it as much as I like. Like you, I
work a full time job, which usually
ends up being 50+ hours a week
(plus 2 teenagers). I almost always
have a book with me at lunch,
where I read "brain candy" type of
books - light hearted historical
romances usually. I save the meater
books for my commute, when I
listen to books on CD. Audio books
are my saving grace, because I can
listen to them while waiting to pick
up my kids, or during walks in
evening, or working in the yard.
(MaryAnne Banks 3:38pm June 16, 2010)

After the sudden death of my mother, I went for four months where I couldn't read. I wanted to badly. I too, like getting lost in the pages of a good book. Every time I tried to read the words got fuzzy and I couldnt find the pleasure in it. My way back was to write. The voices of my characters urged me to put words to paper. This in turn brought back my reading.
(Maude Allen 3:51pm June 16, 2010)

I am in a bit of a reading slump myself and I am not sure what I want to read! I read Kaki Warner's book Open Country a couple of weeks ago and it was awesome but I have not found anything since to keep me into the book. I think i was spoiled by that one book.
(Gail Hurt 3:53pm June 16, 2010)

I do understand. My problem is that there are times I don't know what I want to read. I have piles and piles of books, but when that feeling hits I struggle to find one that keeps my attention. Thank goodness it always passes.
(Rosemary Krejsa 3:56pm June 16, 2010)

I am usually reading all the time but shorter stories to fit in the breaks in my day. Stopped reading much of anything about 6 or 7 years ago and I think it was just too much time watching tv. Now the tv rarely comes on.
(Lindsey Ekland 4:11pm June 16, 2010)

There was a time as a farm wife that there was absolutely no time for reading. Thank goodness all of that work paid off, and now I can read, read, read!
(Marjorie Carmony 4:27pm June 16, 2010)

thank you for the cahnce to win and wish you the best for the books
(Desiree Reilly 4:37pm June 16, 2010)

I did go through a time where all I would read were magazines. I've been reading since I was 3, so I knew something must be wrong. I was ill at the time and didn't realize that I didn't have the attention span to read a whole book. I ended up in the hospital and as I started getting better, I started wanting a book again. One of my favorite authors released a book while I was in the hospital and my mom picked it up for me and I've been reading ever since!!
(Kelli Jo Calvert 4:51pm June 16, 2010)

Work gets in the way of my reading, especially when I take it home. The withdrawal symptoms are painful.
(Mary Preston 4:56pm June 16, 2010)

There have been times when I haven't
had the energy or desire to pick up a
new book, but I've always kept reading
by picking up books I've read
previously and re-reading passages
that give me comfort.
(Sue Ahn 5:02pm June 16, 2010)

I've had times when I slowed down in my reading just because I was so busy I didn't have time. But I still always had a book sitting there if I could catch a moment, it just took me longer to finish. I've loved to read since I learned how, and I'll never stop.
(Barbara Elness 5:31pm June 16, 2010)

There was that time when I was sucked into watching a lot of anime instead of reading...
However there are times when I'd look around me, at all the books I do have (and all the ebooks on my computer) and I still feel like there's nothing I really want to read. I don't know what to do about that either except just pick up a book (hopefully a thin one just in case I don't have much time) and open it up.
(S Tieh 5:31pm June 16, 2010)

I too have been distracted from reading at times, mostly due to my numerous hobbies. I try to set aside an hour each day to get a little reading done. Thanks for the giveaway!
(Lisa Garrett 5:41pm June 16, 2010)

yes when i've been too busy working.
(Sagrario Vigil 6:07pm June 16, 2010)

I am suffering a reading drought right
now. I was reading about 3 books a
week when I was working. I lost my
job in February and ended up
spending more time on the computer.
The author and book blogs I visited for
my job were mine to explore as long
as I wanted. I discovered more sites
and spent more time on the computer.
Now I have little time left for reading.
We just went on vacation for two
weeks and I brought a bag of books as
usual plus books on CD. I read only a
few pages and listened to most of the
book. I also bought books (100 of
them, I counted today). You can take
the librarian out of the library, but you
can't take the library out of the
librarian, or her house. I'm trying to
set more time aside for reading. I
enjoy it so much. I read just about
everything and enjoy most of it.
(Patricia Barraclough 8:31pm June 16, 2010)

My reading drops off only when there's too many other things to do. I carry a book around with me just about everywhere.
(Alyson Widen 8:48pm June 16, 2010)

In the winter months when you feel tired by 7pm with the darkness descending, I lose the will to read as much as in the summer months where I sit outside with a cup of tea and a good book in the shade for a few hours after the evening meal.
(Diane Sadler 8:58pm June 16, 2010)

I have 7 year old twins and let me tell you...handful. I always like to read at night after they go to bed, but latelty they come in and interrupt me and my reading. It's not questions, but just plain screwing around. It takes me a while, but the books finally get picked back up in the morning.
(Jason Fiske 9:01pm June 16, 2010)

I remember going through a short dry spell right after my second child was born. I was so excited that I just could not concentrate. Once she started sleeping longer and I was getting a little more sleep I could concentrate better and return to the joy of reading.
(Cherie Japp 9:21pm June 16, 2010)

I was ill, I've had 7 surgery's in 8 years and meningitis. Too much medication means no reading. I always have loved it so as soon as I was able to put two words together I was reading again. It took a while to work up to entire books in a day again though.
(Brenda Rupp 10:09pm June 16, 2010)

It was hard when I was pregnant and my girls were little and I just made myself make time for it and just have never stopped!!!
(Brandy Blake 10:31pm June 16, 2010)

If you're really, really sick that can completely ruin reading for a bit.
(Cathie Veres 10:32pm June 16, 2010)

I love to read and lose time quickly. The story captures you and just sweeps you away. My eyes have been not so good for reading and I so missed it, it was like a piece of me was gone. I got meds and new glasses and I am back to what I love, reading.
Love the cover of Dragon Unmasked!
Thank you for sharing with us all here and best wishes.
(Chris Jones 3:08am June 17, 2010)

The only time my reading got shunted aside it was for monetary reasons. I became a single mom on welfare at 19. That money didn't even let me buy the necessary stuff without help from my mom, books were an impossible dream. Mom took pity on me and gave me some of her older Harlequin and Silhouette books after my second pregnancy at 24. The used book store became my best friend in those days. When I could finally start buying new books in places like Waldenbooks again, I fell in love with paranormal romace since it combined my early love of sci-fi/fantasy with my newer addiction to the HEA of romance.
Now if I get tired of one genre/sub-genre or reading, I can switch to something else entirely to give myself a break.
(Carol Cobun 6:20am June 17, 2010)

Reading gets left behind when I am trying to finish that last project and keep my life moving forward. But a good book with an interesting story line drags me back into reading at least 30 minutes a day.
(Roseann Moss 10:59am June 17, 2010)

work gets in the way of my reading bit reading gets in the way of my sleep!
(Debbi Shaw 12:05pm June 17, 2010)

I have two favs when it comes to romance first is paranormal and then historical
I have been lucky and have been able to read all I wanted from the time I fell in love with reading at the age od 17 and I read Clan of the cave bear and I have been a reader all this time.
(Vickie Hightower 12:27pm June 17, 2010)

I have been in a drought as well. Sometimes I just can't decide on a genre and what I have on isn't always what I want to read. I hate when I can't get into a book though...reading is my "ME" time!
(Sharla Long 5:29pm June 17, 2010)

I am having a drought also. I wonder why so many are. I check out books from the library and return them, unread. I just can't get interested in any thing. Maybe I should try a differnt genre. I just don't know.
(Tonya Atchley 6:00pm June 17, 2010)

I'm actually reading more than I have for quite a time, though I always have a book handy even in the droughts--just in case.
(Sigrun Schulz 6:01pm June 17, 2010)

I can totally relate. I used to read a lot, novels or fanfiction, anything, but when I started to seriously write (fanfiction) the lure of fanfic kind of dwindled. I don't know what brought this on, but perhaps it's because I started to get eye problems and couldn't read on the screen for long stretches... Or perhaps I just didn't want to write the same things as everyone else... No idea!
(Alexina Paiement 10:17pm June 17, 2010)

Currently I am in the middle of knitting a baby shower gift, along with some other commitments, which has taken up quite a bit of my time. When my fingers begin to cramp, that's the time for me to put the needles down, and pick up my book to read until the pain subsides. Otherwise, I'd never get any reading done!!
(Peggy Roberson 7:03am June 18, 2010)

I'm having similar issues right now. Seems like I'm stock piling books, both in print and e-books. I begin to read and then leave them unfinished.
I think it might be a greed issue *smiles*.

I have reading projects all over the place: YA, Romance, Mystery, non-fiction, etc.
(Brandi Evans 1:56pm June 19, 2010)

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