Lynn and Cindy: We’ve commented throughout the year about issues with reading focus and our struggles to read at our usual pace. It was heartening recently to learn that not only are we not alone in our issues but there is a name for the problem! Apparently it is called languishing! It is characterized by the inability to focus and a lack of motivation. For us one of the major symptoms has been our inability to focus on reading. For reviewers that is a major challenge! But some books grab us from the first sentence and keep us turning the pages. What books make that happen? Is it the style, the genre, the setting? Curious minds want to know! Here are some books that have been our antidotes to the dreaded languishing:
Lynn: For me the key to happily reading a book to its finish this year has been re-reading! Maybe it is the reassurance of knowing ahead that I was deeply smitten by the style, the flow, and the outcome. Starting an old favorite again is like sliding into a warm bubble bath. My brain goes, “Ahhhhh,” and I find myself turning the pages and smiling. Re-reading has allowed me to then eagerly pick up some new books that I can read with pleasure. Adult mystery series have been a prime remedy but so have re-reads of youth series.
I have happily worked my way through a great swathe of books by Diana Wynne Jones. I will always and forever love Sophie and Howl. I recently finished The House of Many Ways and I could have stayed in that world forever—even with the that purple lubbock in the garden. I am also reading my way through Terry Pratchett’s enchanting books about Tiffany Aching who has the Nac Mac Feegles and Granny Weatherwax providing backup—with the occasional use of a little sheep liniment. I have I Shall Wear Midnight queued up and ready.
The re-reading recess somehow helps me to welcome and mentally walk into the excellent new books that have come my way this year. How about you? Are you languishing? What books would you prescribe?
Cindy: Last June, I retired during the pandemic from almost four decades of children’s public and middle school librarianship reading very little besides youth literature, with the exception of the occasional John Grisham audio book, or other rare foray into adult books. It wasn’t quite that one-sided, but it definitely felt like it. When I no longer had to read to booktalk and do readers’ advisory with my students, I felt like a free woman. I started reading more adult books, nonfiction, birding guides, and taking lots of long hikes to look for birds. My stacks of youth books no longer felt so imperative and my reading of them has definitely been languishing in the past year. My solution is to sometimes tackle my stack of unread picture books, sure to bring a smile or laugh (depending on the title), and the satisfaction of having finished a book quickly. I also am spurred on by favorite authors, more confident that I will be happy to keep reading. We recently posted about David Levithan’s The Mysterious Disappearance of Aiden S. (as told to his brother), and we have an upcoming post for Gary D. Schmidt’s recent novel, Just Like That. I’m currently reading Jasmine Warga’s The Shape of Thunder, but I also have Nature’s Best Hope: A New Approach to Conservation That Starts in Your Yard by Douglas W. Tallamy going as well.
For me, diversity is going to be the key going forward. A well-balanced reading meal. But, we warned you recently that bird migration season is upon us and I saw a rare Cerulean Warbler, a lifer for me, this week, so I will be on the trails many hours this month and my car audio book has been replaced by bird song apps. What is pulling you away from reading? Or are you hunkered down with your books in survival mode? Let us know your tips for overcoming languishing.