Wednesday, February 24, 2016


I don't know what to attribute it to, but my depression seems to have lifted.  It has something to do with fiction reading, but I am never quite sure how this works. I do know that when I am not in the middle of a novel, life is dark, and I am dissatisfied and full of self-loathing. Yet, when the darkness descends, I cannot find a book I want to read. I plod through several first chapters and nothing catches. Like Sendak's Pierre, I don't care.

I have a friend who understands my thing about books and my sometimes inability to read even though reading is one of my life's greatest pleasures.  When I saw her at Christmas she gave me Elena Ferrante's Neapolitan Novels, knowing that I was deep into not being able to read. Despite the fact that everyone - even people I know and generally agree with - loves these books, I had no interest. I knew it would be pointless to even try.

But six weeks later, on a three-hour flight home from Florida, I managed to distract myself with an Elizabeth Bowen novel that I grabbed from my mother's library on the way out the door. Though I finished it at home, I remained in thrall to the darkness. Something must have been shifting though. A few days later I began Ferrante's My Brilliant Friend, which I am still enjoying, and today I noticed that I am back to my normal.

This is what happens. I have to trick myself into reading in order to find my way back.


  1. I thoroughly enjoyed Sinclair Lewis's Elmer Gantry and I was sorry to finish it. It is difficult to know where to go next. I start a few but generally discard after 30 or 40 pages. But I know another good book will come along sooner or later. Maybe it has in the form of Frederic Morton's "Thunder at Twilight - Vienna 1913/1914". I'm now on page 62 which is a very good sign. Much good luck with your reading.

  2. I do not remember having this problem when I was younger, but maybe that's my failing memory. What intrigues me is the link between my fiction reading and my mood. Nonfiction is out of it completely. I am reading for information, then, not emotional or psychological engagement. I hope you enjoy Morton's book.

  3. I know exactly what you mean and suffer this problem too. I mostly buy from secondhand bookstalls now because I know that so many things I try to read will be discarded after only a few pages and if buying new I find it very hard to make a decision on what it is I want to read. The secondhand stall is good in that I don't know what it will throw at me. My reading taste has changed dramatically and books I once would not even have considered reading I now find the most satisfying.

  4. I'm intrigued by your changing reading taste, Rachel, and would love to hear more about it. Do you find that you still love books that you loved in the past? I can't imagine re-reading To the Lighthouse and not enjoying it more than ever.

    1. I cannot answer this very well in just a comment. However, yes, books that I judged to be great literary works in my past remain so. If we corresponded by email I would tell you more.