An Oops and Some Thoughts.

Well oops. Just like I warned might happen in my first post I slipped down the vortex of reading new books (or re-reading!) and not stopping long enough to write down my thoughts on each book before I moved on. I also hit a little bit of a reading-block if that makes sense to you, if it doesn’t don’t worry because I’m about to explain.

Much like a writer’s block can be an immovable barrier to a writer’s creativity and imagination, a reading block leaves you incapable of focusing on a book or even lacking any desire to read. Different things can lead to a reading block for me; sometimes a period of constant reading can just leave me feeling empty and shrivelled. I can read about 3-4 books a day at the height of my focus and sometimes I just burn out from the intense energy I put into absorbing that many books in quick succession. Things also begin to blur into each other when I’m reading that much and I get more despairing of the common themes and devices that are repeated across the genres I read the most of. Usually I deal pretty well with motifs across literature – just because the story is the same it doesn’t make the writing any less engaging or entertaining and I don’t believe original is a byword for excellence. But when you read the same character for the umpteenth time or begin to foretell the plot for the fourth book in a row things can get frustrating. Genre trends can also create a little bit of a reading block. Usually after the publication of a major hit in a genre you see a spate of books with similar themes and preoccupations. I don’t mean people start copying the winning formula (although that definitely happens too). Publishers see the success this particular theme has and suddenly books that might not have seemed as appealing beforehand could be the next big thing. Often this could mean a book written years before the ‘Big Hit’ will now see the light of day, propelled along publishing line by the appeal of their second cousin twice removed (in book terms of course!) This isn’t necessarily a negative, if it hadn’t been for the success of The Hunger Games would we have seen some of the excellent dystopian novels that emerged? But like the two-faced god Janus so beloved of the fantasy genre there is a downside. The market becomes over-saturated with almost identikit books and any true gems can be buried under the avalanche of mediocre and downright awful novels that appear. When the majority of books being published in a genre at a particular time are all very similar, it can be very hard to motivate yourself to read much, because they all blur together. At the moment I believe fairy-tale retellings are experiencing a surge in YA fantasy, and I’ve read some brilliant books arising from this (The Wrath and the Dawn, Crimson Bound, Sisters Red) but I’m wary of the tide rising.

Another common cause of a reading block for me is when I read a book so devastatingly amazing that it rips a hole in my soul and any book I try to read afterwards is like eating vanilla ice-cream after you’ve had a deep rich berry sorbet. Nothing wrong with vanilla ice-cream, and sometimes that’s exactly what you want, but it can’t reach the depth of flavour the sorbet provided. I didn’t read the Lord of the Rings until I was 12 and it shifted my entire reading compass. North was now the heartache I experienced when I looked up from the last page and realised I didn’t live in Middle-Earth and would never meet these characters, or experience their world other than through the medium of reading. I’ve experienced a similar feeling upon finishing series such as The Wind of Fire by William Nicholson and The Abhorsen trilogy by Garth Nix (OF WHICH A NEW ONE COMES IN OCTOBER AND I AM INCAPABLE OF HIDING MY EXCITEMENT). Most recently, and probably the closest I’ve ever felt to how I did when I finished Lord of the Rings, The Wall of Night series has gripped me tightly in its claws and dug in deep. In fact it is the recent release of the third book of the series that is largely to blame for my blogging absence. I read it. Then I took a week and read it again. Then I took a few more weeks, and read it a third time. I’ve spent the time since trying to figure out how to review a book that makes me cry every time I read it and leaves me so desperately desperate for the next one that I’m considering moving to New Zealand and camping outside Helen Lowe’s house until it is ready. I read it for the fourth time yesterday and I think I finally have enough distance to be able to review it coherently…..for the most part.

So that’s whats coming next! This was just meant as an apology post (but I got a little deeper than planned!) and the next time you hear from me will be with my thoughts on Daughter of Blood by Helen Lowe. Hopefully before the end of this week!

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