It’s Official: I’m in a Reading Funk


I don’t know if it is the heatwave or what but I am entirely uninterested in reading right now. I have slipped into that mode where sudoku and minesweeper are more interesting to me and sitting and staring into space on the Metro doesn’t seem like a waste of time.

I have about five things going right now and none of them are holding my interest.

The Spoils of Poynton by Henry James (about 30 pages in)

Frost in May by Antonia White (about 75 pages in)

Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis (about 5 pages in)

Good Evening Mrs. Craven by Mollie Panter-Downes (about 100 pages in)

It might be that I just haven’t found the right book for the moment. I think my problem is that I may need  something contemporary. Everything on my plate right now is a little on the antiquated side.

So, what should I read?

Here are the parameters:

1. Published in the last five years (that is recent for me).
2. Action takes place in the present.
3. Nothing that requires a lot of suspension of disbelief (no magic powers or time travel).
4. Something kind of light, maybe even fun, but not necessarily funny.

(No, that picture isn’t me.)

25 thoughts on “It’s Official: I’m in a Reading Funk

  1. verity July 7, 2010 / 9:51 am

    Oh what a shame – Frost in May, Good evening Mrs Craven and Lucky Jim are all up your street, but maybe you're right and you need a break.

    You were wondering a while ago about University novels – you might enjoy The lessons by Naomi Alderman which is just out. I thought it a poor patch on a mixture of Brideshead Revisited and The secret history but did feel it was worth reading.


  2. Frances July 7, 2010 / 12:26 pm

    Did you read Major Pettigrew's Last Stand yet? Or the just released Mr. Rosenblum Dreams in English? I have both of them waiting for me to combat just the feelings you describe here. Light, fun, charming with skilled writing.


  3. musingsfromthesofa July 7, 2010 / 3:10 pm

    I am stumped (which shows you what my own reading is like!) I'm going to wait to see what other suggestions you get that match your criteria and then maybe get them for myself! But good luck with finding something. Reading slumps are tough.


  4. Lorin July 7, 2010 / 8:03 pm

    Have you read The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley? I didn't love it, but everyone else in the world did. And its set in England (though not the present, sorry).

    How about Thirteenth Tale? I loved it. Not as light as you might like, but enjoyable.


  5. music-books-steve July 7, 2010 / 9:08 pm

    Jacob's The Know-It-All (reading the Enc. Brit. cover to cover; non-fiction, but extremely funny, 2004); Mallon's Fellow Travelers (2007, gay govt workers have an affair in McCarthyite DC, (very sweet, often sad, but funny dialogue)


  6. Diane July 7, 2010 / 9:48 pm

    It happens to most of us. I would try a very light read, maybe even something funny like David Sedaris or Bill Bryson??

    good luck


  7. music-books-steve July 7, 2010 / 11:19 pm

    Alan Bennett's diminutive collection of three short stories, The Laying On of Hands. Intelligent, bitterly witty, and SHORT (… but 2002).


  8. savidgereads July 8, 2010 / 6:28 am

    Ooh I liked Good Evening Mrs Craven but sometimes when you arent in the mood you arent in the mood. It doesnt fit your criteria at all but maybe a Christie or some ofthe original fairy tales, they always work for me.


  9. Nadia July 8, 2010 / 7:39 am

    That rots! I know what you mean though – its like every book just does not seem interesting at this moment. I've been in a rut for a bit and that's why I decided to join reading challenges – in the hopes of getting inspired to read again. I just finished The Passage by Justin Cronin – which I would recommend to you, since it is contemporary fiction, but since it requires you to believe in the unbelievable, well, I still think it would be a fun read for you. Something totally different – vampire book that really isn't a vampire books. Of course there is always Henriett's War which does not take place in the present time at all, but is such a light and lovely read that perhaps it will perk you right up. Its by Joyce Dennys and is about life during ww2 – the people living on the periphery of the war, but that are still a part of it. Anyhow, good luck, Thomas! I hope you find something great to read soon!


  10. Susan in TX July 8, 2010 / 9:17 am

    Do you like mysteries? Nicola Upson has been writing some with the author Josephine Tey as a main character. The first one is called An Expert in Murder and was pretty good.

    Actually, I would prescribe a good children's book for your present reading slump malady. :) I'd recommend The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart. It is a little thick, but it's a very quick read. And, it fits all 4 of your parameters. :) I find that children's books meet my need for an easy, quick read and then make me hungry to get back to more complicated plot and vocabulary.

    I feel your pain. I'm struggling with Sir Walter Scott's Waverly myself. I read about 10 or so pages and then go look for something else to read. Fortunately or not, there is much at hand to keep me occupied.
    Hope you are “back to normal” soon! :)


  11. Stefanie July 8, 2010 / 10:52 am

    Oh no, a reading funk! Have you read Tana French's In the Woods? It's a mystery/thriller type book, well written with a great balance of plot and character that make it hard to put down. Good luck ending your funk!


  12. Amanda July 8, 2010 / 1:17 pm

    I can't think of the “perfect book” right now. But you recently moved and you may be suffering from “post-moving-reading-funk” (PMRF). I had it when I moved. I couldn't read anything new, I wanted a fresh stack of TBRs, nothing held my interest, and I spent a great deal of time staring at my cat and watching Dark Shadows.

    It took a few weeks and when I felt I was actually “home” I was able to pick up reading again.

    May the force be with you!


  13. kimberlyloomis July 9, 2010 / 9:27 am

    Hmmm… My recent fare has been rather underwhelming as well. The book that has been keeping me interested, however, is “The Piano Teacher” by Janice Y. K. Lee. “The Housekeeper and the Professor” was also a wonderful book. Didn't think I would like it but wound up falling quite in love with the prose and the characters.


  14. Kerry July 9, 2010 / 10:20 am

    Tricky situation – I was in the same boat a few weeks ago. I snapped out of it with the Wheel of Time, but that's incredibly magicky… what about Mary Roach? It's non-fiction, so not plot driven, but really, really, really fun. She wrote Stiff (history of cadavers), Spook (the afterlife) and Bonk (science of sex).

    In terms of fiction, I just finished Nichol's One Day, which is modern-day (well, starting in the 80s), not magic, and just came out last month.

    Good luck!


  15. music-books-steve July 9, 2010 / 12:53 pm

    How about going the other extreme and RE-reading a favorite Dickens, Twain, Austen, Trollope, Waugh?


  16. Thomas at My Porch July 9, 2010 / 3:38 pm

    Verity: I know, they are all right up my alley. Although I hope that Frost in May starts to lose some of its Catholic piety. I had enough of that as a child.

    Frances: I was thinking about Major P. It has been winking at me in bookstores and on blogs. I just haven't purchased it yet.

    Musings: Thanks. Hope you find something you like.

    Lorin: You make me laugh, recommending a book that didn't thrill you.

    music-books-steve: I have so many literary cobwebs in my head I need something to sweep them all away. Something a click above chick lit or its male equivalent.

    Simon: Oddly enough the day I bought Mrs Craven I also found a grooy old paperback of Oscar Wilde fairy tales. (no pun intended)

    Nadia: If I get over my antipathy toward vampires I might check it out. It has gotten good coverage in the blogosphere.

    Susan: I actually don't like mysteries. I find them a little too pat. But maybe if I found a good one it would be a nice change of pace.

    Stefanie: I have never heard of Tana French. I will have to look into her.

    Amanda: I think you might be right about PMRF. My piles of lovely books TBR just doesn't entice me these days. I need new blood!

    Kimberly: Falling in love against your will is always a fun thing–at least when it comes to books.

    Kerry: I loved Stiff but I haven't read her other books.


  17. Ted July 9, 2010 / 5:51 pm

    Tell Me Everything by Sarah Salway,
    The Emperor's Children by Claire Messud
    The First Verse by Barry McCrea
    all come to mind, the first is probably the closest to all your descriptions.


  18. Mrs. B. July 10, 2010 / 12:25 am

    Based on your parameters, I'd recommend either Looking for Alaska, a young adult novel I recently reviewed and surprisingly loved or Juliet Naked by Nick Hornby. I'm reading it now and it's fun so far.


  19. Mark Rice July 10, 2010 / 12:02 pm

    I'm new to your blog, so don't know what all you like to read. However, may I suggest anything by Peter Cameron? His most recent is SOMEDAY THIS PAIN WILL BE USEFUL TO YOU. My favorite, however, is THE CITY OF YOUR FINAL DESTINATION, which was just made into a movie.


  20. Thomas at My Porch July 11, 2010 / 11:35 am

    Ted: I have like some of Messud's books, but was a little disappointed by The Emperor's Children. But you did hit the nail on the head in terms of the kind of book I am looking for.

    Mrs B: It has been a while since I have read any YA.

    Mark: I will have to read some before I see the movie. I hate having books ruined by movies that aren't up to the challenge. And most aren't.


  21. Nan July 11, 2010 / 4:03 pm

    You could always listen to the audio version, as I did, Thomas.


  22. madbibliophile July 16, 2010 / 7:25 am

    Oh, I'm in a reading funk too. And it's the middle of winter here. Maybe I need something light and fluffy for a change…


  23. Lorin July 22, 2010 / 6:43 pm

    I know, its weird recommending a book that didn't click with me. But since everyone else in the world liked it (I swear) I assume that's just me and my dislike of precocious children as main characters (and, yes, that extends to the simpering Harriet the Spy. Blasphemy!).


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