Sometimes you just really need a book. You may be in a situation needing distraction, or comfort, or—damnit, you just need a book, I don't need to explain it to you, of all people. A good book, the kind that you find yourself wishing for dinner or conversation to be over, so you can get back to it.

But—and I recognize this isn't a news flash—not all books can be that book. This has been an obscurely disappointing reading summer for me. I've been reading all sorts of different things—Trollope again (usually so reliable); Agatha Christie; Richard Price; Dorothy Sayers (a first for me). And truly, the most satisfying part of it, reading-wise, was 1) watching Lucy get into Agatha Christie for the first time (I sent her off on a bus trip recently with And Then There Were None, and I felt like I'd given her a most precious gift), and 2) having Diana, with whom I had to share a bed for a few nights for heat wave/air conditioning reasons, read Brandon Sanderson aloud to me. Which was glorious.

These were high peaks in my reading pleasure this summer—there's no question. But still, I long for a book (to read) of my own. Nothing seems to grab me the way it once did, I feel like watching Chestnut and Diana dive into the reading they love is a bit like seeing them devour an appealing meal from behind glass. I want some! 

I admit that it is possible the problem is me. I'm tired and crabby and stressed this summer, which makes me a less than perfect reader. But, I just wish…that I was coming upon the Kate Atkinson detective novels for the first time. Or…just something, anything, that compels me. Right now I'm lazily going between I Love You, Beth Cooper, which is more like a TV script than a novel (fine if that's your thing), and The Chess Men, which is too convinced of its own gravity to enjoy. It's possible I am a bitter, difficult to satisfy jerk, incapable of enjoying anything. Anyone know a book for someone like that?

12 thoughts on “Forsaken

  1. I have felt the same way this summer. I have started and petered out on old favorites, new excitements, fiction, non-fiction, everything I can think of, and nothing seems to take. I just look at them desultorily and then restlessly check my grocery list.
    I’m a full time student and I’ve chalked this problem up to the fact that my brain got too full during the school year and I got to used to speed reading for content; my getting-lost-in-a-book muscles atrophied. But maybe it’s something in the air. The tide of current events and political folderol has given us all ADD maybe?


  2. I do not know. Maybe go back to something you’ve loved loved? Maybe get luckier than we have any right to expect? I only wish I knew. I am persevering through the book I do not love, hoping that somehow I will emerge on the other side energized and new.


  3. I am the same way, although I seem to have recovered a little bit. The last book I got completely lost in was Ann Patchett’s Bel Canto, which I have not read for years but I remember being totally sucked in. Also, J.G. Farrell– Troubles, and Siege of Krishnapur. Especially Troubles.


  4. The only thing that has really grabbed me lately (and these kidnapped me for a couple of days each) are Elena Ferrante’s first two in her Naples series. It was like being ten again and having to be reminded to eat when I had a good book. Now I am waiting to reward myself with the third one.


  5. I just reread the Harry Potter series for the 7th or 8th time so I am no help (I do this every year on our Maine vacation so I don’t get stuck in the middle of nowhere with terrible books).


  6. I just devoured a couple by Kim Stanley Robinson. Shaman made me ignore my family completely and Aurora was almost as good (bad?) Those are the only two I’ve read by him, my husband describes the other ones as ‘patchy’ so be aware 🙂 They are easy reads and go down pretty fast.
    I think you would also like The Last Samurai by Helen DeWitt. Impossible for me to describe, but head over to GoodReads and see what you think.


  7. I read Americanah with my students last semester and loved it. This summer was so busy that I didn’t read ANY books for fun… Well…except the new Harry Potter book, but that is only because my daughter began reading it out loud to me because she knew I wouldn’t begin a book–too busy. I listened to her all night and we finished it. It was awesome.


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