Reader's block- and how fantasy holds a special place for me.
I am an avid reader across many genres. I mostly read fiction, but that includes fantasy, sci-fi, classics, modern literary, Westerns, you name it. I also occasionally delve in non-fiction, short stories, essays, plays, graphic novels, magazine articles newspapers, and- every once in a while- poetry.* I have to admit that I don't read much in the romance genre and rarely touch murder mysteries (although I think I would probably like a well-written mystery). But, overall, I read a lot of different genres. The funny thing about my reading, however, is that I tend to read very heavily for a year or two and then suddenly stop. Sometimes, after I stop, it might take a year or two to really get started again. That doesn't mean stop reading all together, but I tend to only read newspapers and maybe, a couple of books while on vacation.
It's almost like a version of writer's block. Let's call it reader's block. Does this happen to you? Anyway, after reading a lot in 2019, I ran into another episode of "reader's block" this year. How can I describe reader's block? It's like books are almost too heavy to pick up. It starts to feel like reading a book has become more of a job than a pleasure**. It's like dating when you are a single introvert. It's like when you decide to take up jogging, realize how healthy it is but also realize that you can't stand it. You just can't face it. Anyway- I know this is a long, rambly post, so thanks for bearing with me; we're almost done here! The point here is that I have recently been in the funk of reader's block, and I was thinking about it while I was taking a walk (but not jogging!) and it suddenly occurred to me that I needed to get my hands on a good fantasy novel. But why a fantasy novel? That question popped into my brain. It's hard to explain, but I feel like fantasy (and science fiction) stories have some power over us that other stories (no matter how great) don't quite have. I remember reading an essay once that attempted to describe why there were alway
s Star Trek Conventions and Star Wars Conventions, but no MASH Conventions, nor Friends Conventions***, nor Miami Vice Conventions. There is some draw or connection in that which is fantastic and (somehow) we see ourselves in those different universes with different rules. For me, growing up, fantasy and science fiction were my first literary loves. In retrospect, a lot of it wasn't even very good, but even the most corny, unoriginal, stupid story could open the door to a whole new universe to get lost in. That sense of wonder (The wonder of seeing "what might be") has always carried me back to reading. And as much as I love literary fiction, it does not contain that element of "what might be".
So- of all things- it's the fantasy novels that most often pull me out my reader's block and get me moving again. It's like meeting an old friend who invites you over to their house, or invites you out to a pub. Somehow, getting back to fantasy of sci-fi takes me back to my roots and allows me to start reading again. footnotes: *I have to admit that I sometimes have trouble "getting" poetry. Not to say that there isn't some poetry that I've really enjoyed, but some of it is abstract enough that I have a hard time following it. **Having a book feel more like work than pleasure always reminds me of 8th grade. *** Was there a Friends Convention? Maybe there was one.