A Slight Detour or How to Deal with Reader’s Block

June 30, 2009

forgetIn preparation for my specialization exams, which are in less than a month (!), I have been reading at a ridiculous rate. Since the semester ended in May, I drew up a schedule for myself in order to make sure I made it through the list, while at the same time taking enough notes to make sure I didn’t simply forget everything – in one eye and out the other.  The list is about 90 books long; granted I had already completed or started a good number of them. Until recently, I have managed to stay relatively on top of the list, but hit a wall last week – reader’s block. I allowed myself to take a few days off, thinking maybe my brain just needed a rest, maybe it was full. But when I tried to get back to it, I would be able to read for a bit, but not with the same attention or speed. So, as a strategy to get back to the reading, I told myself that any kind of reading counted, and it didn’t have to be a lot. I started with the Acknowledgment sections, a section I had generally skipped or skimmed over. And the strategy worked. I would read the Acknowledgments and somehow it would get me motivated to read the book. Here’s an example that I loved from a book called Seeing Like A State: How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed :

After thanking several people and institutions who aided in the development of the book, James C. Scott ends the “Acknowledgments” section with this paragraph:

“I’d like to kick the habit of writing books, at least for  a while. If there were a detox unit or an analog to the nicotine patch for serial offenders, I think I would sign up for treatment. My habit has already cost me more precious time than I care to admit. The problem with book writing and other addictions is that the resolve to quit is greatest during withdrawal, but as the painful symptoms recede, the craving is apt to return. Louise and our children, Mia, Aaron, and Noah, would, I know, be only too happy to have me committed until I was “clean.” I’m trying. God knows I’m trying” (xiv).

I mean, doesn’t that make you want to read the book? It worked for me.

(The image above is by artist, Filippo Minelli. I stumbled upon his work perusing a friend’s blog (www.thoughtpatterns.ca) – another fun pastime when suffering from reader’s block.)

4 Responses to “A Slight Detour or How to Deal with Reader’s Block”

  1. Martin Bar Says:

    Reader’s block – in one eye out the other – amazing.

  2. tracingmemory Says:

    Thanks! Maybe reader’s block is a blessing in disguise.


  3. tracingmemory Says:

    Thanks, Jamie! I’m sure I’ll be back in the groove soon.


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