4 Strategies for the Dreaded Reading Slump

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Do you ever get that feeling that you just can’t read another word? That you can’t stand a book you loved just a few days ago? A reading slump, for the avid reader, is painful. It’s like having a fight with a best friend.

I recently went through a slump from a variety of reasons: too ill to think, starting a new office job, and being in the midst of some very heavy books (The Meaning of Freedom, Tainted WitnessIf This Is A Woman: Inside Ravensbruck). Even articles and magazines lost their allure – and I’m one of those people who will read the oven manual if there’s nothing else around!

I managed to overcome the slump with a few tactics:

1. Take a break from reading

When you don’t feel like reading, don’t force yourself. Instead of picking up a book to read on the train or in the evening, I looked at dream interiors on Pintrest, watched How to Get Away With Murder, and listened to podcasts. Working on non-bookish projects and getting outdoors are other options.

2. Go book shopping – at the library

I love the library for many, many reasons, but one of the best is that an unread book can be returned, rather than sitting on the bookshelf making you feel guilty for not reading it. I browsed the shelves for a while, picking up interesting titles and covers. One book had a recommendation from Diana Gabadon on it – one of my favourite pleasure-read authors. It was much shorter than her books, so I figured I’d try it.

3. Read something light in a favourite genre

The book was Shadow on the Crown, about Queen Emma of Normandy, who was queen of England from 1002-1035 and mother to two subsequent kings. Her remarkable life, about which not much is known beyond a book she commissioned in 1040, is brought to life by Patricia Bracewell in a scheming court with a side romance for good measure. Unfortunately, the third book is still in progress, but reading the first two in the trilogy was enough to jump-start my reading habits.

4. Ask a friend for a recommendation

I was talking to my friend about the Queen Emma trilogy. She recommended another historical quasi-romance series, the Maggie Hope mysteries.  I still felt the need for something less involved than social justice non-fiction, so I found the books at the library and devoured the first two (the third is sitting in my pile of Bailey’s Prize longlisters waiting patiently). I can’t recommend bookish friends enough – we’ve all been there! No IRL bookish friends? The Books and Feminism community is here for you.

What are your best strategies for overcoming a reading slump?

Women Writers 2017 Reading Challenge

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This reading challenge is pretty simple: only read books by women writers for one year. Bonus: Review it in as many places as possible – blog, Goodreads, Twitter, smoke signals, whatever gets the word out about fabulous women writers. I’ll be using #womenwriters2017 on Twitter and Instagram

What counts? Any writer who identifies as a woman.That’s it. Books co-authored by men are ok, but a woman has to be one of the authors. If it’s a collection, one of the editors should be a woman OR at least half the entries should be by women.

Find a book by a man you really want to read? Add it to your TBR and read it in 2017.

Need suggestions? Check out the Bailey’s Women’s Prize for Fiction, the Amelia Bloomer Project, VIDA, Persephone Books, or Our Shared Shelf for inspiration.

Sign up here for the Challenge and to receive a monthly newsletter!

Review: The Improbability of Love by Hannah Rothschild

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Read: The Improbability of Love by Hannah Rothschild

Stars: Five

Drinking: Lavazza Prontissimo! Intenso

The Improbability of Love is a sprawling novel full of intrigue featuring the seedy underbelly of London’s high art world.  At first glance, it seems like the usual contemporary fiction, but Rothschild has crafted the story so well that the reader is immersed. I only put it down with regret for work and sleep. This book has everything: Nazis, dysfunctional parent-child relationships, a sweet love story, and MI5.

What made the novel so unique from others in its class was the characters, particularly the titular painting. Found – rescued – from a junk shop by Annie, a broken-hearted chef, the painting tells us its story interwoven with Annie’s and that of Rebecca, Annie’s boss and heir to an art auction house. From the painter’s short and tragic life to Nazi looters, and royal hijinks all over Europe in between, the painting represented love to all who owned it.

She has the eye. The heart. She may be bog poor but she knows, doesn’t she? She can feel and sense my greatness. Like anyone, I need to be loved and admired.

Jesse was another character that I loved. He knew that Annie was struggling with both herself, her past relationship, and her mother. Instead of pushing her into a relationship or whining about being “friendzoned,” he accepted that Annie did not want a romantic relationship and instead was actually a friend. As an artist, he was fascinated by the painting and its mystery. He was able to put aside his unrequited romance to support Annie in solving the puzzle, even when it

The mystery part of the book was gripping as well, especially in the last twists and turns of the painting’s history. I honestly did not see the twists and turns of the last quarter of the book coming.

The Improbability of Love is a fun, lighthearted mystery. I highly recommend it.

 

Saturday Tea & Feminism

Well, Brexit is happening. As a recent immigrant to the UK, I’m interested to see how it will all play out economically and politically. I’m nerding out a bit to see how the process will actually work. The little details are fascinating!

Anyway, have a great weekend and enjoy these links! If you read anything good, share it, please!

(Also, as an aside, it bugs me that when I look for stock photos of women with tea it’s almost exclusively white women – even when I specifically search “African American woman” or “diverse women” *grumble*)

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Brexit is a feminist issue and women need to be equally involved in the negotiations. (The Telegraph)

In common sense news: South Africa’s Constitutional Court ruled that bursaries (scholarships) for virgins are unconstitutional. (BBC)

Another legal win for women: “Congolese politician Jean-Pierre Bemba was sentenced to 18 years in prison by the International Criminal Court on Tuesday for heading a 2002-03 campaign of rape and murder.” (Huffington Post)

Breastfeeding in literature. (The Millions)

A good review of Jessica Valenti’s new book. (New Republic)

 

Saturday Tea & Feminism

It’s a holiday in both the US and UK this weekend. I’m off to visit extended family. I hope you are doing something fun too!

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Did you see the list of 50 Fictional Women BK mag is obsessed with? So many books added to the TBR and re-read piles. (Brooklyn Magazine)

A man’s place in feminism is behind the women – and other lessons from African women. (The Daily Vox)

Refashioning Masculinity unleashes the power of fashion to re-imagine men’s gender identities and foster their diversity.”  (Refashioning Masculinity)

The Human Rights Education Associates has a Gender Responsive Budgeting course starting 15 June. (HREA)

Silliness: have you seen The Man Who Has It All yet? The comments on the Facebook page are fabulous. (Man Who Has It All)

Meanwhile, I reviewed Hideous Kinky and wrote about smartphones.

 

Saturday Tea & Feminism

I’m spending the whole weekend reading the Bailey’s Prize shortlist, probably at the park while Toddler goes down the slide for hours. Are you doing anything fun?

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12 empowering children’s books with girl protagonists for your kids. How have I only read 3 of these? (Bust)

Book Rioter Alice compiled a list of 17 great books about women from Book Expo America. RIP TBR pile. (Book Riot)

How boobs, menstruation, and good looks get in the way of girls learning to code. (Adweek)

This “New” Feminism Has Been Here All Along. (Yes! Magazine)

Access to Digital Technology Accelerates Global Gender Equality. (Harvard Business Review)

Saturday Tea and Feminism Link Roundup

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Here are 5 links I liked this week about feminism, books, and international affairs.

So proud of Maryland! (PR Web)

Watch Save the Children’s powerful video about refugees. (Adweek) (h/t Sarah)

The World Bank Group is finally addressing LGBTQI issues by hiring a Sexual Orientation & Gender Identity expert. (Devex)

bell hooks reacts to Lemonade (bell hooks Institute)

On a lighter note, Hannah Oliver Depp shares some #blackgirlmagic books for fans of Lemonade. (Book Riot)

And ICYMI, I wrote about teaching my son to be a feminist.