The Between Books Blue Funk

dull bookWell, it’s happened. The miasma is upon me. After a string of really enjoyable reads, I am Between Books.

I know you’ve been there, that unhappy head space where you’ve got high, high expectations from having just finished a really enjoyable book (or, if one is lucky, a spate of three or four) and you’re tired when you go to bed because a bunch of new real-life projects are in the works, and you turn to your bedside table piled high with great choices ….

… and go flat. I like Sarah Allison’s writing–that matchmaking apple-flinger tree was one of the most lovable romance characters ever–and I admit readily the reason I can’t get into The Peach Keeper is me, not her. Or The Rebel Bookseller. It’s a great book with important things to say! So is Big Box Swindle. Each of these waits on the table by my bed, weeping softly. All of these are books I’ve looked forward to reading.

Sarah Nelson discusses in her memoir So Many Books, So Little Time how your mood and recent life moments must align in some way with what you’re reading, or you can’t get into authors even though you want to. Wise readers put them down and return later.

Usually the catalyst for breaking my Between Books Blue Funk is to read something completely different from what I normally choose. So the other night I grabbed a post-apocalyptic young adult novel, and settled in.

It didn’t work. The novel was awful, but not even awful enough to trigger the horrible-writing-response that lies dormant in all of us, inciting print-blood lust to rip the thing apart. This was more the toss-aside casual disdain of “oh, please.” In a badly-crafted amalgam of  Hunger Games goes on The Road, literary crimes are just way too obvious to ignite passion.

And so I sit, stuck. How could this happen to a bookshop owner, you ask, spoiled for choice an’ a’ that? Perhaps that’s part of the (first world) problem; too many choices reduces one to making none. Or perhaps this is the consequence of binge-watching the whole Season Four of Downton Abbey in one week. (Yes, we know, but we won’t spoil it for you.) I’ve let my reading muscles go slack.

Although I did get quite a lot of crocheting done.

Whatever the combination of reasons that have led to this winter of my book discontent, I hope it’s over soon. There are so many new writers and worlds to explore, I hate to fall behind.

Book Zodiac

For those who want to find their soulmate on the same page, here is my Book Zodiac list, based on a lifetime of observing readers:

1) MYSTERICUS – You like your mysteries intense. No Pattersons, but you’ll take a Kellerman now and again. You have been known at parties to break into Dashiell Hammett-speak after a couple of drinks. Compatible with Humorouses, under no circumstances should you date a Cozymyst.

2) COZYMYST – When you say you love mysteries, you mean Tamar Myers and Diane Mott Davidson. You think Janet Evanovich hung the moon, and your house is full of candles, soap, beadwork and braided rag rugs you’ve made “just like the one ” in the latest mystery you read. You have an entire attic full of bookshelves holding color-coded-by-spine cozy mysteries, because you never know when you’ll need the patterns in them again. Your family lives in terror of your handmade Christmas presents. You will get along well with anyone from Humorous and, oddly enough, the Faulkneresque signs.

3) HUMOROUS – The most versatile of the signs, you love to read funny stuff. Crossing genres and streets, you go out of your way to help others, to be the laugh of the party. You can recite “Who’s on First” in three languages, and you light candles on Dave Barry’s birthday. You and your sign siblings might be the only people left alive in America who still read Bennett Cerf. Although everyone gets along well with you, you really need a Cormacite or a Polisigher to round out your life. Make friends with Scifighters, but DON’T marry one!

4) FAULKNERESQUE – Do not date a Fauxfaulk; it will end in disaster. You read the classics list for your older sister’s Advanced Placement Literature class when you were ten. By the time you entered college, you had to major in business studies because the English classes were too dull; you could have taught them. You carry War and Peace around on subways in a real hardback, and your family doesn’t shop for your birthday anymore; they just give you the next leather-bound Harvard Classics volume in the series. When you get duplicates, you donate them at Goodwill. Marry a Scifighter; it might not seem like a natural fit, but you two need each other.

5) CORMACITE – If it’s dark, you like it. The Road, On the Beach, 1984…. you devoured them. Malcolm Muggeridge’s Winter in Moscow is your favorite book, and while you will read non-fiction, you really, really want to live in a world created by Allen Drury or Dean Ing. A  downer at parties, you are the only sign that doesn’t get along with Humoruses; you mistrust cheerful people because they don’t understand we’re all doomed. Although you hung around with the Scifighters in high school, it’s time to grow up now and marry a nice Rosepetalist. She’ll make you happy–and you’ll like it!

6) POLISIGHER – You should not marry or be friends with Cormacites; you can’t take them seriously. Polisighers devour conspiracy theory books, read the latest Ann Coulter or Michael Moore (depending on their leanings) religiously, and believe that the world is going to hell in a non-fiction handbasket. Boring on the surface, Polisighers are surprisingly good conversationalists when offered food; you can forge strong and lasting alliances with Cozymysts for just this reason. Histbuffs should be avoided; you know too much about each other.

7) FAUXFAULK – You are the person who rushes out to buy Great Gatsby and Atlas Shrugged–the day after you see the movie. You LOVE to talk about the intellectual underpinnings and societal messages that the hoi polloi are too dumb to get, which you can explain, in great detail, at dinner parties. Which is why you get invited to so few of them. Do yourself a favor; marry a nice Rosepetalist and raise kids who are Faulkneresques. It’s inevitable.

8) SCIFIGHTER – In high school you faked a broken leg to read undisturbed during gym. You know the name, episode number, plot, and errors of every episode of Star Trek AND what the TV novelizations did wrong. You know the difference between Clifford Simak and Larry Niven, and you dismiss McCaffrey, Whyte, and Foster with a disdainful sniff. You are underemployed and underappreciated. For a life of poverty but being understood, marry a Goreifyer. If you want to eat and own a house someday, marry a Faulkneresque.

9) ROSEPETALIST You are deeper than people believe, but content to let it go. After all, life is for loving, not fighting. So you know more about King Henry VIII’s court than your average history professor; does it matter? Go by, mad world, so long as the chocolate supply holds out and the newest Harlequin is delivered to your door each week. You like bad boys, so are drawn to Goreifyers, but for true happiness, get yourself a nice Fauxfaulk and a house in the ‘burbs.

10) GOREIFYER – If it’s gross, you love it. Don’t try to hang with a Cormacite; you don’t understand each other as much as you think you do. Robert McCammon is your patron saint, although Steven King can sometimes deliver the goods. Marry your high school sweetheart Scifighter, or break from the pack and hook up with a Histbuffer. You’ll have more to talk about than you might suppose.

11) HISTBUFFER – You hate the term amateur historian, because you’ve dedicated your life to a well-rounded reading list of the latest equivalent to Simon Schama and Thomas Cahill. You know more about Thomas Jefferson than any person living–and are happy to prove it. That’s why you don’t get asked to parties much, but it gives you more reading time. Date across the signs; it will help you socialize.

12) YAER – You read young adult fiction almost exclusively. Suzanne Collins is your idol, and you write whenever you have spare time. Someday you are going to shove that Potter kid right off the shelf. Although you have many friends who are Cormacites, marry a Faulkneresque if you can; they’re good providers and you might not have to get a day job.