Our Reading Lives

My Annual Winter Reading Slump

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Cassandra Neace

Staff Writer

Cassandra Neace is a high school English teacher in Houston. When she's not in the classroom, she reads books and writes about them. She prides herself on her ability to recommend a book for most any occasion. She can be found on Instagram @read_write_make

To be more accurate, I should say that it is a post-holiday reading slump. It has happened, to varying degrees, for several years now.  Last year, I immersed myself in the world of fanfiction for nearly three months, but I almost never touched a book. This year, I’ve done okay at reading a short story now and then, but I haven’t read a full length novel – not even a short one – since I finished Sweetland over the winter holidays.  I’ve started a few, but the urge to read dissipates after a few pages.

It’s not the fault of the books. I want to read them. I am interested in them. I just can’t focus. Winter seems the ideal time to curl up with one good book after another. We’ve even had cooler weather in Houston this year.  There’s been more than one day where curling up under a blanket with a book would have been ideal. Instead, I found myself drawn to the TV, and I kept my hands busy with crafts.

This year, my distraction is crochet, cross stitch, and quilting. Last year it was Sherlock fanfiction. One year, I spent all my free time perfecting quick bread recipes. I have a mean zucchini pineapple bread recipe as a result. I always find something to keep me busy for a while – 6 weeks one year,  3 months another – but I find my way back to my books eventually.

I think it started when I was younger. I would get a stack of books for Christmas every year, and I’d spend the next few weeks devouring them. I’d end up a few weeks into the new year with nothing left to read. I would go to the library, but that only kept me going for a while. I’d lose interest. I’ve always been a book buyer. I like to own the books that I read. I like to take notes in the margins. I dog-ear the pages. I can’t do that – not in good conscience, anyway – to books that aren’t mine.  So, until my book-buying budget recovered from its holiday depletion, I had to find other ways to fill my time.

Now, when I have an endless supply of books at my disposal, I find myself reverting to my old habits. I find distractions. It’s not a conscious effort, but it is something that I still do every year. I do things differently every year, but I still find myself taking a vacation from my books during those long winter months.  They sit on their shelves, waiting for me to return, confident that I will do so. And I will. After I finish a few projects.


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