Our Reading Lives

My Winter Reading Ennui

Emily Wenstrom

Staff Writer

By day, Emily Wenstrom is a content marketing specialist. By early-early morning, she is E. J. Wenstorm, an award-winning sci-fi and fantasy author whose debut novel Mud was named 2016 Book of the Year by the Florida Writers Association.. Her Chronicles of the Third Realm War series includes Mud (#1), Tides (#2), Rain (#0), and more to come. Follow her on Twitter @ejwenstrom.

I often get a general sense of bleh around the winter months. I hate being cold, and I hate layering up even more, so I’ve created my own catch-22 of laziness. But this season, in addition to my usual hatred for the temperature, I’ve hit a true ennui with my reading that I cannot quite understand.

Despite my ever-growing to-be-read pile and a general sense of excitement about the titles waiting for me, I can’t quite get myself excited for or fully invested in the things I am already reading.

And its been like this for months. Even from the entire past year, I can only remember two or three titles that really drew me in.

I hate this feeling because there is nothing I love quite the way I love to be fully invested in a book. Go ahead, give me one little reason to be obsessed. I’ll run with it into next Tuesday.

Really. It doesn’t take much. Meet me halfway, books. Come on.

So what’s going on? I’ve been thinking about it a lot, and I have found a few issues.

Reading as a writer

Once I started writing in my mid-20s, reading changed. It can be harder to let go and immerse yourself in a story, because the greater the writing is, the more you want to study it as you read and decipher its genius. You also want to play with the language and think about what you might have done differently.

Perhaps because 2017 was an extremely stressful year, my brain has been on the fritz lately. So I’ve been much worse about this along with other neurotic habits. Like I caught my brain modifying my own writing hero Ray Bradbury last night. Ray Bradbury. Who the hell does my writing brain think I am?

Supporting small press authors

I love my small press. I’m proud to be a small press author. And I’m truly honored to be peers with some of the other amazing authors my small press publishes.

As I branch out in the publishing world through events and online networking, I’ve found myself adding a lot of other authors’ small press releases to my stack—you know, the artist thing, let’s lift each other up, karma, etc.

But. The blunt truth is, small press quality can be really inconsistent. So yeah, some are awesome discoveries. But others are mediocre. Which leads to a mediocre reading experience that doesn’t captivate me the same way.

Sorry small press, lots of love, But this is the reality.

Spreading myself too thin

Work, writing, family drama—2017 just would not quit. It took a toll for sure.

But I spent January recharging and reprioritizing to make more mental space win my life. So would that really have anything to do with an ennui now, in February? I am suspecting that, somehow, yes it does.

But spreading myself too thin is also about not giving each book the attention it’s due. I usually read just one book at a time, carrying it from my bedside to coffee shops and mm metro to work. But in my ennui, I’ve picked up one book after another, until now, I have actively engaged four books this week along that I have in process.

So I am finishing them in the reverse order, starting with the one I am closest to finishing.

Bottom line, I need to get my reading groove back.

So after I finish my in-progress reads, I’m going straight from my vegetables, skipping over the healthy protein of my TBR pile, and reaching straight for dessert: I’m filling my queue with some new reads that I’m utterly enthralled by, and going back to some reads I know will always hit my sweet spot, like Hunger Games, Miriam Black, and Gillian Flynn.

That ought to pull me through, right? After all, spring is right around the corner.

Right? Right? Please lie to me and tell me spring is almost here.