A certain burning question has been eating away at my conscience ever since the previous academic year began. It resurfaces every time I give yet another novel the two-star treatment, or close a book only to say, “meh”. Though I don’t expect to reach an answer by writing this post, I hope that by thinking out loud I can take a few steps closer.
Is there such a thing as book fatigue?
(Note: this book fatigue actually has little to do with Russia books. Well, I’m growing weary of them too, but for completely different reasons.)
Let me back up a bit and give the situation some context.
First, I’m an intrinsic learner – I learn for the sake of learning. The quest for knowledge is rewarding in itself. The knowledge is even better. You don’t get to where you can identify bug species on sight without first poring over dozens of field guides.
Second, I love books, and my hunger for them has proven insatiable in the past. As a young child, I read constantly. In middle school, when other students gravitated to Twilight and Percy Jackson, I was reading Shakespeare. In high school, we all read Shakespeare for class, but I read outside of class for leisure too: Pelevin; Vidal; King; Chekhov; Hurston. Books are double-stacked and weighing down my shelves. I have a Goodreads account with over 700 added books. And of course there’s this blog, which I initially created as a home for book reviews.
So why then does reading so often feel like a chore nowadays?
For me, reading leisure books is akin to eating snack cakes without frosting – they soon blend together and become indistinguishable. Character archetypes stand out in clear relief. I cease to be surprised by writing style and plot. I find myself thinking “I could’ve written that just as well, if not better!” and I am usually underwhelmed or highly critical of new books.
Of course there are exceptions, but they come only once in a blue moon.
So what’s going on? Am I searching for my books in the wrong places?
Am I not able to turn off my “critic mentality”?
Are books becoming more contrived and derivative?
Am I just jaded?
Or is there really such a thing as book fatigue?
The truth is out there.