Discussion: A Case of Mood Reading For a Non-Mood Reader

Discussion

There are a lot of people in the book blogging community who are mood readers – they read certain books based solely on their mood – light, fluffy books when they’re in the mood for lighter books and heavy, “issue” books when they feel like they can handle that stuff easier. I’m not really a typical mood reader, but I can get some of those general moods, like light, fluffy, summer-y books in the summer and heavy, make-you-a-bit-mad-at-the-world books just about anytime (followed by more of those fluffy reads to detox).

Last month, however, things were a bit different. As you probably know by now, I was not feeling good last month at all – in fact, I was a bit miserable for a good measure of it. Normally sickness doesn’t really affect my enjoyment of a book, but in this case, it did with one book in particular: Breathe, Annie, Breathe by Miranda Kenneally, the latest in her beloved Hundred Oaks series.

You probably remember when this book came out earlier this summer and just about everyone seemed to be over the moon about it, either as they anxiously awaited the time when they’d get to read it or as they posted their gushing reviews. Expectations for this book were set pretty high for me and I was just about as excited as everyone else – which isn’t quite fair to the book probably, but really can’t be helped. So, when I saw the pretty blue cover at my library, I was quite excited, as expected.

I didn’t get to it right away because I had other books to read first, but I put it near the top of my to-read pile so that I could get to it pretty soon. Right before school started, I think, is when I finally got to it. I wasn’t wowed by it right away, but I was interested in it and didn’t plan on putting it down or anything. Then I was really, really busy with school, though, and then I got sick and didn’t feel like doing much of anything, including reading this book. As I slowly started to get better, I took advantage of my suddenly free time to do a lot more reading and read the majority of The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith/J.K. Rowling in a week or so, but my interest in this book didn’t go up at all – in fact, my interest began to wane.

I try to DNF books right away when I’m just not interested, but for some reason I just couldn’t do that with this book. After all, reviews were so glowing and I knew that I had given all of Miranda Kenneally’s books at least 3.5 stars, so obviously I enjoyed her books for the most part. So, I just wasn’t prepared to DNF it – but I also didn’t want to read it right now. So, what could I do?

I did what I do best: I thought about it and (probably over-)analysed why the book wasn’t working for me, and it came down to one specific reason: I felt too much of a connection with the book at the moment. No, I hadn’t just lost my boyfriend or anyone else for that matter to death and I didn’t have to overwork myself to raise money for college, but I found myself connecting too much with the way Annie felt about running at the point I was reading. You see, Annie was beginning to have health problems with running – you know, feeling completely exhausted and even vomiting because she was running herself too hard and not taking care of herself like she should. As I obsessed over my food and whether I was eating the right things and often feeling too stressed and tired to do much of anything, I didn’t really want to read about that in my books as well.

Normally when I feel a strong connection with the books I read, that’s a really good thing. When I read Morgan Matson’s Since You’ve Been Gone earlier this summer, one of my favorite things about it was that I saw so much of myself in main character Emily. Here, though, I wasn’t connecting with Annie and her personality – I was connecting with her physical exhaustion and some of her pain, and I just wasn’t able to deal with that right then.

So, I set aside this book for now and moved on to other things, and so far, as I write this post, I’ve haven’t really had the same problem with any other books. I’m definitely in the mood for more fluffy and quick reads right now than anything that gets too deep, but that’s my normal attitude, a more general mood that doesn’t make me too picky. There are some books I’m more interested in right now, but nothing has caused me as much pain right now to read.

It’s weird how certain books can have such a specific reaction from us, for better or for worse. There can be a book that makes you want to jump over the moon and run around shoving it in everyone’s face because you feel such a connection with it and just know that everyone else should read it, but there can also be books that are too painful to read, either at that specific point in your life or ever, because of that connection. I hope I can recognize those books that I just need to put aside for now rather than forever in the future, but that’s one of the most wonderful and frustrating things about books – you’ll never know which ones will end up affecting you in profound ways ahead of time. You just have to keep picking up books and trying.

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