Thoughtful Thursday: Ennui

Yes, dear readers, I feel a sense of ennui. I don’t know if it is post-holiday depression, or Seasonal Affective Disorder, or the unrelenting snow covering my yard, or what, but I feel a delicate tinge of lavender shaded ennui around the borders of my soul. The primary symptom of this is that I don’t feel like reading anything. Nothing looks good. I’m tired. I’m cranky. The Harry Potter movie was depressing. There is nothing new or original out there in the literary world.

Do you ever get into one of these funks? If so, how do you make it go away? What new and lovely book are you looking forward to this year that could put the spark back into my soul?

(Okay, so I may be a little overly dramatic here for literary effect – hush, Sarah – so don’t be worried about me or anything. But I am bored with everything I’ve tried picking up in the last week. And you can only play so many games of solitaire before you hate yourself.)

So, dear readers, are you in the winter doldrums? What are you looking forward to reading in the next few months?fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews

Also, when my husband asked what my topic was this week, and I said, “Ennui,” he wanted to know when I’d started reviewing computer games. :)

We’ll randomly pick  a commenter to choose a book from our stacks.

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RUTH ARNELL (on FanLit's staff January 2009 — August 2013) earned a Ph.D. in political science and is a college professor in Idaho. From a young age she has maxed out her library card the way some people do credit cards. Ruth started reading fantasy with A Wrinkle in Time and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe — books that still occupy an honored spot on her bookshelf today. Ruth and her husband have a young son, but their house is actually presided over by a flame-point Siamese who answers, sometimes, to the name of Griffon.

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  1. Joe57 /

    Interesting, I am the exact opposite, I love the time right after the holidays because I can finally get to all the books that I have wanted to read for so long. I have plowed through a book a day for the past four days. Glorious. Next up, the Malazan series.

  2. This happens to me once in a while. Nothing interests me. I find that is when I need to read something that I would normally never choose to. If you normally read fantasy then choose something from a very different genre. Something completely outside your comfort zone. It’s often led me out of a slump. :)

  3. Those funks happen to the best of us. Normally when they happen to me, I usually leave things alone for a little while, switch to a different hobby for a time until my mojo comes back. Either that or I’ll spend weeks flitting from one thing to another, nothing quite satisfying me and feeling worse all the time. I vastly prefer the former to the latter.

    Hope your ennui runs its course soon and you feel more yourself again.

  4. ennui…. isn’t that a mushroom?
    I do what Leah does — when I get in a slump, I choose something that wasn’t really on my radar before. Usually I choose a classic — something that lots of people have praised but that I haven’t had a chance to read yet.

    @Joe Malazan — wow — that’ll keep you busy for a while!

  5. I concur with Leah–switch genres. Sometimes I get sick of everything on my TBR mountain and go read a mystery or some nonfiction instead.

  6. I don’t often get this ennui feeling because usually I’m more in “oh god how am I going to read all these books so I can get the reviews in on time” mode. But in the rare event that I don’t have anything that gets me either excited or stressed out, I usually grab an anthology. Short stories are a great way to try out different authors, styles, genres – and get excited about something new to read.

  7. SandyG265 /

    When I get in a slump I change to a different genre. Right now I’m reading mysteries because I was having trouble getting into any of the fantasy books on my TBR pile. I’m looking foward to River Marked by Patricia Briggs and The Land of Painted Caves by Jean Auel.

  8. I switch genres too, about every third or forth book. Sometimes it’s as easy as going from Fantasy to Sci-fi, or even just changing sub-genres, like epic to sword & sorcery. But usually it means I’ll pick-up a Western or a Crime Noir.

    Or when it’s really bad I try to find something totally different, but I usually have problems doing that, because my reading taste is probably kinda limited compared to most book-worms

    Hey, maybe give a graphic novel a try. There’s a lot of good ones out there, of all kinds.

  9. I know the feeling. It hits me usually around February. When it does, I read something that I’ve read and loved in the past to get some inspiration and motivation. After finishing that, I’m usually back to my old self and continue reading like a maniac :D

  10. IsabeLeeta /

    Oh I can totally relate!! When I’m feeling like that I usually watch a movie for instant gratification, something with lots of action. I like watching Dexter, True Blood, or The Office for a quick pick-me-up. But when I’m longing for something I can appreciate over a an extended period of time, I pick up a book. This year I’m excited that I’m finally going to start the Sevenwaters trilogy, even though it’s not new, it’s new to me. And if you’re looking for a book to get excited about, Orson Scott Card’s The Lost Gate should be something to look forward to. I certainly am eagerly waiting for my copy to arrive.

  11. Oh, genre switching is by far the best solution! It’s the only way I get out of random funks that occur. I read primarily YA, so it usually just means reading contemporaries or something instead of vampires/fae/banana slug mutants.

    Reading a book you know you’ll love is also a nice way to cure it. I’d reread Howl’s Moving Castle or Anna and the French Kiss for some light-hearted fair…or Gone with the Wind if I needed an epic romantic/historical slice of awesome. You kind of have to learn how to pinpoint where your funk is pointing you towards. It’s like a pregnancy craving. Sudden and completely out of the ordinary, but it still needs to be satisfied.

  12. Have to chime in here and agree with John, above – rereading something you love is a good way to get back into the saddle. I’d go for something light and amusing – maybe a Terry Pratchett novel, or one of Lois McMaster Bujold’s Miles Vorkosigan books.

  13. I had this once — I couldn’t read anything for perhaps three months. I ended up coming out of it reading Perdido Street Station and then High Fidelity. At the moment, I’m reading Omnivore’s Dilemma (fantastic) and I have a ton of fantasy to catch up on. And then there are the books I bought so long ago but have yet to read. And the rest of the Neal Stephenson and William Gibson books that I haven’t read. And all the other Discworld novels, and that Michael Crichton book…

  14. I usually switch to re-reading something. After a couple of weeks or so of ‘palate cleansing’ :) reading I am refreshed and ready to hit the TBR stacks again.

  15. I sometimes of days of duldrums though if I didn’t have to travel through snow and cold to my day job, I don’t think I would. This is actually the time of year I get the most writing done.

  16. I hit this slump for about a year. I didn’t completely stop reading of course, but I became a very picky reader. I swore off fantasy entirely. I then read The Name of the Wind and it obliterated the doldrums. I’m sort of reaching that funk now, and I may have to really switch it up. I just got in a couple amazing looking WW1 non fiction that I believe might do the trick. Being a reviewer, I have to be careful that my mood is not ruining the book. I’m always afraid that will happen. I finish a book and feel ho-hum and its not entirely the book’s fault.

  17. Another thing that might help: Ask someone to assign a book for you to read — something you never would have picked up on your own.

    Um… how about I’ll assign you one so you can get something reviewed???!!!??

  18. Randomly picked winner: Leah!
    Leah, if you live in the U.S., please contact me (Kat) and let me know which book you want from our stacks.

    Ruth, we hope you’re coming out of your ennui!


  1. Fantasy Literature's Fantasy Book and Audiobook Reviews - [...] ArnellSeveral of you recommended that I break outside my normal fantasy genres in response to my ennui. So I…

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