In the January 2019 newsletter, I was in the middle of a reading “funk”. I hadn’t read a book in almost two months. I asked the readers their feedback on how to get out of said funk. Here were their responses:

Vicki: How do I get out of a reading funk? I’m in one right now. I read part of a book, then put it down. I’ll come back to it an hour or two or a day or two later. It’s frustrating, but I haven’t figured out how to get past it. I’m just not concentrating very well. Sometimes a fast paced, compelling book will pull me out, like one of J.A. Jance’s Ali Reynolds mysteries, but with my next book, no matter how good, I go back to my funk. I’m hoping when some of the drama in my personal life resolves it will be resolved.

While I watch little TV, I do play mind games on my tablet. Often when I put my book down in the middle of a good section, it’s to play something mindless.

How do I balance? My family is grown and moved out, so it’s easier for me to set my schedule as I want. I tell people with children at home that one day they will have uninterrupted reading time again.

Ayesha: I was pleased to see The Rowland Sinclair Mysteries got a mention this month ☺ Hopefully some people have decided to check them out, and are now as addiction as I am! Ha
Re this month’s questions:
1. If I can’t get “into” anything to read I go back to old favourites. Usually short stories, particularly original Robert E Howard Conan stories (not too long and light, entertaining reading where you don’t have to concentrate…)
2. I don’t watch an especially huge amount of TV, but when you find a series on Netflix you’re addicted to… I usually watch those when my husband’s free to watch it with me, and read when he’s busy (or watching sports!) & before falling asleep
Hope you get your love of reading back… Best wishes

Chris: Hi Graeme. I never stop reading altogether but I definitely will get tired of one genre or writer and find myself reaching for a new series to read. I usually check out sites, such as yours, for ideas and also ask people I know if there’s a writer that they enjoy. My book club is another great place to find out about new books. As far as pursuing other forms of entertainment, I might binge watch a popular television series or check out the movie everyone is talking about but I don’t play games–there’s not enough time to read as it is! And, again, I always have several books that I’m reading at the same time.

Sandra: Sometimes it’s my eyes that weary of reading and that’s when audio books come to my rescue. When my eyes aren’t bothering me and I’m in a “reading funk” I return to old favorites…the three Jeanine MacMillan autobiographies (A Small Country Living, Wind in the Ash Tree, A Small Country Living Goes On), Patrick Taylor’s A Irish Country Doctor (15 books I believe) and others of similar genre. I also enjoy memoirs by farmers.

I don’t watch a lot of television, in fact I don’t have television only Acorn TV. Not having television confuses people no end; most can’t fathom not being glued to the idiot box nightly. My 90+ year old Dad asks, “What do you do for news?” and my reply is, “I rely on you, Dad.” lol

Balancing reading with the rest of life is relatively easy for me…I’m north of Medicare and still own and operate a small farm. As I told someone earlier today, I’ve chosen to focus on the 4 F’s…faith, farm, family, friends. If it doesn’t fit in one of those categories, it doesn’t fit into my life and I don’t apologize. Too many people are scattered and fractured because they haven’t learned “NO” is a perfectly good and acceptable word to use…frequently. If I’m not taking care of me and mine first, I’m doing no one any good, least of all me and mine.

Some people need to be loved, or liked, from a distance.

Elizabeth: I get in funks if I read several books I’m not really into. I give myself permission to stop reading a book and then I usually get back into the groove by reading something I’ve been looking forward to.
I usually save my reading for just before bed unless I’m on vacation.

Kay: I don’t believe I have ever experienced a “funk” with reading. I devour books

I have a 30 minute lunch break that I spend alone with a book. I also end my day with a book. It is a rare night that I go to bed without reading myself to sleep – or at least close to it. I have been known to “one more chapter” myself out of a night’s sleep. This is a habit that has always driven my husband crazy – especially if I read a truly humorous book that makes me laugh out loud. Fortunately he is a patient man. Speaking of whom, he loves to watch sports on TV, which I don’t. So when his baseball/football/hockey/basketball games are on, I read. When there is something good happening they make enough noise to get my attention and show multiple reruns of the score/goal/touchdown, etc., that I see all the highlights and can comment where necessary so he feels like I am watching (enjoying?!) the game with him. Win/win

Terrie: I can’t believe it. My very first order of books newsletter and I find another person that reads the Mitch Rapp series when a reading funk occurs. I thought I was the only one that did that. And if it’s a really bad funk, I will read the entire Travis McGee series. I am delighted to have found this newsletter. Thanks so much.

Jan: Hi Graeme,
Figured you were having a wonderful time with family and that’s why the newsletter was late. Family is precious and comes first! (And I’m old enough to know and say that. ) My husband and I just spent a way too short 2 weeks in Ireland and England with dear friends. But, now we have an “excuse ” to go back. Like we need one!

So, long afternoons with the wind chill -20’s and -30’s. Too cold for a walk, lake finally froze over but not enough for the snowmobile, I need a book! Ugh. I read all these. Wasn’t crazy about some authors. Maybe a jigsaw puzzle? Bake cookies? Call the kids ?(oh no, it’s mom again and she’s bored). I’ve done all the laundry, vacuumed the carpet down to the nubs. I’m not into video games and such. Well, I guess it’s a book. But, nothing interests me. To the Internet! Look up some of my favorite authors and see who is compatible. Lo and behold…a new one! Sounds good. Take a change? What the heck. One click on Amazon, a nice glass of Reisling and a new (and, hopefully wonderful) adventure starts. And it did. I got lucky I found Jana De Leon and her “Miss Fortune” series. A little murder, some secret spys,murder, action, romance , murder,laughs…did I mention murder? I flew through the first 3 in the series and have now downloaded 4 more.

That’s how I try to get into my reading groove again. Find an author along the same lines of ones I enjoy. Except for the very rare times I choose differently, my philosophy is, “Nothing beats a good murder.”

That’s how I get out of my “funk”. Can’t wait to see how other folks do!
Enjoy the rest of the winter. May your family be well and safe!

Trang: best book read in 2018 (not necessarily published in 2018)
Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan
unique, beautifully written. Masterfully narrated audiobook.

Author/series discovered in 2018
Most & Dale mystery series by Sheila Turnage
Laughed so hard that beverage almost snorted up my nose!!

Both are written for the middle-school crowd. This is how I avoid reading funks – alternate between titles written for adults (esp heavy duty European police inspector/murder noirs) and titles written for middle-schoolers (always a hoot and a half).

Pam: Hi, Graeme, love your newsletter as much as ever. I knew it was late this time, but I figured you were busy with the trip and then books and family life have to take a certain amount of time.

I am kind of in a funk as well right now. I am still reading, but (partly thanks to you) I have too many books to read and so have been spending some time watching TV and playing games on my Kindle. I stop and read, but am kind of overwhelmed by the volume of books I am reading. It seems strange to many people, but I read several books “at once”. I get to a place in a book and have to finish it, but sometimes I read a chapter or two, then go on to the next. Part of that is because I not only spend way too much on my Kindle, but I also frequent the library in my little town, the one in a much larger town twenty-five miles away, and then there’s the e-library and Hoopla as well. I read and watch TV at the same time as well.

I love Peter Ash and discovered him through your newsletter. I’m reading for number four which is also sitting on the Kindle waiting.

Sadly, when I go to the library I have to check out the new releases and there are almost always one or two books calling my name. This time I found Bruce Campbell’s (B-movie actor Evil Dead, Xena Warrior Princess, Hercules, Jack of all Trades, and several other TV shows and movies) autobiography (second chapter) Hail to the Chin: Further Confessions of a B Movie Actor. I’ve enjoyed his “acting” and decided to get the book. Since it was the second in his autobiography I had to get his first one through interlibrary loan, If Chins Could Kill, which has to be returned this week. That takes up extra time. It’s good, but then there are Peter Ash, Pendergast, the Supernatural series, John Conroe’s Demon Accords, In the Hurricane’s Eye (revolutionary war non-fiction), the Rich Asian series, Melinda Leigh’s Morgan Dane series, and too many more to mention. Yes, I am reading a book in each of the above mentioned series. You can see I shouldn’t really get in a funk and not read as there are so many books that need my attention, but then there are great series on TV, streaming etc. I suppose great is a relative term since it depends on the viewer, but still, they can take a prodigious amount of time. Then of course, there are other things to do beside reading, TV, and games – Bible study, newspapers, magazines, movies to attend, bridge to play, driving between my town and surrounding towns where I have to shop, doctor, go out to eat, etc. are time consuming. (At least in the car, I can listen to my Kindles which passes the time, unless someone else is with me).)

I do like my Kindles better than a paperback and sometimes hardbacks. I’m a retired teacher-librarian and of that certain age when my glasses don’t cooperate as well as they used to. I persevere and will get them read.

Anyway, please keep up the good work. I recommend your newsletter and your, which I use all the time (I must have my backstories, of course,) to almost everyone with whom I engage in book discussions. I just read a mailbag comment on Paul Doiron’s Mike Bowditch series and ordered the first one in the series.

Veronica: Hi. I get out of a reading funk by picking up childhood favorite like the Narnia series, Little Women, etc. I also look for a YA book or fun looking juvenile fiction that I can enjoy but read fairly quickly. The last time I was in a slump I picked up Greenglass House by Kate Milford. So much fun, and then I was back to my regular reading.

Regina: Yes I do get in reading funks and it’s usually because of TV. The way you can use streaming services these days to binge watch TV series new and old can be a real distraction from reading. If I find a new series I really like it’s just like reading a book in the way you want to push through to the end. And like you, I don’t have time to do both.

In order to get out of my funk I usually just wait it out until I find a new title that really intrigues me. Then I’m good for several months.

Ray: Hi Graeme,
Happy to receive the January Newsletter. My wife said to me, I wonder why we didn’t get a newsletter from Graeme?
Maybe he isn’t doing it anymore starting with the new year? I contemplated about that with some reservations,
and SUDDENLY I had an epiphony!! Graeme IS IN A FUNK!! I could picture you clearly, sitting there in Scotland with the rain pouring outside, don’t feel like reading, nothing worth watching on tv– FUNK-FUNK-FUNK!!! I’ve been there many times myself, and I know how to get out of it!! You were on the right track by reading favorite authors over again. I have two of Alex
Berenson’s left to go. BUT, before you do that-(Trust me on this,it works every time)- while playing Frederick Chopin’s “Raindrop Prelude” you drink a triple shot of Johnny Blue or Black, say three Hail Mary’s, take a deep breath,scream as loudly as you can, and then yell, “Suck It Up And Gitter’ Done”!! It works every time!!
Chopin was in a funk on the Isle of Majorca. He was sitting there cold and miserable with never ending rain pouring
outside, so he did all those things I told you to do and then sat down at the piano and composed the “Raindrop Prelude”.
He remained funk-less until his landlord heard he had tuberculosis, and kicked him and George out of the house. Tsk-Tsk.
So there you have it, Graeme. Now you know how to get rid of a funk. You have to keep in mind one thing, though,
the deeper the funk, the more J.W. Blue or Black you have to drink. All else stays the same.
Hope your 2019 is a wonderful year, Graeme!!

Martha: Surprised to see your question about how to get out of a period of funk in regards to reading. I have been going through this for the past month. I have found in the past that the funk period starts when I have read too much of a certain genre or a specific book. This time it was a specific book. A history of the United States from 1815 – 1835. Knew I shouldn’t have started it during the holidays. Too long a book and too weighty a subject for the holidays. But I persevered and ended up in a funk.

How to get out of the funk is the hard thing. As when you are in a funk period – none of the books that you have saved up to read look interesting. Going back and re-reading something you know you have enjoyed or re-reading a favorite author, sometimes will work. If the funk has been caused by reading too much of a genre, I try to find something in a totally new genre – such as going from English police procedurals to historical romance. Thought process here is that the change in genre, if radical enough, will jolt you out of the funk.

If neither of these two solutions work, I fall back on the most radical – I just pick a book out of my backlog of “to be read” books. Don’t look at the title or author, just start reading. And keep repeating this until cured.

As to your other question as to balancing reading and other forms of entertainment, I never really gave it much thought. I go more with what do I want to do today rather than I haven’t done such-n-such so should do that. This seems to work for me.

Enjoy reading your newsletters. Always find some new author or book to check out.

Linda: I so enjoyed reading the mailbag this past month, seeing what others read and enjoyed. I am usually just a mystery/thriller reader, but will occasionaly try another genre. So, I wrote down several suggestions. Thank you to all the readers. Now as far as bieng in a reading funk, must confess I have never been there. Sometimes I do not like a book I am reading and usually if I read 50 pages and it does not grip me, I am out of it. Now , I did muddle through the Outlander series just because I wanted to see them to the end. I loved some of them, then hated some of the overly descriptive parts of some. Especially the war stories, so I just skipped those parts. I have been very fortunate in my picks this last year, can’t say I really disliked any of them with the exception of the Outlander series (and only part of them). I just finished one of the best books I have ever read: “I Let You Go” by Claire Mackintosh. It is another one of those lady in peril books that I love. I have now ordered her other 2 books to see if they are as good. It is an older book, so I totally missed it when it came out. I have just started the Rachel Caine “Stillhouse Lake” series. Started slow, getting better. May or may not continue with this series, depends on how this one ends. I am not fully invested in the main characters yet. Waiting for the lastes Gray Man book to come out, love that series. Great writer. I also see there is a new medical thriller “Pandemic” that of course I have to read. Love the medical thrillers, even if they have produced a hospital anxiety syndrome in me. Then how do I balance my time. I am fortunate to be retired, so I have all the time I want for anything. I split my entertainment with TV, movies, one video game, occasionally online Solitaire and reading. Probably TV wins, but close second is reading. And if there is a really good book on any given day, reading wins that day. I love Netflix and a lot of their series. Thank you once again for a great newsletter. Hope you are having a good new year. Enjoy.

Tom: Hello again. It’s so easy to become overwhelmed with media choices. I seldom listen to the radio anymore. If I want some music, I will play my own commercial free cds or USB stick or maybe visit You-Tube. I can’t stand today’s music and am sick of most of the older stuff too. I make my own CD’s and have no problem discovering music from 20-40 years ago that I never heard before and like. I don’t watch regular TV, except for a few sports games. I have a collection of movies that I like to watch instead. Again, no ads. I don’t even own a smart phone, so I am not glued to that all day. When it comes to books, I will usually switch the genre I am reading to something else. Like from westerns to sci-fi ,or to action thrillers or something more romantically inclined. Or, instead of fiction, I will read some non-fiction. But information overload is a big problem. Sometimes just sitting back and not doing much reading helps to recharge your desires. I think it’s either in the blood or not, reading a lot, that is. The competition for your attention can be outright overpowering if you don’t set limits.

Thanks for a wonderful and useful site. At least you are not trying to sell me something like so many garbage sites that find a way to your email inbox. You offer down to earth and quality content I can trust.

Stephanie: Hi Graeme, This won’t help you much as I have never experienced a ‘funk’ in reading, and can’t even imagine having one. I began reading at a very young age and have always had a book “in my face”. In fact, when I’m without a book, I feel a part of me is missing. I take my current book wherever I go – appointments, etc. I always look for new authors, or new books from favorite authors (like Nicholas Petrie and Michael Connolly to name just two), ahead of time so that when I finish one book, my next one is ready. Being a library patron helps me in this regard. (By the way, I already have the Petrie book on hold at the library and can’t wait).

As for balancing – I always read in the mid to late afternoon before time for dinner prep, and again just before bed. I watch TV during the evening hours. This balance is much easier now that I’m retired and my kids and grand-kids are out of state so I can adhere to the ‘schedule’ I’ve established.

I imagine having a young family makes this kind of schedule a little more difficult.

Janet: #1 Yes, I occasionally do get into a funk. I do the same think you do. I go back and reread a series I know will keep me enthralled. The Sisterhood Series by Fern Michaels, Sherlock and Savich by Catherine Coulter, or Stone Barrington by Stuart Woods. There are others but those are my favorites, and all have a long list of books so I don’t always start at the beginning.

#2 I. Do. Not. Watch. TV. I gave it up about 16 or 17 years ago. I play Spider Solitaire in the morning for a couple hours, I am up to expert with thousands of games played and win 53% of the time. As my win rate goes higher, I try to move up a level in difficulty. That usually lasts a few days until I get discouraged and drop back down to the expert level. I sew most days for a few hours, always stopping at 4 PM so I can spend time catching up on email before dinner. Then it’s reading time until bed. I am in a rut and I love it. Right now, I am reading Unbound by Stuart Woods, I have the next book Shoot First in the stack too. It might be next, or it might be the new Alex Cross book. I will decide based on my mood when I get to that point.
Jane: As I read your newsletter this month, I was thinking how much you sound like me when it comes to TV versus reading. Reading comes first for me, always, but like you I will suddenly go into a reading funk and start binge-watching television series. The TV will sometimes stay off for weeks, then a series I love will add a season, or someone will recommend a new series and off I go into TV land. This also happens when I want something wonderful to read and just can’t find the right book. Favorite series in the last year or so: Vera, Shetland, Brokenwood Mysteries, and very recently Schtisel. As you can see if you are familiar with any of these, I like an international palette of watching.

Last month I wrote and mentioned that I manage a small library. I did not mention how often I use OrderofBooks to check series sequencing or to discover new series for patrons who are looking for something else (using your “If you like, you’ll love” section at the end each listing). And, yes, you introduced me to the Peter Ash series. I’m waiting (impatiently) for the latest entry to arrive at the library. That and the latest Ann Cleeves in the Vera series.

Debra: To question number one… yes, I get on a reading binge of a particular author or two but then I get tired of reading and (question number two) I go to playing games on my phone, sewing, crafts, or just vegging with my dogs. Of course there are organizations that I belong to that keep me busy. So I guess I have answered both questions together! I still have not gotten back to reading but this could change, as time goes by.

Christine: I don’t get into “funks.” I’ve loved to read since before I ever set foot in a school, and I expect I always will.

I don’t watch “TV TV,” that is, broadcast, cable, or streaming. I watch DVD’s. That way I can tailor my viewing to the time available. But ordinarily, I can get through at least a quarter of a book in an evening and still have time for a movie or a couple of episodes.

AJ: I get in a funk, like you, when I’m trying new authors and reading a few clunkers – I get out as soon as my usual authors come back out with new ones. This seems to happen the most in December of each year. Already half-way through the new Peter Ash and it is wonderful!!

The only thing I watch on TV is sports, and I mostly listen to the games, so can read sometimes through a game – but if the book gets really good, I’ll mute the TV and just glance up once in a while.
Thanks again for the Nick Petrie recommendation – love this series.

rvidomlanski: It has happened to me that i got a little burnt out from reading. So i took a break and did other things like watch TV. Then i went around and asked friend for excellent book selections and i got upon an interesting book and began reading again.I hope it works for you

Teresa: I don’t really know how to get out of the funk. I have to wait for something to capture my interest and, after I read that book, I back in the groove. Unfortunately, I’ve been in that funk for a month. Just waiting for the right kind of book to come along and make my life turn around :). In the meantime, I’ve been watching TV, crocheting Christmas gifts and sewing.

Joanna: I balance reading with crocheting and watching baseball and old movies…when I read it’s a total commitment (I had to teach my husband, who thinks a person reading just doesn’t have anything better to do, which is true when you think about it!), but when I watch baseball or an old movie (my favorites) I can also crochet and converse (press pause!)…I seem to crochet for everyone I know…my grandmother, who taught me to crochet, never just sat…she always had some handwork to do, and years ago I decided that watching baseball for three hours a day/night was insupportable, so I make afghans, which keeps me from feeling useless (as an invalid is likely to do), and seems to surprise people that I’d spend time doing something pretty/useful for them!

My favorite reading these days (age 73) is in series fiction…I mourned when Sue Grafton died without publishing “Z”, and I tend to re-read series after a few years…in my condition my memory allows me to re-read even Agatha Christie a second or third time…that pleases my husband, because I don’t always need a new book (unless it’s the latest in a favorite series!)…have re-read the entire Morland series twice…and found Hilton-Jacobs’ other writings as engaging…

Thank you for your web-site and your newsletter…

Earl: I find myself having a hard time reading anything this month…I think I’ve started 5 books and haven’t finished one…Tried to read PERSUADER by Lee Child because you mentioned it was your favorite Reacher and just couldn’t get into it…Did read PAST TENSE and liked it–maybe Child is back…I am re-reading a W. E. Griffen presidential Agent book and am over half way through it…This might be enough to get me started again…

Keep up the good work; it is really appreciated…

Norma: I read some every day and now finishing “Where the Crawdads Sing” by Delia Owens. Great story. I’m also a needlepointer who Stitches while watching tv. Retired so have time for both. I have many favorites and always look forward to Daniel Silva and Michael Connelly.

Joan: It was interesting to hear that you had gone off reading for a while. The same thing happened to me. Me, who is never without some book on the go, had this strange spell of putting the books aside, and getting hooked on some international thrillers on Netflix. However, one of my favourite authors, Peter May, has had a book he wrote forty years ago, re released. It’s called The Man with no Face, and I was hooked on page one. Surprisingly it is still quite topical, especially with all our chaos over Brexit! So now I’ve gone back to my reading. Try this book if you get the chance.

Dawn: If I get in a reading funk (rarely) I usually rearrange them somehow. Just handling them and reorganizing gets me going again. I’ll post one I like on Facebook and others begin to suggest what they have enjoyed. Of course there is always going to the bookstore to pull me back to reading!

Donald When I was in a funk on reading, I reread the Recluse series by L.E. Modesitt. The difference was that I followed the series in chronological order instead of publication order. That has made me a fan of your site that I can check my favorite authors series.
Since I have retired, I find that I have sufficient time to enjoy reading everyday. TV is boring but books are always available to capture my imagination. As long as they keep writing novels, I will never be bored.

Janice: Graeme, so glad to get the January newsletter. I was becoming a little anxious over its absence. Its great
appeal to me is that it is like a giant conversation with fellow readers who just like to talk about books, characters, authors, etc. in an intelligent, relaxing way.

I became an aural reader during my working years as I traveled a large catchment area to see clients. I continue listening to books which affords me the opportunity to do other enjoyable things as I listen. Sometimes, I just quit everything and languish on the computer, since I’m not a television viewer. I seem to get back in my routine when my favorite authors bring out their new books. Then I read everything I can get my hands on for long periods.

Even during the down times, I keep up with who is writing what. Your newsletter has become my favorite reference for new books, and information about authors and characters. Thank you for your great web site and newsletter.

Mary Ellen: You asked what author I found new last year
On vacation i was introduced to Author greg iles He writes a lot about Mississippi.
his new book Cemetery Road will be out this year.
i must say his detailed writing keeps you riveted to the page. just when you think things may be solved or hope the main characters don’t get killed, a new twist with added suspense pops in and you can’t wait to see how it plays out. i like reading things in their proper sequence so put the old books on my kindle.
Consequently I have saved him for vacation and read 4 more in short order!!
i know he has been around for a while but a friend of mine loaned me one book and I was hooked. I don’t remember if you mentioned him
i like your newsletters but as we get older and become caregivers things get set aside and save them to check later
so thanks for all your efforts
they are appreciated
at one time i was in 3 book clubs and none of them read the same author and they opened me to authors i may not have looked at
That is why I love hearing about books.

Order of Books » Newsletter » Reader Mailbag: Getting Out Of A Reading “Funk”

2 Responses to “Reader Mailbag: Getting Out Of A Reading “Funk””

  1. bob wolff: 5 years ago

    James Patterson and Candice Fox are listed as the author of Liar Liar.
    In my opinion this book is actually named properly. Patterson is liar; It is obvious to me that he had little or no contribution this book. It was written by an Australian author and first published there last year. Yet, his name is twice as big on the cover in gold and you can barely read her name.
    Maybe he read it before it was released but does this really make him a co-author. LETS GET REAL This is just a money grab to push sales


  2. Maria Harris: 5 years ago

    this is my first comment although i devotedly love your newsletter….you have opened doors for me for new writers and thank you for that…
    …about authors everyone likes but i just can’t stand…first up..james patterson although i did enjoy the initial alex cross books, then nora roberts, lisa gardner, stephen king, but all for different reasons. basically some of the authors are the only ones featured at local stores, really pushed by publishers…rather than list them all i’ll say that maybe it’s about formula … always the formula stays the same but not in a good way….about boring concepts that have been overdone….poor writing although king can be an excellent writer…..knowing a writer’s formula can be a good thing if it is well written, it is reassuring, comfortable…maybe that’s why some writers are so popular…
    and now i see this is a topic that requires much explanation…it is just so
    subjective….sometimes reading is like eating chocolate, and sometimes it’s like eating gruel….and it’s always because of how the book is written…


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