Paging Ms. Page

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January 20, 2023

Dear Ms. Page,

Reading has always been my favorite thing, but the last few years have destroyed my concentration. I miss losing myself in books. How do I get my reading mojo back? Have I lost it for good?

Searching for Mojo


Dear Searching for Mojo,

You are not alone in this predicament. Many a time over these past few years I’ve found myself in these same choppy waters wondering, “Will I ever read another book again?” Many a time have I found myself wandering listlessly through the aisles of the public library or local bookstore picking up and putting down book after book. Nothing captures my attention. Nothing seems interesting. Nothing gets read. 

After one such moment of reading despair I finally said enough. No more self-flagellation! Focus on pleasure, Ms. Page! Reading — no matter the book — had started to feel like work rather than a joyous opportunity to lose myself in another person's imagination. So I did something I had never really done before: I re-read a favorite book. What a revelation! It turns out that knowing the shape of the story and reading toward an ending of which I was already familiar reminded me of how comforting and pleasurable reading could be. If you aren’t interested in a re-read,r you could also turn to a new book in a favorite series. Falling into the rhythms of a writer you know and love always feels like a pleasant homecoming. Or maybe try a graphic novel? You can soak up the amazing artwork and the creative storytelling and they often read fairly quickly. 

Let’s talk location: Are you comfortable reading in public? Do you prefer reading in the privacy of your own home? Maybe a library is the place for you? Since your goal is to revive your reading habit, I’m going to suggest you aim for maximum comfort, both physically and psychologically, whatever that may be for you. My reading style can generously be described as chaotic: cushy sofa, soft pants, messy hair, various vessels with drinks both hot and cold at my disposal and, ideally, a long stretch of time. I also like to announce to the Page household: “I’m reading!” in case they don’t get the point. This works for me and I strongly suggest giving it a whirl, but really what it comes down to is finding a place you feel comfortable taking up space for a dedicated period of time.

Gentle reading goals are sometimes necessary to get the reading mojo back. Once you’ve chosen a book to read, maybe put on headphones, some lofi music, and a timer for one hour and get reading. Often I’ll decide to read the first 50 pages of a book. I’ve learned this is the perfect number of pages to help determine if I want to continue reading or move right along to something else. One more thing I do to motivate my reading (and this stays between us) is read the ending of a book. I could probably analyze this act for deeper meaning but I won’t. Suffice it to say, it has helped me finish many books that just…got…to…be too much but that I knew I wanted to complete. But please remember this: You do not have to finish every book you start! Sometimes a book just isn’t for you and that is ok. The book to get you back into reading is out there waiting for you, whispering your name, and soon you’ll hear it. 

Ms. Page

Recommendations for Searching for Mojo:

Still Life: A Chief Inspector Gamache Novel By Louise Penny Cover Image
ISBN: 9780312541538
Availability: In stock at Brooklyn or Jersey City -- click for more details
Published: Minotaur Books - September 30th, 2008

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Howl's Moving Castle (World of Howl #1) By Diana Wynne Jones Cover Image
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Published: Greenwillow Books - April 22nd, 2008

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Static: Season One By Vita Ayala, Nikolas Draper-Ivey (Illustrator) Cover Image
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Published: DC Comics - June 7th, 2022

Try a graphic novel.

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The Cook: A Novel By Maylis de Kerangal, Sam Taylor (Translated by) Cover Image
By Maylis de Kerangal, Sam Taylor (Translated by)
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Published: Picador - March 17th, 2020

How about a novella?