Like patients with particularly trustworthy doctors, customers at the Little Bookshop often come to us with embarrassing questions, one we're often asked in the shop is "Can you help me find a book that will get me back into reading."
Diagnosis: Reader's Block
Reader's Block can come about for a variety of reasons:
Sometimes you feel like you haven't the time to read, and building up the momentum to really get involved with a book gets harder and harder.
Coming to the end of a particularly brilliant book or series of books can leave you feeling like nothing you read next can match up.
And occasionally there's one particular book that bogs you down - which is what happened to me recently - halfway through the book, I stalled and couldn't get back up to my usual pace. Worse, I found that picking up any other book made me feel guilty,so obliged did I feel to finish this book.
The cure for Reader's Block must be administered as quickly as possible to avoid it becoming a habit. The cure is three-pronged and can be summarised as the Three Fs.
Funny - PG Wodehouse is the master of the funny book, but I also love Jonathan Coe and Neil Gaiman for their incredible ability to make me laugh aloud.
Fast-paced - Any book that keeps you turning the pages compulsively is a great cure, this can be a crime series - I love Philip Kerr's Bernie Gunther books for this - but really anything that drives you to know what's going to happen next, for example David Nicholls' One Day.
Familiar - There's nothing like going back to an old favourite book when you're under the weather, and it can be a great way to get yourself back into the reading habit. Any Agatha Christie (preferably one where you've forgotten whodunnit), a favourite children's book (Little Women is always my first choice here, or another classic (Reader's Block is a great excuse to re-read Jane Austen).
My own recent bout of Reader's Block was ultimately cured with a combination of the three Fs. Amy Bloom's Where the God of Love Hangs Out, a collection of interlinking short stories, walks an elegant line between humour and poignance. I found James Frey's Final Testament of the Holy Bible absolutely gripping, and I had to know how it ended. And in memory of Diana Wynne Jones, I re-read my well-worn copy of The Lives of Christopher Chant.