A Series of Unfortunate Rereads: The Irksome Introduction

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Allow me to preface this upcoming series of blog posts with a story. I started reading Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events in fifth grade, I believe. And by that I mean I first read The Wide Window, the third book in the series, because it was the only one available at the school library. (I went back and read the first two after that.)

I continued to read each book in the series religiously upon their release dates. I devoured them. I was obsessed. However, by the time the thirteenth and final book in the series, The End, was published in 2006, I was deep into my junior high school career and most likely “too good” for such children’s nonsense. Therefore, after years of consuming story after story about the Baudelaire orphans, I never. read. the. last. book.

For a few years now, I’ve found myself itching to find out how the series ends because, amazingly, I still haven’t been spoiled. However, every time I think about it, I remember that there are thirteen books, and even though they’re short, I can’t bring myself to invest the time and energy in starting from the beginning.

Then, shortly after the first season of the Netflix series came out a few months ago, I was faced with my own bookish miracle of sorts. I was struggling to focus at work one day and started searching through Overdrive for an audiobook to borrow from my library. And there it was: Lemony Snicket’s The Bad Beginning, the book that sparked my own bad beginning of a failed 13-book reading venture.

Now, I’ve never been an audiobook person. I’ve started quite a few of them, but I always find myself getting bored and distracted and eventually giving up and listening to music instead. But I thought I would give this a shot anyway. And once I realized that the first audiobook was only three hours long, I knew I’d found my niche.

I flew through the first book, and then was faced with another tragedy. While the third, fourth, and fifth books in the series were readily available for me to borrow, the second book had a queue of two other eager listeners. Dammit.

I tried waiting, but eventually gave up and started reading my own physical copy of The Reptile Room. And, in my own series of unfortunate events, I’m sure you can guess what happened next. I was a few chapters away from finished the book and BOOM, “your audiobook is ready to borrow.” Gee, thanks!

Anyway, I breezed through the next few audiobooks on my morning commute, before bed, and while accomplishing some of my less thinking-intensive tasks at work. At this point in time, I’m on the sixth book, The Ersatz Elevator. It’s been quite a ride, and I still haven’t hit any more waiting list roadblocks.

But that’s a story for another time. My next post will start the actual reviewing and discussion portion of the series with my thoughts on books one through five. I might also throw in some thoughts about the Netflix adaptation, but I’m trying to avoid that until I finish the books, because I think I might get spoiled.

Until then, I’ll be eagerly listening and trying not to go on angry rants about all the dumb adults in this series who don’t trust these three genius little kids.

Question: What are your thoughts on rereading your childhood favorites? Are you afraid going back to them will taint your existing thoughts?

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Let’s Talk About Reading Slumps.

tbrAs a book lover who obviously follows other book bloggers and vloggers on Twitter, one of the most common tweets I see is something along the lines of, “Help! I’m in a reading slump!” And of course, I completely understand. We’re the type of people who tend to devote every spare moment we have to reading. Hell, we even take time out of our lives to plan, film, and edit videos of ourselves alone in a room talking about books. So when we’re faced with those moments when no book can keep our interest, it’s can feel kind of horrible. In fact, I personally find myself getting legitimately anxious if I go a few days without reading; I feel like I’m letting down some almighty literary force driving my intense interest in books.

For these past couple weeks, I’ve been in the worst reading slump I can remember, and I’m sure there’s a lot that’s contributing to it. 1. I just can’t seem to find a book I want to read. 2. I’ve had a lot of school projects that demand a lot of focus. And 3. In about two weeks, I’m graduating from college.

So instead of getting in bed after a long day and reading until I fall asleep, I’ve been shutting off the lights and laying there for at least an hour, worrying about life and about my future. And the added pressure of knowing I’ll soon have to film an April wrap-up after only finishing two books doesn’t make me feel much better. In other words, it sucks.

But then the other night, amidst all this worrying, I started thinking about the dreaded “reading slump”, which is essentially a phrase coined by people who talk about books on the internet. Meanwhile, in the greater realm of society, taking a couple weeks off from reading probably isn’t a big deal. In fact, it’s something I’m guessing most people don’t even consciously think about. So why, then, does it stress me out so much when I don’t feel like reading?

At the end of the day, reading is a hobby. It’s something I love to do. With the exception of school-assigned reading, it’s not something that should ever stress me out; it’s something that should do exactly the opposite.

So while I understand why people use the term “reading slump” (and, obviously, I’m guilty of using it myself), I don’t like how it is most often followed by some sort of excuse, like “I’ve had a lot of work to do” or “I’ve been out socializing instead”. Both of those are perfectly acceptable reasons. In fact, any reason is perfectly acceptable. Even as BookTubers and book bloggers, it’s entirely our decision what we read and when we read it. We shouldn’t feel any sense of obligation to our viewers, our readers, or even ourselves, because if we start forcing ourselves to read, eventually it’ll stop being fun.

So from now on, I’m going to make an active effort to stop using the term “reading slump”. Instead, I’ll try to remind myself that there’s nothing wrong with going a couple days, a couple weeks, or maybe even a couple months without avidly reading. Reading is entirely personal and psychological, and no one, not even yourself, should make you feel guilty about your reading habits (or lack thereof).

Share your thoughts in the comments!

Ali