Jo Talks Books: On University “Reading Funks”

Hi all! As always, I had fully intended on writing a discussion post for October well before now, but of course, Uni intervened and time just got away from me! That’s actually quite apt for today’s topic though, as I’m going to be talking about how going to University has affected my reading: or as I have affectionately called it in the title, the University Reading Funk (I know we more generally call them slumps, but Funk seemed like a better descriptor for what I’ve felt over the past few years, plus I thought it made a catchier title!).

I have to admit, and please don’t all hate me for saying this: I hadn’t experienced a reading slump before going to Uni. I mean I read less during my A-Levels due to time constraints, but I’d never experienced anything close to what I saw other bloggers describe as a reading slump until my first semester of Uni.

Reading has always been my escape, my happy place, the place I can go to relax, to feel better when I’m having a bad day, a place to go when things get difficult. When I started Uni, I, well I wouldn’t exactly say fell out of love with reading (clearly!), but I wasn’t finding the same joy in it than I used to. I had a hard time in my first semester of Uni, I wasn’t really making friends, I hated most of my flatmates, I was missing home and I wasn’t loving my course, basically, I just wasn’t having a great time. And whilst I would usually take solace in books, nearly everything I tried to read, I didn’t really enjoy (the exception being The Assassin’s Blade) and I only read three books the entirety of my first semester of Uni. This was my first experience of what I am now calling the “University Reading Funk” and although it was more caused by emotional reasons than an overload of work.

I’ve never experienced a reading funk to the same extent as I did in my first year of Uni, but it’s still something that happens from time to time-I mean it’s nothing new, reading slumps are a hot topic in the blogging community and a dreaded thing to all, but I don’t necessarily stop reading when they happen, even during my worst one when I started Uni, I was still reading, I just wasn’t getting the same enjoyment out of it than I had before. I started to read a lot more in the second semester of my first year of Uni, after I made friends and was starting to feel more settled but it seems like once the reading funks have started, they don’t stop!

For the most part, whenever I have a lot of work to do at Uni, my reading does tend to suffer for it, mostly because both parts of my degree are very heavy on reading anyway, so when I’m doing essays or research for articles, reading doesn’t feel like the same escape as it does normally, and so I tend to read less for enjoyment, which is a shame, but only natural when reading is a large part of your work (work related reading and enjoyment reading are very different!).

Fourth year has been quite stressful for me, work wise, and that’s kind of been reflected in my reading since I’ve come back to Uni. I’ve been reading a lot less and much slower than I did over the summer, which isn’t unusual, but I also haven’t been feeling as excited about reading as I did before I came back to Uni. When I have assignments due, I feel guilty about focusing on other things (and then ironically feel guilty about not doing the things that I enjoy because I’m so focused on Uni stuff. Uni induced guilt is a whole another thing that I’m not going to get into in this post!).

Luckily, I have become a lot better at anticipating my reading funks since becoming a blogger and I have become a lot better at balancing my workload since my first year of Uni. Whilst still not something I love,  reading funks are not something that strikes fear into my heart anymore because now I know how to deal with them. Whenever I feel myself sliding into a funk, I try to find something that will get myself excited about reading again. Whether that’s a new release that I’m excited for, a favourite author’s book that I haven’t read yet, or an old favourite, I want to find something that will make me forget about all the stress of Uni and just revel in and enjoy the story.

Of course, this doesn’t always work and the only surefire way that always lifts my University induced reading funks is the arrival of the holiday breaks, especially summer, where I have weeks of unlimited time to just read as much as I want to. But I have found, that even if I am completely snowed under with work, if Uni is feeling like more of a chore than something I’ve willingly entered into, a really great book can still completely turn my day around.

And even despite my work and emotional induced reading funks, I have still read some amazing books since I’ve been at Uni, in my four years of Uni, I’ve discovered the amazing talents of some of my favourite authors: VE Schwab, Samantha Shannon & Leigh Bardugo, among others. Sure, balancing reading with Uni work has been difficult and there are times when I slip into funks, but no amount of work is ever going to change how much I love books. Even when I have times when the last thing I want to do is read, it’s okay, because books will be there waiting for me, when I feel like reading again.

Do any of you have anything specific that makes you feel less like reading? Anyone else suffered from any really bad reading funks (no need to disclose details if you don’t want to)? What do you do to get over them? Let me know in the comments!

I’m not going to have another October discussion post for you, since October ends in two days (HOW?), but I will have another, topic as yet undecided Jo Talks post in November-I think I will be sticking to doing just one post a month in November and December, Uni is just so busy at the moment! In the meantime, I will have another Top Ten Tuesday for you guys tomorrow!



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