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Overwhelmed By Possibility And That Literary ‘Buzz’

A photograph of Marlon James' A Brief History Of Seven Killings and Hanya Yanagihara's A Little Life

Do you ever get so excited by all the possibilities of reading – the numbers, the different countries and translations, the stories and the eras – that you don’t get any reading done at all? I do. It’s happened as I wrote this.

It’s in a similar vein but not the same as being overwhelmed by choice. It’s more about literary pleasure, that buzz you get from reading, than any pile. In this case, I was about to read Bird In A Cage. Browsing through the first pages, I noted it was published in 1961 – another older book! I noted it was a French book – translation!

And it wasn’t that I couldn’t start the book – I could – but some sort of procrastination set upon me. I felt daunted.

This… thing mostly happens when I’ve been leading up to reading the book in question, when I’ve been working my way through the pile and have had the title move towards me until it’s next. In this particular case it was a short book, so I recognise also the possibility I was daunted because I’d only just finished reading and reviewing a book that needed a lot of brain power and with this next, short, book, that time would arrive again swiftly.

I sometimes think that the feeling of excitement and possibility that comes before you start a book, and the accompanying feeling of fulfilment at another book finished that you can now talk about – that in between time books – is much better than the sort of limbo you’re in when in the midst of reading a book. I love the process of reading immensely but there’s a sort of pausing of time when you’re reading, time that starts up again when you’ve finished. Talking about books is a big thing to me, as I know it is to you, and only so much of that can happen during the reading – anything that can be said is always going to be subject to change.

Do you ever feel overwhelmed?



August 12, 2016, 10:33 am

I was pretty overwhelmed last month and the beginning of this month – I had been enjoying my reading so much my books to review were mounting and I couldn’t seem to catch up!


August 13, 2016, 9:09 pm

I often feel like I need to read things I can review on my blog, or books that move me enough to want to write about them. Which leaves me just staring at my to-be-reads.


August 18, 2016, 8:08 pm

I am frequently overwhelmed and just when I think I have all my reading under control it goes haywire again. Admittedly this is all self-imposed and there is never really any reason to feel overwhelmed except I get most of my books from the library so there is always a due date to be aware of!


August 23, 2016, 1:43 pm

Jessica: That is an issue when you’re having a great time reading, isn’t it? Glad you’ve got it back under control :)

Alice: Yes, this! I admit to, most times, when choosing books, wondering if it looks like something I’ll be able to write long form about. And also if it’ll interest people – though in this case I think it’s more about your own interest, making your review interesting to read.

Stefanie: True, and I think it’s easy to think it’s all so crazy and not realise for a while that it is self-imposed. Even if it’s review copies it’s technically (completely?) self-imposed. If it’s due to a due date I can see that being very overwhelming.



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