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Reading Time and Place

flagIf the automatic posting feature worked correctly, this post is going up at about 12:00 on Monday, May 26 — Memorial Day — while I am happily sitting at my family’s cabin in Wisconsin enjoying some beautiful summer weather. If not, this will just get posted on Tuesday!

In trying to figure out a summer reading list, I’ve been thinking quite a bit about how the time and place we decide to read a book can impact the way we feel about it. I’ve been reading American Gods by Neil Gaiman, but I’m having a really hard time getting through it. I love the book, and each time I sit down to read I get engaged, but I also keep getting distracted. I think the reason is because there is a lot of commentary and thought in the book, and my brain is just too checked out to be doing the work necessary to appreciate the book for what it is.

nowhere elseI can think of another great example of a book I should have enjoyed, but circumstances made me just loathe. It was March of my sophomore year of college, and I was reading Here and Nowhere Else: Late Seasons of a Farm and Its Family by Jane Brox for a class called Creative Nonfiction. Brox recounts a period of her life where she returned to her family farm to help care for her troubled brother and aging parents. The book is beautiful — Brox’s prose is simple, fluid, and the story should have been engaging — yet my classmates and I couldn’t get passed the dark tone of the story. At the end of winter on the prairie, we wanted something uplifting and positive to help us get pulled out of our funk and into spring. I think if I went back to the book today I’d really appreciate it, but the wrong place and wrong time just made me despise it.

Do any of you have experiences with books you hated at first, and then really enjoyed, or really enjoyed and then hated on a second read? Any of those related to the time and place you were reading?

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