Apparently reader’s block is a common phenomenon, and so serious it’s sometimes practically terminal, killing all hope of ever reading a book again.  Stuart Jeffries has an article about this in the G2 section of today’s Guardian, which is well worth a read (if you’ve not already had enough of reading by trawling through this…) – or check out his blog post on how to beat reader’s block if you want to break free.

However, his article in the paper also says that a survey in 2007 found that a QUARTER of Britons said they hadn’t read a book in the past year.  And among those of us who do manage to open a book, the next problem for many is apparently just managing to get through it. 

The 10 novels most frequently abandoned by British readers apparently are:

  1. Vernon God Little by DBC Pierre (yup, got it opened it, closed it)
  2. Harry Potter & The Goblet of Fire by JK Rowling – as if I needed to tell you (I’ve never even bought or borrowed this one, don’t know where in the series it features)
  3. Ulysses by James Joyce (never owned it but once borrowed my sister’s flatmate’s copy for a while, then gave it back after reading a few pages)
  4. Captain Corelli’s Mandarin by Louis de Bernieres (I said the other day I’ve read this one, but since it’s on the abandoner’s list I’m doubting myself.  I think I’ve read it)
  5. Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell (started, got quite far into – but then I gave birth to our daughter and just lost the book comprehension plot for a while, and I’ve never got back to it or even summoned the desire to.  Should I?)
  6. The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo (read it!  Even loved it! Bizarre but wonderful)
  7. War & Peace by Leo Tolstoy (never even thought of reading it.  Dorothy Day has been referencing Tolstoy a lot in her book and she’s pretty cool so maybe one day…)
  8. The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie (not ever thought of reading it.  Freaked out by the word ‘satanic’)
  9. The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy (read it and loved it even though now, some years later I can’t remember much about it)
  10. Crime & Punishment by Dostoevsky (another ‘never attempted’.  Never bought or borrowed it to attempt it – is my life incomplete until I do? )

The article also has top tips for getting over reader’s block.  One of which was aim low and read things like Heat! magazine.  I have to say that would put me off reading for ever.  However, I’ve used magazines like that when I’ve been working with people with literacy problems…they are accessible, and have loads of pictures.  But even buying them makes me feel a bit cheap, because they require virtually no thought or engagement to ‘consume’.  I know that makes me sound like a terrible snob, sorry – but I just don’t really like them, and am genuinely not interested in knowing who has gotten fatter or thinner or had a spot on their chin when they went out to buy the paper.

My own top tip for overcoming reader’s block would be to choose an old favourite – a comfort read (Jane Eyre or Pride & Prejudice do it for me usually).  Then read something new but quite short.  And find a way of reading even for a few minutes a day so it becomes part of life.