The good, the bad and the ugly of reading slumps

The good (great even)

I loved Adrian Hyland’s Gunshot Road and feel very privileged to have read it. I have already told you all to read it but it warrants repeating.

Read it. Now. All of you. Yes even you over there in the corner.

The Bad

Since finishing it a week ago I have started 4 books and finished none of them; leaving them all lying about the place in various states of non-completion. I am quite sure that none of them are especially bad and one or two of them might even be excellent. But special books like Gunshot Road are as rare as honest politicians and it seems the price one pays for discovering them is a few days (weeks?) of dull reading where things pale in comparison.

Don’t get me wrong though: the price is worth paying.

The Ugly

My reading slump is not being helped by having suffered the mental trauma of watching our country’s former prime minister’s sex life writ large on our television screens on the weekend. In both a dramatised tele-movie and the interview with the man himself which followed it, Bob Hawke’s contribution to Australian public life was boiled down to the fact that he liked to bonk someone other than his wife. A lot. Regardless of who was in the bathroom next door trying desperately not to listen. Although a Rhodes Scholar in his younger days Hawke apparently never got as far as D in the dictionary because neither discretion nor decorum are concepts he is familiar with. Oh how I long for the days when the only acceptable topics of conversation for Australian men in public were the prospects for one’s footy team and the likelihood of rain.

Bob & Blanche (you can't see her botox but trust me it's there)

How can a girl concentrate on reading when images of these two at it like rabbits are running through her brain?

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

So today I undertook the kind of therapy that any self-respecting book addict would endure to get herself out of a reading slump. I toddled off to an actual bookstore (something I do only once or twice a year since discovering online shopping) and bought a book I know absolutely nothing about.

It’s fairly large and heavy. If reading it doesn’t work at least I can beat myself in the head to stop the continuous loop of images of Bob and Blanche bonking.

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15 Responses to The good, the bad and the ugly of reading slumps

  1. kathy durkin says:

    You need a good book and chocolate, always my panacea. What about Tana French’s new one? Or something witty? And for goodness’ sake, turn off the tv and hide the newspapers, maybe get some old b/w mystery dvd’s from the library or local video shop.
    Distractions are needed.


  2. Tim says:

    Ah yes, I recognise that feeling. I usually switch to short stories. Apart from anything else, if you don’t like it you haven’t invested that much time 🙂


  3. Bernadette – Brilliant post! I’ve had reading slumps like that, too. It’s an unfortunate consequence of coming off the high of a truly unforgettable book. And I can’t imagine that salacious TV is helping much. I think you did the right thing to go to an actual bookshop. Just avoid the “tell-all” book section… ; ).


  4. kathy durkin says:

    Yes, no tell-alls, no memoirs, no biographies, no reality shows or books. Just fiction and fun–escapism.


  5. Thanks all and don’t worry I’m staying well clear of any kind of reality – I went for a debut work of historical fiction set in 1930’s Australia but I hadn’t thought of short stories Tim – an excellent suggestion and I do have a couple of collections sitting on the TBR shelves.

    Tonight I opted for housework (ugh but better than bonking politicians) and am now about to watch an episode of a Danish TV show that I have on DVD then take to my bed.


  6. Barbara says:

    What is it about men and power that seems naturally to lead to epic and embarrassing bonkathons? Maybe once they’ve made it into the smoke-filled rooms they start thinking that cigar is more than a cigar…

    I have read Gunshot Road and you, in the corner – get cracking. It’s a fantastic and original book. It’s even worth a post-reading slump, it’s that good.


  7. Jade says:

    If my local Borders has Gunshot Road I will buy it tomorrow, pinky promise. Never mind the fact that I’m stuck halfway through a really awesome book right now, and in a little over a week I’m back at uni so I’ll have a pile of textbooks glaring at me. Yay.


  8. kathy durkin says:

    What is the awesome book–is it fiction?
    Yes–post-good-book slumps. I actually felt it after The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest and The Man from Beijing, and a bit after Hypothermia but that was so sad I had to read a fun book after that, which was Shoot to Thrill by P.J. Tracy (has another title abroad than U.S.)


  9. Maxine says:

    I think this happens to me too, Bernadette, you have encapsulated very well. I go through a run of really great books (well, books I enjoy) then- nothing seems to “gel” and it is hard to become interested. And then I get sad. Because unlike you with your wonderful reality TV, I don’t seem to have any other distractions. So if I can’t settle to reading…I can’t settle to anything. Maybe I might even go and do the ironing, it’s that bad!


  10. Thankfully things haven’t gotten that bad here yet that I need to resort to ironing, though it is nice to know that I’m not alone in suffering these occasional slumps.

    I actually did no reading at all yesterday in the end, not even a magazine. Today I will embark on a new audio book (haven’t decided which one, have about 3 to choose from) and my new print book that I bought yesterday and we’ll see how it goes.


  11. I do hope your local Borders has the book Jade, you’ll need something beautiful to take your mind off all those nasty text books 🙂


  12. Jade says:

    I’ll let you know if I get it, Bernadette! The awesome book is Dragon of the Second Moon by Christian Tamblyn. I got to meet him at Supanova, he’s a very nice man in addition to being a very good fantasy writer. As first novels go, it’s quite good. I’m enjoying it, but just have been so busy I keep neglecting it 😦


  13. kathy durkin says:

    I am still reading “Gunshot Road,” and just loving the sentences, the ideas, the characters. One problem is that I wish I had a glossary. I wish I had a map so I could follow Emily Tempest’s travels, see where she is going, where the little settlements are, what regions she’s visiting. Then I could look up the areas on a map and find photos so I know more about it. Anyone have any ideas? I wish there were a readers’ guide to “Gunshot Road”; that would help folks like me who haven’t been to Australia and aren’t that familiar with the geography, terrain and small, populated settlements and communities–and what it all looks like.
    I saw the movie “Australia” (no laughing please; I liked the photography, the scenery) and am trying to visualize the terrain in this book.


  14. Kathy (and anyone else) you might light to check out an interview Adrian did a little while ago at the Scene of the Crime blog where he talked about the setting for Gunshot Road. It’s at

    The specific communities that Adrian uses in the book are fictional as I understand it but if you want to get something of a sense of the landscape try googling ‘central australia’, ‘tanamai desert’, ‘alice springs’ (the largest real town in that part of the country) or even check out travel sites for the Northern Territory (that’s the state/province of Australia).


  15. Hahaha so it wasn’t just me that was disturbed by those scenes in Hawke….? Especially towards the end when he looked every inch of his 60+ years but the lovely girl they had playing Blanche (didn’t they do HER a rather massive favour there?) looked about 25!!


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