So for about two weeks, I couldn't read books. Any book seemed like an illustration of Zeno's Dichotomy to me; how could I read the whole thing if I couldn't even get halfway?

The trick was: I needed to retrain myself into reading again. I started with I Found This Funny, edited by Judd Apatow. It's an anthology of humorous (and not-so-humorous) writing that Apatow, in the introduction, claims to be an in the vein of a great old anthology titled This Is My Best. I love This Is My Best; it's an anthology featuring some truly great writers (Dorothy Parker, Ernest Hemingway) choosing their best piece of writing and explaining why they think it's their best. I bought my copy of Best at the Friends of the Library book sale. It's one of the books I chose to bring with me to The Stranger when I got the books editor job here. I flip through it for inspiration now and again. I started flipping through Funny in the same way, choosing the smallest pieces, and reading them. It was like building up a muscle. Before I knew it, I had read half the book, and then I managed the rest in no time.

From there, I went to a book by a writer I loved when I was a kid: The Very Best of Charles de Lint. It was structured very much like This Is My Best, with de Lint editing his own stuff and choosing the works he believes to be not his favorite but his qualitative best. This was a way to reintroduce the idea of long-form narrative to my brain; de Lint's urban fantasy includes characters who recur over time. They change and learn and grow. Some of the pieces I had probably read before; but that's okay. I just knew I needed to read something good.

From there, I read a couple of titles from Angry Robot Books, a new-to-America genre publisher. The books I chose, Moxyland and Edge, were strictly based on the back cover copy. (And William Gibson is a fan of Moxyland, which appealed to me). But they weren't too challenging or dense; they were the equivalent of quick sprints to get my patience back up to snuff.

As I said, I think this is a struggle I go through every year; I hope next year I remember that it's not a unique or difficult problem, and that I can get through it by exercising my reading skills and by reading things that I want to read and that I know will be good. Lulls like these, I think, are a part of every reader's life cycle. The trick is knowing how to overcome them and not get sucked into a pattern of disgust.