The Sunday Salon – May 30, 2010 (the “how does your mood affect your reading” edition)

The Sunday Salon.com

Does your mood affect the kind of book you want to read? Has there ever been a book you thought you didn’t like and then picked up later, only to discover that you loved it?

When I tried to read Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver a few years ago, I made it to page 100 and then set it aside. I really did not like it at all. But so many people call this one of their absolute favorite novels, that I have started to think I should give it another try. Perhaps it was just my mood at the time that made me react so negatively to it.

I’ve been thinking about how my mood affects my reading choices lately, because I gave up on China Meiville’s The City and the City this week. I have read many glowing reviews of this book, and I love the premise, so I fully expected to fall in love with it. Instead, I found myself disoriented and confused, and not in the mood to put in the time to read far enough to figure out what was going on. I like to think I’ve become less stringent in my reading reactions, however, because unlike my decision to set aside Poisonwood Bible permanently, I fully intend to give The City and the City a try at another time – a time when I’m not stressed out from end-of-school-year craziness and longing for escapist reading.

When I set it aside, I picked up two books I am almost 100 percent sure I will love, because of my prior experience with the authors: Every Last One by Anna Quindlen, and Locked Rooms: Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes Series Book 8 by Laurie R. King. And I am thoroughly enjoying them – they are taking me away from my hormone-related irritation with my spring-fever riddled kids.

Do you consciously pick books based on your mood? Are there certain books or authors you turn to when you need to fit a specific mood?

Other bookish posts this week:

~ Book Review: The Wives of Henry Oades by Johanna Moran
~ Book Review: A Monstrous Regiment of Women by Laurie R. King
~ Book Review: Get Lucky by Katherine Center
~ Book Review: One Amazing Thing by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
~ Book Review: The Heart is Not a Size by Beth Kephart

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29 Responses to The Sunday Salon – May 30, 2010 (the “how does your mood affect your reading” edition)

  1. Booklover says:

    Infact I just wrote a “tops to read more and read better” and referred to how my mood determines what I like to read :)

    Read it here
    .-= Booklover´s last blog ..My Friend Sancho – Amit Varma =-.

  2. My mood totally affects not only which book I pick up but how I react to it. But above and beyond that, there are some authors, China Mieville being one, that you need to be in a very particular mood to approach!
    .-= rhapsodyinbooks´s last blog ..End of May, 1888 – Birthday of Jim Thorpe, One of the Greatest Athletes in American History =-.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies
      says:

      Rhapsody – I am definitely determined to give Mieville another try! Might have to wait until after a month or so of escapist reading, though.

  3. Jeane says:

    This does happen to me now and again. There have been books I set aside more than once because I just wasn’t in the right mind-set for it, but going back to it for the third time, found I loved it. Sometimes it’s hard to judge, though, whether it’s my mood affecting my response to a book, or just a book I wouldn’t ever like, regardless.
    .-= Jeane´s last blog ..weekly finds =-.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies
      says:

      Jeane – Before I have always just assumed it was the book – but now I think it has more to do with my mood. We’ll see what happens when I give it another try!

  4. Trisha
    Twitter: Trish422
    says:

    I think mood really affects reading. I choose books spontaneously and my reaction to a book is determined by mood and what I just read. Sometimes if I’m coming off a truly excellent read, the next one suffers for it. Great post!
    .-= Trisha´s last blog ..Welcome to eclectic / eccentric! =-.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies
      says:

      Trisha – I know exactly what you mean – sometimes reading the best book will set me off into a reading dry spell, where nothing really grips me.

  5. I often pick up books to suit my mood. There are times I don’t, however, and I usually end up regretting it and not enjoying a book as much as I might have otherwise. Although, occasionally, I discover I love a book even so. Fortunately, for the books I do not finish because the mood isn’t right, I can usually tell that that is why and so I set the book aside for a better time.
    .-= Literary Feline´s last blog ..Why I Haven’t Been Around Much Lately =-.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies
      says:

      Wendy – “setting them aside for a better time” – that’s what I’m trying to get better at!

  6. Beth F
    Twitter: BethFishReads
    says:

    Oh yes, mood definitely affects by reactions to books — Sadly, I don’t often remember to give books a second chance.
    .-= Beth F´s last blog ..BEA 2010: Editor’s Buzz =-.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies
      says:

      Beth – My intention is good, but we’ll have to see about the follow-through. :)

  7. Sandy
    Twitter: youvegottaread
    says:

    I think my reaction to a book will be exaggerated by my mood, but I’m not sure it would swing from love to hate based on mood. When I am irritable, I have little tolerance for certain types of books. This week, I was in a mood of sorts (end of school gets us all!) and almost HATED on audio book but loved another. Go figure!
    .-= Sandy´s last blog ..The Heart Is Not a Size – Beth Kephart =-.

  8. Ash says:

    My mood affects my reading 100% of the time. I read a lot of different books and I read multiple books at a time just because of this reading. Sometimes I try to plan ahead on what I want to read, and sometimes I do read those books but a lot of the time I find myself reading a book different than I planned on because my mood changes. There were quite a few books I didn’t like in high school but have returned to and enjoyed. There are also some books I have tried to give a second chance but had no success with, that’s when you know you really didn’t like it!
    .-= Ash´s last blog ..Sunday Salon: Camping =-.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies
      says:

      Ash – I read multiple books at a time, too – that definitely is a good way to deal with the various reading moods.

  9. heidenkind says:

    I consider myself a very moody reader. But to be honest, whenever I’ve given up on a book and then picked it up later, I’ve had the same problems with it no matter what mood I’m in–so maybe I’m not!
    .-= heidenkind´s last blog ..The Making of a Duchess by Shana Galen =-.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies
      says:

      Tasha – I wonder if I will have the same experience when I pick up City and the City again.

  10. Dani in NC says:

    My reading is definitely affected by my mood. Since 99.9% of my reading comes from the public library, there are times when I have to wait in a queue for a popular book. By the time I get it, I may not be in the mood to read the book. Typically, if it is a book that is part of a series I already enjoy, then my mood will turn around once I force myself to read the first few pages. For other books, though, there is little chance of me enjoying a romance if I’m in the mood for a sci-fi book or something. Luckily, I can tell the difference between disliking a book or just not being in the mood for it. When I dislike a book, it evokes a strong response in me; when I’m not in the mood, a little voice in my head says, “You would have enjoyed this last week.”

  11. Kristen
    Twitter: booknaround
    says:

    My mood very definitely impacts my reading. It also impacts my reviewing. I think my general end of school crankiness has contributed to my grouchy reviews lately and the general dearth of them even though I am terribly behind.
    .-= Kristen´s last blog ..It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? =-.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies
      says:

      Kristen – it’s amazing how the end of the school year affects parents just as much as it does the kids!

  12. Belle
    Twitter: msbookish
    says:

    I always have to be in the right mood for a particular book. I’ve held off on reading the latest Laurie King because I haven’t found myself in the right mood yet, but I know once I am, it will be so good.

    I do hope you’ll give The City and The City another try – Jill’s right.. You definitely need to be in a certain mood for it, because until you get into it, it can be a bit disorienting!
    .-= Belle´s last blog ..Reading The Lost Symbol, by Dan Brown =-.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies
      says:

      Belle – I have a feeling that sometime this summer, when I’m nice and (relatively) stress-free, will be a perfect time to give it another try. :)

  13. Vasilly
    Twitter: Vasilly
    says:

    I’m definitely a moody reader. Almost every book I’ve ever picked up out of school, has been because of my mood. After finishing The Passage, I needed something totally different to “clean my palate” with. Every fantasy book that I had checked out from the library went back almost immediately after finishing The Passage. Now I’m reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver, a non-fiction book.
    .-= Vasilly´s last blog ..Review: Newspaper Blackout by Austin Kleon =-.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies
      says:

      Vasilly- yes, I was the same way after The Passage – wanted something completely different!

  14. Sharla says:

    I’ve been thinking about this subject a lot lately. I read Eat, Pray, Love a few years ago, and didn’t love it, but everyone seemed to be raving about it at the time. Since then, I’ve seen Elizabeth Gilbert in her Ted talk speech and also her more recent talk for Oprah’s anniversary, and I love what she has to say. So, I keep thinking that maybe I need to reread the book to see if I feel differently about it now.

    I don’t know. A part of me wants to say that mood doesn’t have anything to do with what my review is of a book, but I’m not so sure anymore…

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies
      says:

      Sharla – I’m not sure that a mood could change how I feel about a book I truly hated, but I do think if I’m just so-so about one – or not wanting to put time into it because of a mood – that it could change.

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