Dec 28, 2016

The Curse of the Mood Reader

In case you haven't seen it in every other review or Instagram photo I post or seen me mention it on Twitter: I am a mood reader. According to Google, the definition of mood is "a temporary state of mind or feeling." And according to Wikipedia (sorry, teachers!), a mood ring is "a ring that changes colors based upon the temperature of the finger of the wearer." So then a mood reader is, according to yours truly, "someone whose mind or feeling about what they want to read varies by the second." And it is, in fact, a curse.


The thing about mood reading--and the crux of its curse--is that there's a difference between mood and want. You see, as a mood reader, wanting to read something and being in the mood to read something are not one and the same. I may want to read A Tale of Two Cities, but that doesn't mean I'm in the mood to read it. And that is where the problems start.

It's a truth universally acknowledged that a mood reader reading a book they're not in the mood for will most likely not get along with said book. So let's say I start reading A Tale of Two Cities, even though I'm not in the mood for it. I give it a few chapters, see if I might become in the mood for it, testing my mood to see if this book might work. I'll start to realize something: the book isn't working for me, and it's not necessarily its fault. This is a case of it's not you, it's me. (Well, usually.) I'll feel like I'm being forced to read the book, and reading it becomes a struggle and inducer of a certain sort of headache. And in the end, the my view on the book is drastically hurt, simply because I read it when I wasn't in the mood for it.

The only reading I do is mood reading. (Which is especially fantastic when you have review books to go through.) I've tried reading books I'm not in the mood and it just does not work. I'll pick up books I'm iffy on and find that I am in the mood for them, and that's great. But being in the mood for a book doesn't guarantee that I'll like it--it just heightens its chances. I've read books that I was very much in the mood for and we got along just okay. (Those tend to be hyped books, by the way.)

Mood reading limits what I read, while at other times it expands it. This year I've read more adult then ever before, and what I've read has bounced around the spectrum of genres quite a bit. At the beginning of the year contemporaries and I were not friends, and now, at the end of the year, the main thing I want to read is contemporaries. (And since most of my books are in storage and I only have so many available to me, I'm running out of options.) Then there's the further hindrance of want: I have a plethora of books I would very, very much like to read. But I'm not in the mood for them, so I can't read them--at least, not if I want a chance at liking them. I could start a non-mood book, literally read one line, then get this over dramatic ache in my head that says you do not want to read this book. Or I'm reading one book while moodily wishing I was reading another, and that's never a good thing. And let's be completely honest: it's a pain in my ass.

There are some positives to mood reading. Since I really only read books I actually feel like reading, I can be more likely to read them faster and read more books in general. I'm buying more books based on mood, and feeding off that mood. When deciding what to read--if I don't already have something very much in mind--I'll browse my shelves and literally wait for a book to call me. If that doesn't happen I'll taste a few books I'm leaning toward--reading a page or two of each and seeing which one I want to keep reading. And when nothing works, even if I'm in the mood to read something? I try to push through a book or just take a little break and pick something later.

Mood reading is an irritable, picky, choose little creature, and I haven't the faintest clue how you break its curse. Sometimes it's not all bad--I honestly feel like I've been in the mood to actually read more than I was pre-curse. I've been reading a wider variety of books that are tuned to my mood--or maybe I'm just getting older, or maybe getting a degree in Professional and Creative Writing has turned me into a snob. But I read what the mood tells me to, or else I don't read (or like what I'm reading) at all.

Are you a mood reader?

4 comments:

  1. Wow, this article spoke to me on so many levels. I have the exact same problem. I have a huge TBR full of different genres in case I want to read a particular genre. The only genre I'm always in the mood to read is contemporary. But I wish I was more in the mood for fantasy books, and that rarely happens. I'd like to get rid of this curse too!

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  2. This is so true. I'm such a mood reader, and it's a curse. Oftentimes I'll read just the first sentence of a book and toss it aside. And it just makes it worse when I have books with a deadline.

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  3. I am not personally a mood reader, but I do really understand your struggles. There have been many times that I have to read a book due to school, a blog tour, or a review but I just cannot get into it. When this happens it might take me two weeks to actually finish the book.

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  4. I loved this post! I've always been a mood reader. I definitely agree that being a mood reader can both limit and expand your reading.

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