Please contact E. B. Davis at for information on guest blogs and interviews. Interviews for July: (7/6) Jennifer J. Chow (7/13) Meri Allen/Shari Randall (Book 1--Ice Cream Shop Mystery), (7/20) Susan Van Kirk, (7/27) Meri Allen/Shari Randall (Book 2--Ice Cream Shop Mystery).

Monday, January 10, 2022

2022: The Return of Reading Mojo?

By Shari Randall, writing from snowy (finally!) New England

Like many, I lost my reading mojo in 2021. I don’t keep an annual total of books read, but I do know that there are too many books on my TBR that I didn’t open once. They glare from the bookshelf with such resentment that I avoid walking past them. I still read books for my virtual book club -- well, enough chapters of the chosen books to fake having read them. One of my book clubs has surrendered and renamed itself the Two Minute Book Club, because that’s all the time we’ve been spending talking about the books.

What explained this lack of focus for a formerly beloved activity, this lack of reading mojo? Many blamed pandemic malaise, a kind of low level swirling background anxiety that, like an ear worm of an infernally catchy 80s song, blotted out the concentration necessary for sustained reading.

In my case, I think whatever concentration and mojo I had was transferred to watching TV. Pre-pandemic I’d never watched a ton of television, and my use of streaming services had been one and done. My girls gifted me Acorn so I could watch Agatha Raisin and I’m embarrassed to say that Aggie is the only show I streamed on it for a year.

Then came Tiger King, a plus sized dose of streaming mojo, and I turned more to the screen than the bookshelf. I discovered and devoured Broadchurch and Hinterland and Shetland but my streaming diet wasn’t all gloomy British policing. My hubby and I watched every bit of hilarious Brooklyn 99, quirky New Tricks (11 seasons!), and the sprightly detective show from Down Under, Brokenwood Mysteries (Jean!). I warmed to the fresh McDonald and Dodds (set in glorious Bath) on Britbox. We loved Netflix’s Only Murders In the Building. Thank goodness for Only Murders in the Building – it helped me get my reading mojo back.

While watching Only Murders in the Building, I became fascinated by the magnificent Renaissance revival building that was the home of the characters. Some said the “Arconia” was based on the Apthorp, an elegant condominium apartment building on the Upper West Side of Manhattan which was once home to luminaries like Douglas Fairbanks Jr., George Balanchine, Jennifer Hudson, and Nora Ephron. You can admire it here.

My Two Minute Book Club was casting around for a book to read and I suggested Ephron’s I Feel Bad About My Neck mainly because, as a woman of a certain age, the title speaks to me. (Don’t worry, that’s an essay for another day.) Ephron’s memoir is written in short, chatty chapters; each is like a lunch date with your wittiest friend. I looked forward to my time with Nora, as she dished and gossiped about everything, including her love affair with her sprawling rent-controlled apartment in the Apthorp. My streaming and reading worlds collided, and I looked forward to my reading time in a way I hadn’t in months.

So, thank you Only Murders In The Building and Nora. I feel my reading mojo return!

Did you lose some reading mojo in the past year or two?

Has your reading mojo returned?

Shari Randall is the author of the Lobster Shack Mystery series, and as Meri Allen, writes the new Ice Cream Shop Mystery series. The Rocky Road to Ruin debuted in 2021, and Mint Chocolate Murder is available for pre-order now. Follow her on Facebook and Instagram.




Annette said...

I've been reading in fits and starts. My brain is just so emotionally exhausted, I'm having a hard time being drawn in to new worlds. I've begun books that come highly recommended, I've even enjoyed the first half of the book, but somewhere along the line, the real world overwhelms me. Once distracted by the latest dark news, I can't seem to go back and finish the book. I hope for the reading mojo to return this year. Maybe I'll be able to go back and finish those half-read novels.

Jim Jackson said...

I do keep a reading list, but I had not counted how many books I read until answering your question. Only 66, which is probably the lowest number since I retired from my actuarial work. I also had more books that I did not finish. Either the story simply did not keep my interest (the old sagging middle issue) or the writing had too many issues for me to enjoy.

Susan said...

I read a lot because for me it’s an escape. What I couldn’t do was write. There is no doubt in my mind that the pandemic did a terrible number on our minds whether we were young, old, or anywhere in the middle.

Shari Randall said...

Hi Annette, This is exactly how I felt, and still do feel. And that tapering off of interest in a book is also something we're all still struggling with. I hope this year will bring us all happier reading!

Shari Randall said...

Hi Jim, 66 is still a very respectable number, even for readers like us who used to read several a week. As Annette mentioned, I, too, had way more DNFs than I've ever had before. I guess that means the ones that did get finished were something special, or that all our books had to compete with the pandemic for our attention. I'm with you on books with issues - I just picked up a serious, hardcover that was nominated for all kinds of awards, and it has bizarre printing/editing mistakes. It takes one out of the story, and once that happens, we're not going back.

Shari Randall said...

Hi Susan, my writing took a hit, too. The only thing that helped was hard deadlines, otherwise it was too easy to get distracted. I pray this year will bring back our writing mojo, too!

Kait said...

Love the concept of the Two Minute Book Club!

Oh, my Shari, so glad your reading mojo has returned. Fortunately I never lost mine. If anything it increased. What did change? My reading taste turned to lighter reads and is only now permitting the odd darker topics. My writing mojo took a huge hit. I’m hoping to get back on track this year!

KM Rockwood said...

I find my reading is directly related to how I'm feeling. With two major surgeries over the last year, I found myself plunked in front of the TV, trying to at least show some discretion over what I watched (Midsomer Murders over Dr. Pimple Popper, for instance) but as I felt better, my TV watching diminished & my reading picked up again. First it was rereading old favorites, which takes less energy than reading new books, but gradually I returned to my now-about-to-tumble-over TBR list. I realized the other day that I haven't had the TV since before Christmas, when I watched some classic Christmas shows.

Margaret S. Hamilton said...

I took a long break from writing from the week before Thanksgiving until the new year. I did read more, particularly in my continuing search for comp titles for my books-in-progress.

Karen said...

I LOVED Nora Ephron's I FEEL BAD ABOUT MY NECK. Laughed my way through it and have given it to friends. I too did some TV binging ... Shetland (6 seasons), Bosch, and some others. Like others commenting here, I turned to some old favorite books, comfort reads. As I see it, it's a pretty benign way of coping! Thanks for the post. :)

Korina Moss said...

You've spurred me on to get my reading mojo back! But you've also given me more TV to watch. Darn it, Shari! (Ha!)