NARB or Just Read!

I pursued a career in publishing because I love books. Not just like books. Not just enjoy them on occasion. I’m talking make-you-late-to-work-and-miss-half-your-family-vacation-with-nose-in-the-pages kind of love. LOVE.

So I pursued this career with enthusiasm.  Worked endless unpaid hours as an intern.  Took classes.  Volunteered for every single extra opportunity.  Attended conferences.  And it has brought me to today, where I get to work on my own list of books, with my own list of clients!  (*swoon*)

But here’s the thing.

Once you work in publishing, there is a certain amount of guilt that comes with the territory (and this includes writers, too!). And I’m talking about reading guilt.

You may or may not have read a post I wrote years ago for Colleen Lindsay’s blog on Reader’s Block, which amazingly still gets pinged to this day.  It’s my only post to do so for so long, and the only reason I can guess as to why is because not enough people are talking about Reader’s Block, but there are definitely people feeling it.

The guilt. The deprivation. The reader’s block.

Because reading was such an enjoyable process for me, it feels like a reward. And before I worked in this business, I had a lot more free time on my hands to reward myself with a good book.

Then I did the impossible thing…I got a job where I can READ FOR A CAREER! YAY OF ALL YAYS!

And it really is a YAY (exclamation point!).

But this is the first job I’ve had that doesn’t get left at the office.  In fact, it’s not only brought home with me, but half of it’s done outside of the office.  And the work-reading piles up.

I always thought I was a fairly quick reader, but it turns out I’m not in this business. I’m also supremely stubborn about skimming. I don’t like to do it. I want to read the details! Authors spend so much time working and reworking their sentences…the heart is in those details. Why would I want to skim?

But because of all of this, what gets put on the backburner is the reward. That book you’ve been eying. The guilt starts creeping in. And you start to justify this deprivation to yourself by saying that you ARE reading, and you should be grateful that you work on books for a living.

Well, I’m here to tell you to cut the crap.

Nothing puts your job into perspective better than a good book that IS NOT one you’ve worked on.  This applies whether you’re a writer, an agent, an editor, a reviewer, etc. In order to keep yourself grounded, you need to know what else is out there. In order to push yourself as a writer or publishing professional, you need to go outside your norm and try something new. In order to give your mind a BREAK from work, you need to fall completely into another world and get swept away. Not only will this give your mind a break…but it will inspire you!

You must do this if you want to work in this business. Or you will reach burn out.

So I challenge you all to something new. That’s right…I said CHALLENGE. (We all know how competitive us book peoples can be!)

For the month of June, turn off your writer/editor/professional reader brain for at least 3 hours a day. Instead, use those 3 hours to read that book on your nightstand you’ve been dying to pick up.  Then why not the one underneath it? Or to do something yourself for just YOU.

I declare June National Avoid Reader’s Block Month! Or NARB for those in the know. (It’s also National Safety Month, and I feel this is appropriate.)

This gives you a month to prepare…get into the mindset. SPREAD THE WORD.

And this is the first book I’m reading come NARB:

What’s on your NARB list?

(Wouldn’t it be crazy if NARB became, like…a thing???  Whatever.  Just read!)


35 Responses to NARB or Just Read!

  1. Julie Apr 26 2012 at 5:31 am #

    Great post, Jo! I can’t wait for NARB to start! (And yes, the fact that June is also National Safety Month is quite appropriate. ;))

    • JoSV Apr 26 2012 at 7:34 am #

      Right? I giggled when I noticed it.

  2. Jennifleura Apr 26 2012 at 5:55 am #

    This is perfect! There are always mountains of books I’m desperate to read. In my case, I’m reading psychology papers instead for my exams. Eek! You’ve chosen a fantastic book to begin with – I love the Book of Lost Things! Very dark and thick with fairytales. Let us know what you think when you’ve read it! xx

    • JoSV Apr 26 2012 at 7:34 am #

      Yes–maybe if we’re all encouraging each other to do this for just ONE MONTH…it will be done. And then we’ll all feel refreshed and inspired!

      What’s your first book going to be?

      • Jennifleura Apr 27 2012 at 11:24 am #

        In between reading studies and lecture notes, I’m thinking of sneaking in Angelmaker by Nick Harkaway and Deathless by Catherynne Valente. I can’t wait for all the summer YA releases!

  3. Carla Cullen Apr 26 2012 at 7:28 am #

    Great idea! June’s the perfect month for me to do this, because once my kids get out of school on June 8, I spend less time at the computer and more time driving them to their various camps and classes. I’ll just bring a book with me and read it while I’m waiting for them at tennis/swimming/acting classes. The first two books are my NARB list are Insurgent by Veronica Roth and Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore.

    • JoSV Apr 26 2012 at 7:35 am #

      Fantastic choices!!

  4. Vanessa Di Gregorio Apr 26 2012 at 10:08 am #

    JO! This is such a fantastic post!

    And I totally agree! As a rep, I’m expected to read books from my publisher’s lists (so I can sell them better), but sometimes it’s nice reading a book that I know I won’t be selling, you know? And when I interned at a lit agency, I definitely felt burnt out – I wasn’t really reading books I had been eyeing.

    I think this should DEFINITELY be a thing! I was DYING to read FROI OF THE EXILES, but I STILL haven’t picked it up – mostly because my TBR pile is so massive, and what with a puppy and work and writing, I just can’t keep up! So I think NARB is THE BEST. IDEA. EVER! Let’s make this happen!

    FROI, you and me in June, baby!

    • JoSVolpe Apr 26 2012 at 1:18 pm #

      I know! It totally applies to all of us. I’ve had friends from all different pub jobs feel burned out at one point or another.
      You must read FROI for NARB!

  5. Tim Apr 26 2012 at 10:30 am #

    Oh my God! John Connolly’s the book of Lost Things! I read the first two chapters of that in my Uni Library and I’ve been dying to get it ever since. I’d say Connolly’s my favourite crime author, and my second favourite author. Oh Charlie Parker.
    Well…I always read for fun 😛

  6. Becky Apr 26 2012 at 10:39 am #

    Nice post! I’ve definitely had some readers blog lately.

    • JoSV Apr 26 2012 at 11:41 am #

      It happens to the best of us!

  7. JJ Apr 26 2012 at 10:40 am #

    I love The Book of Lost Things. I just…gaah.

    • JoSV Apr 26 2012 at 11:42 am #

      I know! You were one of the many you recommended it to me 🙂

      • Erin Bowman Apr 26 2012 at 12:59 pm #

        I have to chime in to say that THE BOOK OF LOST THINGS is one of my all-time favs. I’ve read it three or four times. I love it to death. Oooh, you are in for a treat, Jo. 🙂 🙂

        • Krispy Apr 26 2012 at 8:24 pm #

          Just here to echo Erin and JJ! It’s such a beautiful, heartbreaking book!

  8. Leigh Bardugo Apr 26 2012 at 11:44 am #

    Great post. This is exactly why I’m starting WOOL this week.

  9. Ellen Apr 26 2012 at 11:53 am #

    So true. Wait until school ends–the first thing I’m doing is catching up on all my reading material that’s been sitting around my room for an eternity and a half. 🙂

  10. Tracey Neithercott Apr 26 2012 at 1:19 pm #

    Great post! For my day job I write health articles, so when I want to read fiction I get the but-this-isn’t-for-work guilt. Granded, I rarely pay attention to it (fiction is so much more fun than nonfiction, I can’t help it), but it’s there. I’ve been dying to read The Book of Lost Things, but for some reason haven’t gotten around to it. Maybe I’ll follow your lead and make that my NARB book. Though, truthfully, every month should be NARB. It’s like, I don’t know, the same thing as National Mental Health Month, which unfortunately doesn’t have any vowels to make a nice acronym.

    • JoSVolpe Apr 27 2012 at 10:15 am #

      NMHM sounds like the grunts my husband makes in the morning, so it’s kind of an acronym? Reaching? haha

      Yes! Let’s read this together!

  11. Eva Rieder Apr 26 2012 at 2:12 pm #

    I love the NARB plan! I’ve been trying to do this for the last month, and am finding I’m just devouring books at an alarming speed lately (which is to say not all that fast, but much faster than I did when I had my “brain on”). I have three on my nightstand and ten (yes, 10!) piled on my coffee table to inspire me to just go for it. Several of them are not in my writing genre, nor any of my usual reading genres, and I’m enjoying the variety. But…school’s out in June (I’m a teacher), so there will be some heavy duty reading to go alongside the writing! Thanks for an enjoyable and inspiring post.

    • JoSVolpe Apr 27 2012 at 10:16 am #

      I don’t know about you, but I feel so much better when I’ve had brain-time off. I’m glad to hear you’ve already been doing this!

  12. Sarah Frances Hardy Apr 26 2012 at 3:38 pm #

    Okay, adding The Book of Lost Things to my stack!!

    Love this–Stephen King says he reads for a certain number of hours every day. One of the best things that we can all do!!


    • JoSVolpe Apr 27 2012 at 10:18 am #

      Yes…and who can argue with the King?? That’s a man who knows his stuff!

  13. April Tucholke Apr 26 2012 at 5:15 pm #

    Rothfuss’s The Name of the Wind. That’s going on my NARB list. And maybe another Zane Grey or two. Or McMurtry. Man, I love westerns. They do the best vengeance, outside Tarantino.

    B of L Things. Yes. Books that are more than books. One of the top 10 fictional premises.

    • JoSVolpe Apr 27 2012 at 10:19 am #

      Oooo, I have a feeling you’ll like Rothfuss!

      And you know how much I like books that are more than just books. 😉

  14. Kimberly Cooper Apr 26 2012 at 6:55 pm #

    This is a great idea. I can’t wait to start!

  15. Julie Apr 26 2012 at 7:13 pm #

    I’d need two books if I wanted to read for 3 hours straight. XD

    • JoSVolpe Apr 27 2012 at 10:20 am #

      I’m jealous! I have a few colleagues that are SO fast at reading (and they retain everything…they’re really just fast). I wish! I would read so much, all the time. le sigh.

  16. Patrick Gabridge Apr 27 2012 at 10:18 am #

    Great post, Joanna! I’m deep into writing an historical novel, so the piles of research books and books in the same genre are piled up high on my desk, and it’s so hard to make the time to read just for the pure love and fun of it. (As a playwright, too, I find the same thing–I’m in the theatre all the time, but the list of plays by playwright friends or featuring actor pals is long, and it’s hard to find a night out to see an unknown play purely for the chance of some new discovery.)

    I’ve got Matthew Pearl’s The Technologists waiting on the nightstand. Maybe I’ll even get to it before June and start NARB early.

    • JoSVolpe Apr 27 2012 at 10:21 am #

      Yes! You’ve got a double-doozy with both books and plays, oy. Its one of those things where you feel lucky as anything to be doing what you love…but sometimes you need a break from that, too.

      Pick up The Technologists tonight, I say! Even if just for 20 minutes.

  17. Gemma Cooper Apr 29 2012 at 3:13 pm #

    Great post and I totally agree with the guilt of a big pile of TBR books staring at you from your bookshelf. Hubs was away last Saturday and I had some proper book reading time – The Fault In Our Stars, then Wonder. Felt amazing to have new non-work books to talk/rave/recommend this week. I’ll totally join NARB in June 🙂

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.