As someone who has, a little bit, lost their energy for reading (I like to read; I just find it difficult to read working 40+ hour shifts, struggling with what feels like near constant fatigue that is constantly diagnosed as “stressed,” and diverting certain energies into mental and physical health), I have tried to be better about it. If I hear someone quote Stephen King one more time about how writers need to read–
One of the ways I started reading again was listening to audio books on my commute. It was comical when my commute was five minutes.
Now that my commute is 20-30 minutes, who’s laughing now?
(Me, I’m still laughing, I love my little jokes.)
The first physical book I read in a bit was actually Gideon The Ninth (I’ll do a reader’s corner when Harrow comes out), then Corona happened, and my mental and physical health went to shit.
But, I’ve since started listening to audio books now that I’m getting better at walking (sunshine and fresh air…who knew?)
And then I read The Starless Sea.
I first cracked it open when I was at a coffee shop (this was about a week before the world started to shut down), and I couldn’t concentrate because people on one side of me were fear mongering about the virus and the other people on the other side of me were on a very introspective date, I think? And I couldn’t help but eavesdrop.
I was very intrigued about the pirate in the basement.
I didn’t pick the book up again for about a month.
I feel like this is a book I probably would have eaten up when I was 20 and was really into metaphors and books about stories and what they mean.
But I’m older now. I don’t mind a good metaphor but I also like some meat and potatoes with my reading. Like, actual plot with actual characters without the pages telling you that the pirate is a metaphor when I really want to read about the pirate.
That is, if the pirate were an actual pirate on a starless sea.
I would not recommend this book if you read slowly, like me. I would not recommend this book if you struggle with exhaustion, like me, because there were so many threads and imagery that meant something else I literally kept forgetting them. There are three images (that I’ve already forgotten though two of them are a bee and sword–third might be a feather) that were mentioned occasionally and that I kept forgetting. Then another three were added. There were also at least three other books within the book and the chapters would alternate and feed into the main story.
It also starred a main gay character, who was in love with a guy, and they ultimately got their happy ending with one of the most arresting images in the books–
but it was lost, to me, with all the other arresting images and I feel that if the author had just concentrated on the story+subplot leading up to that one arresting image, the book would have been much easier to read.
I’m sure this book is amazing for someone who isn’t me. But for someone like me, the prose was so luscious I got lost in it more often than not.