Confessions of a Moody Reader

March 6, 2015

769705-bigthumbnailSo, I have to admit it, I can be quite a moody reader. I have seen others mention this so I know I am not completely alone. It makes sense that some days you may be more in a mood for one type of book than another. But yet sometimes I can’t help but wonder how that impacts my reviews. First, most books I think my opinion of will be the same. If I pick up a GRRM book, regardless of mood, I will likely love it. There are other authors, I’ll be nice and not name, that I can read on any day and immediately regret any time spent reading. But there are some books that I think I need to be in the right mood for or they are doomed and I feel this sense of responsibility to try an match it. Unfortunately, that doesn’t always happen. And sometimes I feel I have to ask my self if I am sure I don’t like it solely because of my mood or is there some other problem with the book that I just can’t identify. Something that is keeping me from engaging with it on the level I would need to to really appreciate it.

I can sometimes recognize books that I enjoy but suspect I would not like on another day. Books where I am more taken in by the pace or the characters to care as much about silly events or happy coincidences that might otherwise cause be to me to want to hurl the book, or maybe just hurl in general. For these, even though I enjoyed them that day, I feel conflicted about what to include in my review. I usually do include the things I recognize because I feel the obligation to let people know, “hey, you know I think this does have some issues. They are things that normally bother me, but today, I just didn’t care.” Maybe this seems wishy washy and I certainly feel like it brings the review down a notch or two. But then, I figure I did notice these things, even while I was enjoying it. So unless I absolutely loved the book and felt it was so strong in so many otherwise (truthfully, this has never been the case when I get this feeling of maybe not liking it another day), I think I should still mention it.

expectancy by smokepaint

Sometimes with these books, I also wonder if it is possible that there is some quality to the writing that I am not giving them enough credit for.  Is it just that I was in the mood for a pulpy, mindless or pure escapist read? Or is there something more. I often think authors don’t get enough credit for writing stories that are just pure fun. I think there is skill in crafting a story like that, but feel that often gets overlooked.

So, those are books that worked better for me than I think they might another day. That would lead me to discuss books that might like if I read another day but did not. I have a harder time with these books. Among other things, I often feel like I maybe I might like some other time or, or disappointed because I feel like I should like it. But I don’t. I just can’t change that or see past it. I have a harder time finding positive things to balance my overall feelings of detachment and disappointment. Writing reviews can be hard. And once again, I have to ask myself, how much of this is really about my mood? Am I just looking to place blame on myself? Or were there real reasons that this book did not work for me? Should I look harder to identify them? And if I can’t, what do I say? “This book irked me but I think I should like it? Maybe I’m just in a bad mood?” I never know. Perhaps I would never like these books, and I just feel like I ought to. No matter what the case may be, I do really struggle to come up with the positive in cases like this.

Anyway, I am not entirely sure what the point of this rambling post was. It’s just something I find myself thinking about and thought I would share.


What about you? Are you a moody reader? How much do you think mood influences your reading experience and reviews?


  • Paul March 6, 2015 at 9:38 am

    I’ve been thinking about this lately myself. I am a moody reader too. If I try to force to read a book that I’m not in the mood for it usually goes badly. I started to do a “classic book” every month reading. I got to month 2 and started Great Expectations by Dickens. I just was so not in the mood to read that book but I forced it. I ended up giving the book a 2 because I just didn’t enjoy it. Now was that the books fault or mine? I think mine.

    I try to keep things as loose as possible when reading but sometimes group reads and “obligation” reads come up and if I’m not feeling it, it doesn’t do the book justice.
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    • Lisa (@TenaciousReader) March 6, 2015 at 5:39 pm

      Obligation reads can be the worst when they are not a good fit! At some point I start to feel like if I were to stop right then, it could maybe be an OK read, but having to finish it, it will end up more in the “Why did I finish” category, which never fairs well.
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  • Tammy @ Books, Bones & Buffy March 6, 2015 at 9:39 am

    I don’t think I’m a mood reader. After blogging for a long time and looking at books with a critical eye most of the time, because most of what I read is for review (unfortunately!), I can always spot things that I like or don’t like about books, and those things rarely change. I would say sometimes I’m in the mood for a lighter book if I’ve read a bunch of heavy, dark stories all in a row, but as far as whether I base my overall feelings about something on my mood, I don’t think I do that. I’d love to get to the point, however, where I can just pick something up because I’m in the mood for it, rather than be tied to a review schedule.
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    • Bob (@beauty_in_ruins) March 6, 2015 at 10:29 am

      I’ve gotten to that same point this year, Tammy, and have started setting aside time for 1 “just because I want to” read each month, with no review expectations attached. If I want to review it, fine, but otherwise it’s completely under the radar and just for me.
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    • Lisa (@TenaciousReader) March 6, 2015 at 5:43 pm

      See, I have always thought of myself as a mood reader, but the more I review, the more I am starting to wonder if it doesn’t have as much impact as I think it does. And honestly, it is probably only borderline books for me that are potentially impacted. My Backlist Burndown is my effort to just pick one book a month for me. 🙂
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  • Bob (@beauty_in_ruins) March 6, 2015 at 10:26 am

    Oh, I get it – I am absolutely a moody reader myself. There are times where nothing works for me, and where I know I just need to put the books down and go for a hike or binge watch some TV. If I try to force myself to read when I’m in one of those moods, I’ll find fault and flaws with everything.

    At the same time, I have moods where I just want to read something silly and stupid. I always keep a selection of offbeat books on hand that I know may not be technically brilliant, and may in fact be very deeply flawed, but I’m just looking for them to deliver on the fun. I’ll generally call it out in a review, and admit I wasn’t paying much attention to the technique, but fun is fun and I won’t hold back on talking about how much I enjoyed a read.
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    • Lisa (@TenaciousReader) March 6, 2015 at 5:46 pm

      I like fun books, sometimes I think there’s not enough credit given to authors for writing page turning books that are fun, but not necessarily some pushing any boundaries or introducing some new spin on things.
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  • Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum March 6, 2015 at 4:08 pm

    I don’t think I’m that moody of a reader, though there are definitely types of books I have to be in a certain mindset for. The two examples that immediately come to mind are Evensong and The Goblin Emperor. For Evensong, I had to be in the right mood to try something new, and that ended up working really well. For The Goblin Emperor, if I hadn’t known beforehand the kind of book I was in for, I think I would have been much less patient with it.
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    • Lisa (@TenaciousReader) March 6, 2015 at 5:47 pm

      meh on Goblin Emperor. I knew it was going to be slow, but oh my, it didn’t help me. I could see why people like it, but it just didn’t work for me. I have wondered if my mood might have influenced that reaction, but in some ways, I kinda doubt it.
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  • Nathan (@reviewbarn) March 6, 2015 at 10:59 pm

    I don’t think I am. I PICK books based on mood, but once I get going I usually do fine no matter the outside influences.
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  • Anya @ On Starships and Dragonwings March 9, 2015 at 9:17 pm

    I’m running into this more and more lately. I mostly have the moments where I can see the literary merit of a book but it just isn’t working for my current mood and it makes me sad or feel like I don’t have refined enough taste, haha. Sometimes I just need light and fun though!
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  • Danya @ Fine Print March 10, 2015 at 10:03 am

    I know the feeling, although like Nathan I think my mood generally influences my reading choices more than my final thoughts on the book. This is why I can’t do TBR piles – they’re futile because sometimes I’m just not in the mood for the book that sounded great last month. That said, I can think of one book where my mood really influenced how I felt about it: Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson. I don’t know why, but I just really wasn’t in the mood to read high fantasy when I picked it up, and that really hampered my enjoyment. I think I would’ve enjoyed it more at a different time.
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    • Lisa (@TenaciousReader) March 10, 2015 at 8:16 pm

      It’s so hard to know. 🙂 And yeah, if you’re not in the mood for high fantasy, Sanderson is going to fall terribly flat! But sometimes the trick is figuring that out before reading, which I am not always the best at.
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