Interesting question. I definitely get a little overwhelmed by constantly reading with my critic’s eyes, especially this year as I’ve been trying to juggle my reading for VOYA, SLJ (including my new duties as co-editor of Adult Books 4 Teens), and participation in Someday My Printz Will Come and Heavy Medal, plus this blog. So there’s definitely been more than one time when I’ve felt burned out on reading.
So how do I cleanse my palate? It might seem strange to some, but my go-to palate cleanser is almost always nonfiction. Nonfiction, especially adult nonficton that I’m not planning on reviewing, engages such different parts of my brain that it really helps to clear my thoughts of all the different fictional worlds I’m trying to remember. What kind of nonfiction? As you know, some of my primary non-book interests are music, movies, and baseball–over the years I’ve grown fairly bored with reading about music (except anything that Robert Christgau writes), but I love reading about baseball and movies. Anything by Jonathan Rosenbaum or James Naremore on film is great. I like these two because (although Rosenbaum still writes some short reviews) their longform work is more analytical and holistic, not endless lists of best movies or whatever. James Naremore’s book Film Adaptation is a big favorite of mine.
On baseball, again, I like the more analytical stuff based in Sabermetrics – so the Baseball Prospectus books, or a really great book (which I actually did end up deciding to review, but read just for pleasure) called So You Think You Know Baseball by Peter Melzer which goes through all of the arcane rules of baseball by means of crazy plays that have actually happened in baseball games.
I also read a fair number of books about political science and law. Classic Richard Hofstadter or Kenneth Stampp, newer stuff by Glenn Greenwald, William Stuntz, Sandy Levinson, Jack Balkin, and others. Most all of these are pretty dramatically into left-wing politics, which is another interest of mine.
I’m sure many of our readers will find this list a bit bizarre–I cleanse my palate of children’s and YA books by reading four and five hundred page political science books? But as I said, they are helpful for me to stretch my brain in a different way. Also, I tend to take my time with these books in a way that I don’t let myself with YA titles which I read fast and hard so I can get on to the next one.
Good question, though–anyone else have something they use to cleanse their palates?