Why timing is everything with reading

Do you ever think that maybe, if you had read a book a different time, you might have had a different reaction to it?

I wanted to write this post because a) it gives me a reason to use awesome gifs like that one, and 2) I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately. Because I have read quite a few books this year. About 105 of them, to be precise. To be fair, a few of those are re-reads (I tend to read The Fault in Our Stars when I’m really stressed, for example). But not many of them. The majority are books I’ve never read before.

And, I mean, it can be positive or negative.

I guess we should talk about negative first.

Because, you know, after that I can cheer you up with the positive. That’s always good. So sometimes I read a book, and maybe it’s been a bad week, or I’m tired, or maybe I’ve read a bajillion other similar books recently. And that makes me dislike a book. Sometimes I think I might have liked it in a parallel universe, or even loved it – and it worries me that I might be missing out on that because of a matter of timing.

I think it was actually Throne of Glass that got me thinking about that. I can distinctly recall that I read it during a really busy week at school, and there was a lot going on. So that might have been one of the reasons I didn’t enjoy it as much as I wanted to, despite LOVING the second book. It was the same with Daughter of Smoke and Bone, which…I don’t know. I wasn’t amazed by it.

And at the rate I read books, I don’t really have time to re-read them, even if I might love them the second time around. Or I have no inclination to read them again. Obviously it might be about more than just timing, but I really do think it can be a big factor in your enjoyment of a book.

Also, have you noticed that there are lots of TRENDS in YA books? Love triangles, things like that. So if you read too many books where that trend is obvious, it will affect your reaction to a book (or it does to mine, anyway). Maybe, if you hadn’t read all those other books with the same trend, you would have loved it!

So that’s another thing.

But then we have positive.

Occasionally you read a book at JUST the right moment, and it’s perfect, and you might not have liked it as much otherwise. Like when I reread The Perks of Being a Wallflower – I didn’t like it the first time so much, but the second time, I don’t know what changed – I guess it was just what I needed to read at the time. Apparently I also needed to bawl my eyes out because that happened too.


Sometimes I think…oh my gosh. What if I hadn’t like The Fault in Our Stars? Or any of my other favourite books?

What if, because of hype, or not reading it at the right time, I missed out on one of my MOST FAVOURITEST BOOKS EVER. That would be a tragedy. But it wasn’t. Because I loved it. Some books are ones that I could have easily disliked if I wasn’t in the mood for them, I think. Because of awesome timing, though, I ended up liking them. I think this is probably the case with Geek Girl by Holly Smale – you’ve got to be in the MOOD for it, you know?

And the same with Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson. That book affected me hugely, and I still have no idea why. But for books to hit me on such an emotional level, I really do need to be in the right mind-space, or it just doesn’t work. I can’t summon that feeling. In If I Stay by Gayle Forman, I liked it, but I couldn’t connect with it. And sometimes it’s hard to separate the flaws of the book itself from the circumstances you read it in.

Let’s be honest: I’m not going to re-read every book I didn’t like, even if everybody else loves/loved them. Because there’s not enough time in the world. And yeah, maybe I would have really liked those books if I’d read them at a different time.

I’m just grateful that the timing has been right for many of my favourite books, and that I fell in love with them.


Do you think timing/circumstances affect how much you like a book? Tell me which books! I’d love to know 🙂


31 thoughts on “Why timing is everything with reading

  1. I’d never really thought about it…but yes. It’s TRUE. Although I totally don’t think I’d ever have inclination to even want to read a lot of the books I disliked. I mean, not everyone likes everything, right?? And some books have made me so angry or frustrated I wouldn’t reread them if you paid me. BUT. I definitely think timing is a thing! And maybe getting in a rut? Like if you read a whole bunch of meh books when you’re not in a terrific mood, perhaps you’ll rate them lower? I just read a few really low star books, and I feel like I’m being super critical of whatever I read next. >_<

    • That’s the same with me. Although I’m ALWAYS wondering, you know? What if I had loved that book in a different set of circumstances?? Yes, getting stuck in a rut sucks, and it happens a lot when you read so many books, I think. And there are always times when I’ll be more critical than others. Sucks for those books, but it happens!

  2. I think this is a great point. I read Twilight right when it came out on the recommendation of a friend, way before the hype got to it, and I honestly enjoyed it. I seriously doubt I could’ve read it unbiasedly after it became such a huge franchise. This summer I tried reading Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson, which like 99.99% of bloggers I follow LOVED, but I couldn’t even get halfway through it (I was having major contemporary burnout)!

    • I read half the first book of Twilight and hated it, but now I don’t as much. I was one of those Potterheads who HATED the series for no good reason, so that definitely would have affected it, compared to if I read it now. I’ve heard so many good things about Since You’ve Been Gone, but I read another of her books and wasn’t impressed so…eh. That happens with me and contemporaries as well, I guess because there are SO many tropes overdone in the genre.

      • I agree! Contemporaries blur together for me the most, and I think I get burnt out on them the quickest. I have to space them out between fantasy and paranormal or I start to tire of them quickly.

  3. You make very good points. I am very susceptible to hype, and I think it does affect how I feel after reading an uberly-hyped book. Although, I read the Hunger Games amidst the hype, and I despised it. So maybe…I don’t know. I did, however, absolutely love this uberly-hyped books: If I Stay, TFIOS, and Divergent. I also just realized that I didn’t red Heroes of Olympus for a while because of the beginning of the first book! [I have absolutely no clue how that relates to anything, but bear with me.] So, um, yeah. Great post!

    • Gosh, SO AM I. I get influenced by hype so easily. But it can be really nice when you loved a hyped book, because there are so many people to talk about it with! And I think that actually makes me enjoy a book more sometimes 🙂 I did like Divergent but Allegiant just ruined the WHOLE THING for me, haha.

  4. I agree that timing can play a huge role in how much I like a book. A lot of my opinions on books depend on what mood I’m in or even what reviews I’ve read about the book. I also go through bookish phases where I suddenly want to read all of the books in a certain genre. I just went through a fairy tale retelling and a memoir phase in which I basically loved every single fairy tale retelling and memoir that I read.

    • Yesss, reading reviews makes a huge difference – being a blogger I read a TON of reviews, often at the release time, and sometimes they’re over-hyped and I end up being disappointed. Oooh, those phases are the best! My contemporary YA phase never ended lol. I’m still in it 😛

  5. Hmm…I don’t think this has ever happened to me. I dislike very few books, and I dunno, maybe that’s because I always time it right, because I never read something I’m not in the mood for…(unless it’s due back at the library soon).

  6. There are a few books I read when I was a teenager that will be forever favourites, but I’ve wondered whether if I read them for the first time now I’d find them a bit melodramatic, or predictable, or whatever. I definitely think timing makes a difference.

    The other thing that I have noticed is that I seem to be more tolerant of a book if I’m hearing it as a well-read audiobook. I got an Audible trial this month and I’ve been listening to “Song of Achilles” on my commute. The author spends SO MUCH TIME describing how beautiful Achilles is that I think if I were reading the paperback I may have lost patience with it. But because I’m listening to it, there’s a sort of poetry to it, if that makes sense? Also, I’m driving so it’s not like I can do anything else, whereas if I was reading a paperback there are so many other things competing for my attention.

    • Yes! I have SO many childhood favourite books, but I’m scared to read them again because they probably won’t be as good, lol.

      I’ve actually never listened to an audiobook. I couldn’t do it while driving – I’m a bad enough driver as it is! But I can imagine that the descriptive passages would be nicer when they’re being read TO you, rather than having to plough through them yourself. I think I really need to listen to some audiobooks…

  7. This is a really good post! I’ve been thinking about this lately, too. Normally I don’t think timing affects me TOO much, but a couple of weeks ago our cat died suddenly, and I was a complete wreck for days. Just like a crying hot mess all over the place. I’m still upset obviously, but for those first few days it was BAD. And it ended up affecting my reading! I was in the middle of one book, and it just completely ruined it for me, even though basically everybody else I know has loved it and I expected to as well. And then the book I read immediately after that I don’t love either, even though I thought I would. Ugh. Now I want to go back and read both of those one day, because I really do think that it was just bad timing! I’m definitely keeping them on my shelves for now…hopefully I’ll be able to try them again someday.

    • First of all, I’m really sorry about your cat 😦 I would be distraught if one of my cats died. *HUGS* But yeah, personal things can affect my enjoyment of a book too. You can’t help that, really. But I can sympathise with wanting to go back and read those books, because some of them I can OBJECTIVELY see they’re awesome, but I’m just not feeling it, you know?

  8. I definitely think timing makes a difference. I personally didn’t ‘get’ the hype with The Fault In Our Stars (sorry!) I thought it was good, but not the amazing read I was expecting. I often wonder if I’d read it before all of the hype whether I’d have enjoyed it a lot more. I built up my expectations too high and was let down.

    • And there’s nothing wrong with that! Not everyone can like every book (it’d be awesome, but no). I read it back in ye olde 2012 so there wasn’t that much hype around it yet – only my own hype after reading Looking for Alaska and LOVING IT.

  9. This is so true! I’ve never really thought of it before, but from reading this post, I know exactly what you mean. And I think the hype of a book can have a lot to do with it — when expectations are raised too high, most likely your opinion of that novel is going to fall flat. And also, I also think that age/experience might have something to do with timing and liking/not liking a book. I have plenty of kids books that I remember loving at the time, but years later I’ve gone back and reread them… and they’re never as good as I remember, you know? (This excludes Harry Potter. Duh.) Then there are other books which I might have read too young, and hadn’t been able to fully appreciate, if that makes sense. And then — like you said — for some books, you have to be in the mood for. Especially when it comes to light-hearted fluff, because a lot of those books aren’t very substantial in a way (which is completely fine) but you just have to be in the mood to enjoy them. So essentially, timing is everything.

    • I hadn’t thought of it before reading Throne of Glass, actually. But that got me thinking (WOAH, Emily thought something!). Hype is definitely a huuuuge factor, and now that I’m a book blogger it affects me even more than it used to. In a way I miss going into a bookstore and not knowing anything about the books – compared to now when I know something about pretty much every one. But at the same time I wouldn’t change that for the world. Oh, gosh, I don’t want to reread my childhood books for fear of them being ruined! Although,yes, obviously Harry Potter doesn’t count in that 😛 so true about fluffy books. You need to be in a fluffy mood. OR sometimes in a sad mood to be cheered up. But they can be very temperamental…

  10. Completely agree with this; it’s happened to me before. Also with Perks. I read it at a time when I could relate to Charlie’s shyness so that was a real comfort to me. Also with TFIOS. The first time I read it I hated it. I found Augustus annoying and hated all the romance but the second time I fell in love with it. Weird. Really enjoyable and original post!

  11. YES. THIS.
    There’s been so many books that I SHOULD have loved, but barely even tolerated and I can safely say it was probably due to timing and not being in that frame of mind to read them. Throne of Glass was once of those for me too. I struggled with names and couldn’t get into the storyline and ended up pissed that I’d wasted my time. Normally, I probably would have loved it. Nowadays I tend to pick up whatever strikes me, even bypassing review copies that are overdue. You really have to be in the mood for some reads. Brilliant post Em ❤

    • YAY. NOT JUST ME AGAIN. Throne of Glass is one I’m so sad I didn’t like. But seriously, try Crown of Midnight. It is SO much better than the first one. I absolutely loved it. Now to read The Assassin’s Blade…bypassing review copies scares me, though. For some reason. Maybe I need to chill 😛

  12. I definitely agree with timing issues, but I avoid most problems by trying to anticipate them. So when I’m choosing a book to read, I try to predict whether it is a good time to read it or not. That helps. Long and difficult books I leave for the holidays because I know I will be too distracted.
    I have had two very distinct experiences in this regard, with The Book Thief and also Zoo City (Lauren Beukes). Both those books I took out from the library on several occasions and could never quite get into them, but always felts that something had been in the way. I couldn’t understand why I wasn’t getting into them because they were great books. So I gave each a rest for a year and then tried again. And yep, then I LOVED them.

    • See, that’s a good way to do it. Sometimes I don’t have that luxury because I have review copies to read, but with my own books I DO do that. And I leave long books for the holidays as well, LOL. No time during the school term 🙂 Oh gosh, I’m so glad you loved The Book Thief after waiting for a while. Maybe I should try that with some of the other books I wanted to love…just wait until I’m in the right mood to get into them 🙂

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  14. I think timing does play a huge part in how you receive a book. Especially if you’re a mood reader. Reading a bad book for your mood can ruin the book. But, I also think a lot of things depend on timing, and unlike books, you can never find out how a different timing can change it. With books, you can eventually go back and read the book again and see if anything changes. Awesome post! 🙂

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