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I’m a lifelong voracious reader. I’d rather read a book than do just about any other leisure activity. I’m not even going to pretend that I’m engaging in a slow perusal of high-brow classics — I like urban fantasy, mystery, paranormal romance, thrillers, and even the occasional non-fiction offering. No Jane Austen here.

I used to do a monthly blog post of mini-reviews of the books I’d read the previous month and that was a lot of fun. Unfortunately, last August when I was served with divorce papers, I developed a terrible side effect. I found I could no longer focus my mind enough to read.

When I needed it most, I couldn’t read.

And when I tried, assuming I could get past that one paragraph I’d read over and over and over again, I hated the stories. I found that nothing held my interest; the characters were insipid; the plots ridiculous.

It wasn’t the books.

It was me.

Spending so much time completely immersed in the legal process of divorce and its requirement to think about and deal with Voldemort, I was unable to escape the emotional aftereffects and simply enjoy a good book. This lasted about six very long months.

Once the settlement meeting and moving to a new home were behind me, I became more relaxed and was able to actually read a book again. I still hated a lot of what I read and wasn’t sure if the stories were lacking or if I was still stuck in a pissy, judgmental place.

As time passed, I’ve been able to reclaim my love of reading. I’ve once again found my equilibrium and can absolutely discern when I’m just not in the mood for a particular story versus a story that isn’t well written. It’s a relief and a joy to open my Kindle (587 books waiting to be read!) or go to the library (thousands of choices!). I once again crave the simple pleasure of being lost in a book for an hour or a day.

Marriage may not last forever, but books are lifelong friends. Have you lost or given up an activity you really loved during stressful times? Did you ever go back to it? Did you discover something new? And how did you handle the stress without your favorite hobby?