Perv Alert! Refractory Reading

Refractory Period. I love this phrase. But not for reasons you may think, you little pervs. 

Refractory Period is a term commonly used to refer to the cooling off time (mostly for guys, ahem) after knocking boots. First introduced to this in my Sexuality 101 class in college, I now use it in another uncommon sense.

I’ve coined refractory reading for myself whenever I finish a book. The moment I’m done, I set the book on my nightstand, stare into space and light a cigarette.

No, not really. But I like to pretend. I pretend so hard.

"You're welcome, Book."

 I want to focus on the end – the finished product of reading a book. How you digest a book. Mental processes at work.

For me, I have to have a refractory period after any book I read. It takes me between 1-2 weeks to pick up another, which definitely cuts into precious reading time…I can’t cram as many books down my gullet with that little break but it must be done. I need time to absorb, to have a break from a big book.

 In between the refractory period I usually read lit mags and my token Playboy to cool off a little bit. I plot my next book carefully, standing in front of my bookshelves agonizing over what-shall-I-read?.

Then, I think about what I’ve read. Analyze it. I’m not a scholar but I generally like to understand what I’ve just consumed. Wikipedia-it if I don’t get the theme. Discuss it with others who have read it.

 I’m not sure why I do this. It’s almost as if I feel the need to have a moment (or a week) of appreciative, contemplative silence for the book I’ve just read.

Does anyone else do this? Or are you those dastardly jumpers? The lucky folk who can jump right into another book the moment after you finish the last one? (Yes, I said folk.)

I think there's a book down there. Somewhere...

 No matter what way I put it, one thing cannot be denied. I end all my books just like my ex-boyfriends.

With paper cuts and tears.

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  • Reply

    Michael Gillan Maxwell

    January 8, 2012 at 7:08 pm

    Love the quirky, irreverent and playful sense of humor that comes through in your posts Jules. Always makes me smile!

  • Reply


    January 8, 2012 at 8:05 pm

    Thanks Michael. Make me smile to hear that!

  • Reply

    Harley May

    January 8, 2012 at 10:13 pm

    I love how you phrase things – give the book you just finished a moment (or week) of silence. Yes.

    It depends on the book for me. If it hits me in the right places, I absolutely have to sit and digest, talk about it with others. If I’m kind of ‘meh’ about it, then I do want to pin point why it was just meh to me. After a meh book, I am hungry to replace the taste in my mouth with something mahvelous.

    I like you.

  • Reply


    January 8, 2012 at 10:53 pm

    Totally agree with you, Harley, about replacing a bad book ASAP with a better one.
    I like you too. I hear you have a guitar and I have a ukulele. Let’s duet.

  • Reply

    susan tepper

    January 10, 2012 at 12:25 am

    Jules, I read sloooowwww…. then I wait a while before the next book. I like the book to have its fair shot at me — like the men in my (former) unmarried life. I was never one of those 3 guys in one weekend type of gal. It’s hard on the elbows… plus other things….

  • Reply


    January 10, 2012 at 3:46 am

    Instead of lighting a cig, why not shoot up to get over the refractory period sooner?
    I kid, I kid!

    But, in all seriousness, I only take a day or two before I start a new book. It takes me that long to get over it, not to necessarily analyze the novel I just read, but to mourn it. If it’s bad in the beginning, I usually give up. I admit it, I am a quitter. But if it’s good, I need time to mourn the amazing diction & understand that I will never feel the exact way that I feel about a book at that moment.

    Have I told you lately that my favorite book is “The Little Old Man Who Could Not Read?”
    Gets me every time!


  • Reply


    January 11, 2012 at 2:36 am

    Haha, Susan, you crack me up. But I like your style.

    Chris – you so crazy. Yes, I know you love that book. It is a fond memory for me too.

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