Normally when we readers talk about reading slumps, we only talk about the slump itself, and how much it sucks. But today I want to get to the bottom of this. I am, by nature, an analyst and a planner. I like lists. I like to know how things work. And I especially like to know how to fix problems, and how to prevent them from happening in the future.
So today I’m going to be breaking down the reading slump and going over a few tips as to how I overcome and avoid reading slumps. Get your goggles and lab coats.
Questions to ask yourself when in a reading slump:
I’m all for fixing the problem. But before I do that, I want to figure out why the problem is there in the first place. I ask myself these questions:
1. Do you feel like reading?
Okay, this is kind of a duh question. “Of course I don’t feel like reading. That’s why I’m in a slump!”
Are you sure? Like really sure? Is it just that you don’t want to read at all, or just not the book you’re currently reading? Which brings me to the next question:
2. Do you like the book you’re currently reading?
Most often for me, the answer is no. And if this is the case with you, congratulations! Your solution is simple: chuck the book you’re currently reading. (well, maybe don’t actually throw your book/ereader, just set it down and pick up a different one)
3. (If you’re not currently reading a book) Why?
Don’t ask yourself this question in a judgmental way (Because there is nothing wrong with not always having a book in your hand 24/7). Ask it with genuine curiosity. Most often, I come up with one of two answers: 1) I just finished a book and I’m still reeling from it and it feels too soon to move on. 2) I just haven’t found a new book that suits my fancy yet.
I’ll discuss how to find a solution to these down below.
4. Could an external factor have a role here?
It’s worth asking. I’ve found that when I’m going through some stressful stuff at school, it affects my reading habits. I’m indecisive in what I want to read, I can’t seem to focus when I actually do sit down to read, and I’m more prone to jumping on the internet for a quick distraction than picking up my book.
So now you’ve (hopefully) figured out why you’re not reading. Or maybe not; that’s okay too. Either way, here are some things that might help you from there.
Things that might help to overcome the slump:
1. Take a break from reading.
No, seriously. It’s easy for us readers to overestimate ourselves with reading. When this happens, I do other things that I enjoy: watching a movie/show, watching YouTube, drawing, painting, practicing my violin. Anything. Especially if it involves your hands and especially if you’re creating something. Write. Draw. Sing. Go for a walk. Go for a jog. Switch your mind from consuming to projecting out. Sometimes I think we tend to stuff ourselves full with books and are surprised when we’re not hungry for it anymore for a time.
2. Pick up a different book.
I very narrowly escaped a bad reading slump by doing just this. I was not liking the new book I had picked up. It was a contemporary, and I don’t normally pick up that genre so I thought I would try to add a bit more variety. And reading widely is great, but it’s just not what I want to read right now. I want fantasy. So I’m going to keep reading fantasy until I don’t want to anymore.
Some suggestions for books that will get you excited about reading again: read from your favorite genre, re-read an old favorite, or read from one of your favorite authors. Pick up something you know you’re going to love. Don’t be ashamed if you’ve read from the same genre for a month, or are picking a Harry Potter book up for the millionth time; the important thing is that you’re reading, and you’re enjoying yourself. Read widely and diversely, but also indulge in your favorite reading material.
3. Indulge in the things that inspire you to read.
For me, it’s BookTube. I always love watching videos of people talking about books; it makes me want to join in on the wonderful world of books and those who love them. Sometimes what’s given me the reading slump is that I just can’t find any books that currently interest me, so I’ll hop on a book haul video or two for new book recommendations.
Maybe you like written book reviews, maybe you have a few inspiring playlists you like to listen to to put you in the mood. Maybe you need to go to the library or a quiet room or outside to surround yourself with good reading vibes. Whatever it is, surround yourself with things that make you happy and excited to crack open that book.
4. Change up your reading format.
You’d be surprised at how often just picking up an ebook instead of a paper volume (or vice versa) has helped my reading habits when I fell like I’m losing steam. I don’t know why this is, but changing little things like that freshen up the experience. Maybe you just need to turn on an audiobook for once while you do the laundry (see number 1; do something to occupy your hands). I have no idea why this is; maybe some of you know some psychology behind this? XD
5. Above all, don’t stress.
Reading is a pasttime, something we do in our free time. Let me stress that again. Free time. If you’re not enjoying yourself, then it’s no longer freeing. In today’s world, everyone is so busy – with school, with work, with friends and family and a million other responsibilities we have to keep up with. So when you get time to yourself to wind down, cherish it. Stressing yourself on how much (or how little) you’re reading defeats the whole purpose of winding down. So if it’s been a month since you’ve last finished a book, that’s fine. You’ll get back into the swing of things. Soon you’ll pick up a book that just completely grabs you and before you know it you’ll fall in love with reading all over again. And isn’t that the best feeling? When you come back to reading and you feel like you’re falling in love again? Just don’t give up on reading; keep picking up those books and having faith that you’ll fall back into the habit eventually.
Books are a uniquely packaged magic; they transport us and teach us, they guide us and shape our minds and bring people together. But one thing a book is not is a requirement, nor is it an expectation. A book is a special kind of friend; there when you need them, and only that. Your books aren’t going to glare at you on the shelf until you read them. But they will welcome you when you’re ready.
So what about you guys? How do you overcome reading slumps? I’d love to know.
And as always, have a lovely day and I’ll see you again soon 🙂