This has been a crazy year for literally everyone. It’s been hard for so many ways. And I’m sure I’m not the only one whose reading habits were impacted. Why is it that being home all the time makes it more difficult to find the time to read?
I am still coming out of the huge book slump I suffered from earlier this summer. So, today, I thought I’d share some of my best tips for coming out of a book slump mostly unscathed.
Embrace the Slump!
You might think this is counter-intuitive (or that I’m crazy), but hear me out. I have encountered many reading slumps in my life. And, trust me, I have tried many ways to pull myself out of them. Turns out, this is one of the best.
When you’re in a reading slump, you don’t really feel like reading, right? But forcing yourself to read isn’t always the best plan. In my experience, you generally end up enjoying those books less than you would otherwise. If you aren’t in the mood to read, reading feels like a chore. And you run the risk of pushing yourself deeper into the slump and just feeling “meh” about every book you try to read.
So, embrace the slump! Binge-watch a TV show (I highly recommend The Good Place). Play a video game. Take a free online class and learn something new. Watch a ton of true-crime YouTube videos (actually, no don’t do that – I am now very paranoid about the space under my bed). Organize a movie night (virtual or otherwise) with friends. Figure out how to make a really great cup of tea or homemade pasta. Do literally anything but read.
We are allowed to need breaks from things we love. And (I’m assuming since you’re here) we all love reading. But, unfortunately, sometimes we get burnt out. Sometimes out brain just needs a breather. And that’s fine. It happens. Don’t torture your poor brain my reading it to death. Give it a break and do something new! And then come back to reading when you’ve had a nice mental vacation.
Revist an Old Favorite
I bet when you read that, a book popped into your head. The one that makes you remember that feeling of just absolutely loving reading. The one you return to over and over throughout the years. The one that gives you those warm and cozy book feelings. Personally, I always come back to Pride and Prejudice and Neverwhere. Yours can be anything from Winnie the Pooh to Anna Karenina.
It genuinely does not matter what this book is, as long as you love it. Sometimes, we fall into reading slumps where nothing can give you that feeling. And it sucks. But maybe rereading a book that you know will give you that book magic will remind your brain how wonderful that feeling is. It has worked for me several times, and it’s always fun. Bonus, there’s a big chance you probably already have that book on your shelves. So this takes very limited work on your part.
Change Up Your Format
Are you a paperback reader? Ebook? Audiobook? Try switching it up!
True story: a few years ago, I tried to read Less by Andrew Sean Greer. I picked up the ebook and just wasn’t feeling it. At all. I felt myself falling into the reading doldrums. By the time I had decided to quit about a quarter of the way through, it was too late! The reading slump had begun. About a month or so later (during which I struggled to finish pretty much anything), I decided to maybe give it another shot. This time, I started the audiobook. And… I ended up really enjoying it! It honestly pulled me out of my reading slump, and I ended up being really glad I gave it a second chance.
You don’t have to do this with the book that put you in a reading slump in the first place. (Now that I think about it, it doesn’t seem like a great idea.) But switching the format kind of tricks your brain into thinking it’s something different. I don’t think this always works, but it does work a lot. And it’s definitely worth trying.
Personally, I highly recommend trying an audiobook for this method. Because not only is it a very different format from physical books or ebooks, it has the added bonus of keeping your hands free. So you can simultaneously do some of the other things you’ve been enjoying during your slump. I have been listening to a biography of Ulysses S. Grant while playing Animal Crossing. And I love it. Things like knitting or drawing also work. Give it a try, I’m convinced it helps.
Read the First Chapter of All Your Unread Books Until You Find the Right One
This is just one of the many times having a million unread books lying around comes in handy. Pick up your unread books, and just start reading them. Read the first chapter of each one until you find the one that pulls you in. And then read that book.
For me, this kind of feels like a loophole. You are embracing the slump. You are letting the slump decide what you read next, and not forcing yourself to read something you’re not feeling at the moment. It’s kind of like reverse psychology for the reading slump.
You can also combine this with trying a different format. Maybe listen to the first chapter of an audiobook. Or read the first chapter of an ebook. (Tip: a lot of ebooks will give you the first chapter as a sample, so if you don’t have a lot of unread books lying around, that’s a great alternative – and you can just buy or borrow the one you decide to continue.)
Read Something Completely Out of Your Comfort Zone (or Different Than What You’ve Been Reading)
I feel like I’m one of the rare readers who routinely reads things from pretty much every genre. A lot to people tend to stick to their favorites. But – as you may have already noticed – a lot of my tips are about changing things up. So why not really change things up.
If you read mostly fantasy, maybe try some science fiction. Or even romance. Because what if you’re not actually in a reading slump? What if you’re just burnt out on fantasy? You won’t know until you try something else. If it doesn’t work, there are four other tips on this list you can try. But it’s still worth trying.
But really, sometimes when I’m reading a lot of heavier books – like historical fiction or classic literature – it’s really nice to pick up a fun contemporary romance. It’s something new and exciting. It’s a different style, and it generally brings up a different set of emotions. So it doesn’t just feel like more of the same.
I will fully admit that this doesn’t always work, but it is definitely worth trying. Because there have been times where I think I’m in a slump, but really I’m just burnt out from reading sad books and really just need a comedy. It happens to all of us, and I can imagine this might be worse for those of you that stick to one or two genres. Totally fine, but I highly recommend stepping out of your comfort zone once in a while. You never know, you could find out you love reading memoirs!
What do you do when you’re in a reading slump? Do you have any tips or tricks I haven’t mentioned? Share yours in the comments!