How To Get Out of a Reading Slump
And learn something new in the process
I love to read. I love shiny new books; I love book covers (yes, I do choose a book by its cover), and I love the excitement of starting a new book. Lately, when I begin a new book that doesn’t grab me immediately, I find myself putting it down and choosing another book. I used to think that when I didn’t like a book immediately, it’s because the book didn’t grab me from the beginning. Sometimes that is true; however, this last year or so, when I find myself switching books frequently, I know that I’m deep in a reading slump.
A reading slump means different things to different people. Some people say that a reading slump is that they aren’t enjoying the books they are reading. For others, it can mean that there are too many other things on their mind to concentrate and absorb what they are reading. For me, a reading slump means that I can’t seem to finish a book to save my life. No matter the definition or reason, reading slumps are real and can feel so defeating when reading is usually such a joy and a reader’s happy place.
I’ve had several slumps recently, and I’ve discovered a few different ways to alleviate the slump and get me back on the road to enjoying my books again. Maybe some of these suggestions will work for you too.
Have go-to bloggers/Instagramers that have similar reading tastes and that you trust for book recommendations. Search their posts for books to read that you might not have heard about yet. I have a couple of book twins I trust, and neither has steered me wrong yet.
Decision fatigue is real. If you have too many books to chose from, you are likely to choose none at all (raises hand). At the beginning of each week/month, look at your TBR to determine what you might like to read during that time. Choosing a few books ahead of time helps narrow the choice down and leaves room for the occasional shiny new book to catch your eye (raises hand again).
After reading one or more books in a row in the same genre or reading a challenging book, it can help to switch things up and read something entirely different. Some call this a palate cleanser, fluff read, or any number of other names, but it does work to switch it up. A middle-grade or young adult book is my go-to switch-up, and it works more often than not.
Sometimes reading a short book, short stories, or even magazine articles for a few days can open your mind back up to the joy of getting lost in a book. A sense of accomplishment in completing a short book or article works wonders when you have difficulty concentrating on a longer read.
Be open to change and trying new things. Try reading in a new format. If you usually read a paper book, switch to an e-reader, and learn about all the neat functions of the e-reader you are using. If you typically use an e-reader, try a paper book with a pretty bookmark and a book sleeve to carry it in. If you’ve never tried an audiobook, this is a perfect opportunity to do so. Experiment with different things to find out what makes your reading life fun again.
Use a reading challenge to help you research and pick out books to satisfy the challenge prompts. If you are a planner like me, half the fun of a reading challenge is finding several books to fit the prompts, research which book would best satisfy each prompt, and visit bookstores to purchase those books. Such fun!
If you can keep the storylines straight, having more than one book in process at a time may help when a different mood strikes. Some readers have a fiction and non-fiction book going simultaneously, so the storylines don’t get confused. Some readers like to read a comedy/humor book when their mind starts wandering. A funny book might be just what you need as a change of pace if you are used to serious reads.
Pair reading or listening to a book with another activity such as exercise. I like to walk, and I’ve listened to several audiobooks when walking. Readers tell me that they can read a book while walking on a treadmill and if that works for you, great. I’d probably misstep or trip and fall on my face if I tried that, so I’ll stick to walking.
Explore a change of scenery when you read. Something as small as reading outside on the patio or inside in a coffee shop can make all the difference in the world. Some people create reading spaces that draw them in and make them never want to leave, thus creating the perfect reading atmosphere.
Read the next book in a series or start a series that you’ve wanted to read. Often, when you finish one book in a series, you will immediately want to move on to the next book, especially if there is a cliffhanger. After reading a few in the series, you may be ready to read a different kind of book and come back to the series later.
Reading slumps can be difficult, frustrating, and seemingly never-ending. More important than all the tips above is to give yourself permission to NOT finish a book you are not enjoying reading. It could be that it is not the right book for you now, or it could just not be the right book, period. Don’t beat yourself up; find another book and start reading again.
Try one or more of these tips the next time you feel headed for a reading slump and see what works for you. What works one time may not work the next, so be flexible and willing to try new and different things until you are back in your reading happy place.