Reading slumps… they happen to the best of us. Even the most dedicated and diligent of readers can find themselves facing the dreaded moment when the words on the page simply fail to captivate them and when picking up a book feels like a 50 pound weight. As professional readers, we’ve come up with a few tactics that can help to break even the most stubborn of reading slumps.
Reorganize your shelves
Perhaps you have your TBR (to be read) shelf immaculately organized or maybe you have books everywhere from the basement to the attic, either way, taking a look at the books in your own possession can help break a slump. Flip through your titles, set them in order, and you might just find a volume that sounds so excellent you have to stop what you’re doing and read.
Maybe this means returning to your favorite genre for solace or perhaps it means breaking free of your beloved genre for a taste of something new. When reading grows tiresome, a switch in theme and style can be the exact palate cleanser you need to get back in the groove.
Try a novella
Or a short story collection or book of poetry. Stop trying to half-heartedly slog through The Goldfinch if you’re really not feeling it and take on a shorter challenge, it could be just what you need. Mid-slump, the page count can be the most intimidating part of the reading process. So save the longer reads for a time you’re ready to tackle them.
Set the mood
Sometimes all you need is a little reading foreplay. Light candles, brew tea, curl up under the warmest blanket you can find and settle in for a night of reading.
Trust your old-standbys
Love J.K. Rowling but never read Robert Galbraith? Obsessed with Neil Gaiman but haven’t gotten around to reading Trigger Warning yet? There is a chance you have not read the entirety of your favorite author’s works. Picking up something you know you’ll love can help reignite your reading fire.
Speaking of trusting what you know, a great solution can simply be to return to an old favorite. Whether you read it recently or haven’t picked it up in years, a beloved book can be the perfect place to start.
You read that right. I dare you to watch The Jane Austen Book Club without wanting to pick up Pride & Prejudice, or to watch Reese Witherspoon in Wild without also wanting to pick up Cheryl Strayed’s memoir. A literary movie or TV show works wonders at inspiring book-loving feelings.
Set a goal
The start of 2015 brought with it many readers’ plans for their reading schedule for the next year. Some want to read 100 books, others aim for more classics, some to hit the books they neglected to read in 2014. We’re well into the year, but it isn’t too late to set a reading objective of your own that’ll encourage you.
Go to a book event
Bookstores, coffeehouses, and even performance spaces host authors all of the time. Get into the mood to read by checking out your local literary scene and indulging in a few hours of bookish discussion.
Start a book club
A little moral support can go a long way. Book clubs are great because they can introduce you to genres and authors you may not have otherwise read, they involve deadlines which can motivate you to read, and they center entirely around the discussion and love of literature. And there’s usually wine, so that doesn’t hurt.
Check out the reviews
Kirkus, New York Times, Goodreads, take your pick and get to reading… reviews that is. It can be fun to join the conversation and read a book that’s getting a lot of attention, plus picking a book with rave reviews is likely to mean you’ll enjoy it.
Take a break
As the Spice Girls famously sang, “too much of something is bad enough.” Why make it worse by forcing it? Sometimes, you really do just need a break from the written word. Tell your books, “it’s not you, it’s me” and give yourself some much needed space. Take the time to indulge in something you currently do feel passionate about and come back to books when you’re ready.
Ask for help
Local librarians, indie bookstore owners, and close friends are great resources when you need to find something new to read. Ask them what book or author they’re an evangelist for because you’re sure to be in for a passionate response that will spark your desire to read and could give you an excellent book.
For those of you currently struggling, here are some picks from our editors of books that can bust your reading slump: