The scene: I have the day off, and I’m super excited because it means I have the whole day to read. I’ve just finished a book I enjoyed, but it wasn’t one of those where I’m still stuck in the world. I feel like I’m ready to move onto the next one because it’s one I’ve been waiting on.
I pick up the book. I read 4 pages. I put the book back down. I pick up a different one. I read 7 pages of that one. I put that one back down. And repeat for 4 books. I give up.
The infernal book slump. I think we’ve all been there before as bookworms. That feeling where no matter what you try to read, nothing’s making the cut. It’s infuriating, especially when you have nothing else slated for the day. It’s really a tragedy beyond belief.
So we’ve acknowledged the issue. What now?
Well folks, I’m not an expert. I’m fortunate that I very rarely hit a book slump. However, this is also a double-edged sword because it also makes it all the more frustrating (as if it isn’t already bad enough on its own.) Still, it happens to the best of us and there really isn’t a whole lot you can do except let it run its course. But there are steps we can take to try and speed it up. Here are my tactics for overcoming the slump.
1. Binge watch some Netflix
You can ask anyone who knows me and they’ll tell you that I do not watch tv. This is largely a result of my reading habits: I’d rather read for 2 hours and make a significant dent in whatever book I’m reading than absorb 2 episodes of a show. However, book slumps bring out my inner Netflix junkie: they’re the only time I actually have the attention span to watch 6 straight hours of tv. For me, it works because it’s a different form of narrative media. I still get a story, but I don’t have to put in the effort to read. Even if you don’t want a story, reality or competition shows are a great way to try to beat back that slump. During my last slump a few weeks ago, I wanted a story, so I binged Troy: Fall of a City, which was perfect because it gave me all sorts of Song of Achilles feels all over again and made me want to invest in characters again. During this current slump, I’m watching the second season of World of Dance, because I really do not want to follow a story. I’d rather just watch some amazing dancers and be awestruck by them. It’s all about the mood.
2. Take a Nap
Okay, if we’re being fair, naps are my solutions to everything, so it’s not specific to book slumps or even maybe the rest of the human population. I just really like sleeping and I’m usually very tired. With some more logical reasoning, shutting your brain off for an hour or two may give you a refresh that makes it easier to pick up a book. It could just be that you’re tired and so your attention span has subsided significantly. Also, it’s the human version “have you tried turning it off and back on again,” so really it’s bound to fix something, right? And even if you wake up and still don’t feel like reading, at least you took a nap, so it’s really win-win here.
3. Try an Audiobook
This is not an Abigail-approved solution, but I have heard a lot of people say that it’s easier for them to start a new book if they’re not actually reading it. I am 100% not an audiobook person (my aural attention span is like non-existent)(it makes lecture-heavy classes The Worst™), but since others say that it works for them, I’m including it here. Also, it does make sense that switching how you’re exposed to the book helps, since it’s a bit more interactive and expressive. It’s kind of like a halfway point between reading and watching tv, so it follows those same rules.
4. Reread a Favorite
So this one is actually also not Abigail-approved since I have reread a total of one (1) book for fun. I don’t know why, but I just am the worst at rereading stuff. I think I like to be surprised and exposed to new things, so rereading just isn’t typically as exciting to me. However, when I hit a slump last summer, I randomly decided to reread The Night Circus. It cured my slump and reminded me just how much I adore that book and why it is one of my favorites. I can see why returning to a beloved world makes it easier to read new stuff again.
Can you tell where this post is coming? As mentioned previously, I’m mid-slump as I write this. Rather than just sit around and be sad that I couldn’t read, I turned it into something creative and productive. I also feel a lot better brainstorming what I can do to get over it; it reminds me of what has worked in the past and what others have recommended to me to move past it. Don’t feel like blogging? That’s fine too! I haven’t written much fiction recently (I really need to get back into it, so any tips for that are appreciated as well), but in the past, every time I finished an amazing book, I was inspired to write my own work. It eliminated the potential of a post-phenomenal read slump since I gave myself time to process the book I had just read. Really, just doing something creative always helps me in a slump.
Hear me out on this one: it is so much more satisfying to sit back and relax after you’ve done something beneficial. Every time I’m in a weird mood, including in a book slump (because let’s face it, that’s a weird mood for a reader), I clean my room. For me, putting myself in a completely different and straightforward headspace makes it easier to jump into a book. Maybe it’s the sense of accomplishment, maybe it’s the feeling of being in a “new” space, but it just really works for me. When it’s really bad, I’ll even go so far as to reorganize, and I find that those times always improve my reading attitude the most. I would, however, personally suggest that you do not reorganize your shelves when you do this. Sure, go ahead and give them a quick dusting (because, let’s face it, they probably need it), but I always find that going through my books just makes me feel guilty about not reading. Maybe redoing your shelves makes you more excited about books, in which case, yes, definitely reorganize your shelves. It’s really about what works best for you.
7. Try Something New
During my last slump, I asked bookstagram for tips on overcoming it. I didn’t get many responses, but the best one was to try a new genre. I find that this doesn’t always work for me personally, but it’s effective often enough that I think it’s good advice. I’m a big fantasy person, but picking up a light contemporary romance usually resets my mind so that I can pick up that fantasy novel that’s been on my TBR for months. I’m a very picky sci-fi reader, but I found the other day that The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy was a great book to pick up. Unfortunately, I finished it and just went back into a slump, but I did read something, and I think that says something about this tip. Maybe for you it’s picking up a poetry collection or a memoir or a classic, but sometimes you just have to try something you don’t usually.
8. Wait it Out
This is a bit of a non-solution solution, but sometimes you do just have to let a book slump run its course. I don’t think I’ve ever heard of someone being stuck in a slump for so long that they never read another book ever again, so I think you’re safe just waiting a couple days for it to play out. Distance makes the heart grow fonder, and I usually find that if nothing else works, I can just give it a couple days for me to miss books enough that it’s no problem picking one up again. Yeah, it sucks at the time because you’re not reading and you feel like a fake reader and you have this sense of imposter syndrome where you’re thinking, “oh my god, am I even a real reader, what if I never enjoy reading again and then I have to redefine myself and … what was I talking about again? Clearly you can see the rabbit hole of thoughts, but none of them are true. Like I said before, it happens to everyone, and I highly doubt you’ll be in a book slump for the rest of your life. Some things just need time. And that’s okay.
Reading slumps happen to the best of us. Everyone has their own means of getting past them, but I hope maybe some of my tricks work for you as well. Sometimes they’ll work, sometimes they won’t. Every situation is different, which also makes finding new ways to overcome it exciting.
What are your best ways of beating the book slump? What ways do not work for you?