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How to Cure a Reading Slump

Confession: I haven’t read anything in a week.

That might not be notable for most people, but for me it’s huge. A whole week without reading? It’s almost absurd. As a librarian, it’s not only my favorite hobby, but it’s also something I feel I must do to be effective in my job. I work with middle and high school students, so I mostly read middle grade and young adult novels which are, for the most part, really fast and fun to read.

Where did I go wrong? Why the slump? Sometimes a slump comes out of nowhere and has no real cause you can point at. More often than not, though, there’s a reason you’re not picking up a book or magazine. Here are the most common causes of a reading slump and what you can do about them.

1 – You’re not in the mood for your current book.
Look… maybe it got good reviews or your best friend begged you to read it. It might even be really well-written… but you just can’t bring yourself to find the time to read it. At the end of the day you choose the television or an extra hour of sleep rather than cracking open the book. Why? It could be you’re just not in the mood for that type of book at the moment. Put on your introspection hat for a moment. What genre is this book? And now, when you go to the tv instead, what type of show are you turning to? Maybe your life is stressful right now and you’re looking for some escapism while the book is just dragging you down. Or maybe you really want to read a romance novel but are trying to force yourself to read something more literary.

When this happens, you must give up the book. I know there’s a lot of pressure sometimes, but you are allowed to simply walk away from a book. Tell your friend you just couldn’t get into it and move on with your life. You may find that you go back to that book in the months or years ahead and find you like it, but right now it is not what you need. Grab something short and fun, and don’t let anyone make you feel guilty about it!

2 – You’re too busy to read
Pretty self-explanatory. You are running from one thing to the next and cannot possibly find time in your schedule to read. Right?

I’m going to be mean here, but you’re wrong. You are never too busy to read! Find a really great book of short stories or a book with really short chapters so you can sneak in a snippet when you find yourself waiting for someone or something. Also, don’t get hung up on books. Walk through the magazine aisle of your favorite store and grab whatever jumps out at you. Sometimes changing the format can really help you get back into reading. Download an audiobook and listen in the car, or have your next book loaded up on your phone. Sure, you might just have time to read a page or two here and there as you race through your busy day, but it all adds up and you’ll find it adds a calming effect to your stressful life.

3 – Someone is making you read it
This is the worst. Whether you’re in school and it is assigned reading or if, as mentioned above, someone in your life gave you a book and you are now expected to read and enjoy it.

Can I say it again? This is the worst. Even if it ends up being a great book, I still feel so much loathing for an assigned book and a lot of resentment toward the person making me read it. If you don’t really have to read it, you can put it away or give it back to the person who loaned it to you and simply tell them it wasn’t right for you. If you do need to read it, I find something that really helps me out is asking someone to read it with me. I always read my son’s summer reading assignments with him so at least we’re in this together. With a child, you can take turns reading it allowed and that can make the book seem like it goes faster. There’s also just something about shared suffering that makes things better. Ask your best friend or your significant other to “hate read” something with you. Call them each evening and complain about how awful it is. Make inside jokes about the ridiculous characters… whatever you need to do to get by!

4 – You can’t find anything good to read.
We’ve all had this happen when it seems like we’ve read all the books in the world–nothing’s new, nothing’s interesting–it’s hopeless.

Nope! Not hopeless at all. What you need is to head to the library or book store. Don’t go with any sort of expectations or with any pressure on yourself… just browse! If something looks interesting, read the summary. If you just find yourself wandering aimlessly, ask someone who works there for a suggestion. If you let them know things you’ve enjoyed and things you dislike, they’ll have some great ideas for you. If you are stuck at home and unable to get to a library or bookstore, you have a couple of options. Re-arrange your own bookshelves. I bet you’ll run into something you’ve been meaning to read forever but haven’t yet. Another great option is to turn to the booktubers on YouTube. Watch a random video or try one of their “if you liked this, try that” type of videos. I often find they talk about a lot of my old favorites but then they’ll throw in something I’ve never even heard of and I immediately have to go out and get a copy.

Hope this helps! Book slumps are real but they don’t have to last long!

Happy reading!

Photo by Hutomo Abrianto on Unsplash

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