You have been for a while, and there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of hope that things will get on an upswing anytime soon. In fact, if it’s anything like my experiences, it will get worse, and worse, and worse, and . . . worse.
If you’re just starting to get into reading (perhaps because you’ve been reading my posts on this subject!), I guarantee you you’ll feel frustrated the first time you lapse into the dreaded beast that is the Reading Slump. There’s a feeling that comes along with the Reading Slump that it will never, ever end. In fact, the Slump (or so your brain tells you) will get so bad that you’ll give up on reading altogether.
I have gone through so many reading slumps, major and minor, that sometimes I wonder if my entire time as a reader has been one big slump, which wouldn’t make a whole lot of sense. Despite this, I’m still reading today, and, really, each time I go through a speed bump with reading, it just gives me more energy to pursue reading even more.
On the flip side, unfortunately, I don’t have a magic cure-all for getting out of a reading slump. If it were that easy, I don’t think reading slumps would even exist, much less be problematic enough to deserve blog posts like this one. However, I have, over the months, fine-tuned some goals you can use to alleviate a reading slump and get back on track with that big ol’ to-be-read pile you want to get through pain-free.
-Put down any book that you aren’t enjoying. I mentioned this back in March, but here it is again: you don’t have to read every book you pick up all the way to the end. In fact, chances are, a decent fraction of your attempted reads will end up being unfinished. This might sound scary, but, if my experiences are anything to go by, it’s actually a much better bet to put a book down then try to finish it if you’re not liking it. Slogging through book after book that you don’t like is one of the biggest Reading Slump triggers out there.
-Redefine your reading goals. Let’s say you like to read 45 pages a day. Or even the 100-page-a-day challenge I brought up several weeks ago here. Then, for whatever reason, you don’t meet that goal one day. Then the next, and the next . . . and pretty soon you’re down to reading just a few pages. Fun fact: this has happened to me more than once. What helps is to rethink and redefine your reading. Don’t focus on hitting a lofty number. Instead, celebrate each page that you read—and, of course, enjoy the story in front of you.
-Make a detour to books you’ve read and loved in the past! I keep certain books I own in reserve for those occasions where I’m in such a reading rut that I need a favorite classic to ignite the reading spark in me again. Right now, that in-reserve book is Rick Perlstein’s fantastic The Invisible Bridge, which means I’ll never have to worry about a reading slump throwing me off my goals for quite a while.
-Consider switching genres. In the near-future I’ll dedicate a post solely to the subject of sticking to one genre vs. many genres. For now, just know that it’s understandable if you get burned out from reading too many books in the same genre or even sub-genre. Literary fiction has always been my constant reading companion over the years, but that hasn’t prevented “pit stops” to get out of a reading slump into the realms of science fiction (The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy), crime (In Cold Blood), and fantasy (the entire Harry Potter series).
-Or even switch formats! I haven’t tried this yet, but the next time I’m in a reading slump–and the way I am, that probably isn’t too far down the road–I’ll consider jumping out of novels and diving into the vast oceans of poetry, short stories, and nonfiction. Short story collections are amazing because, if done well, they can pack in all the excitement and literary daring of a novel many times over, which should help recharge your reading batteries.
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