How to Deal with Reading Slumps

Posted November 23, 2013 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Literature / 16 Comments

I’m currently in a reading slump and about to start another semester of university. This is not a good combination; I don’t want to struggle through my reading while trying to get good grades. This is not the first time I’ve fallen into a slump and I find it so frustrating and stressful. When I finally do break out of a slump, it is so refreshing and I feel so relieved.

So I want to talk about slumps and see if there are other ways to manage and break them. I’ve looked around and have found some peoples hints and maybe I am missing something. We will find out what works for some and open a dialogue about reading slumps here. So here are some suggestions I’ve found.

  • Read something light: I recently tried reading Moon over Soho which was light and enjoyable and made me want to read the next in the series, if I read the next book does that mean my slump is over? What would happen if I try something heavier?
  • Read a favourite genre: This can be problematic because I’m a literary explorer and sometimes not too sure what my favourite genre is. Maybe it’s hard-boiled crime but this sounds similar to reading something light, assuming they are talking about reading genre fiction.
  • Try something short: Short stories, novellas and short books might work, this way you are not spending too much time in a story and feel like we are making progress. I’m not sure if this works, I’ve never tried it.
  • Recommendations: I’m really don’t think this will work, I’ve got plenty of books recommended to me sitting on my TBR just waiting to be read.
  • Take a break: While this might be the answer, the idea of not reading at all does not appeal to me.
  • Revisit a favourite book: This could work; I do need to reread Frankenstein for this semester of university, so if I break that out now and start reading it, will I get out of the slump? At least I know the book is great.
  • Make time: I’m not sure this would work, this feels like forcing myself to read when I struggle. The stress is already there and being forced to read doesn’t sound like a way to reduce stress.
  • Read a classic: This could work, classics are normally great books, so reduces the likelihood of reading a dud.
  • Try non-fiction: Someone suggested trying some non-fiction as a way to break the slump, instead of looking for a great novel to break the slump, maybe learning something new might help. This is a suggestion from my local indie bookstore, so I’ve been trying it out.
  • Put all books on hold and just read whatever looks appealing: This is what I’m trying at the moment, I had a few books on the go and they have now been put aside and I am just picking up a book that looks appealing. I’m willing to put it aside if it’s not working but at the moment I’m trying to work my way through The Martian and NW.

Now I’ve talked about solutions, I want to see if I can work out the root cause. Is there a way to avoid this in the future? I don’t think so, sometimes life gets in the way or you read too many below average books at a time. For me, I think what caused my slump this time was the fact I read some great books like The Bell Jar and If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler followed by some books that I felt were less than average; The Tale for a Time Being and Harvest, followed by some novels I needed to finish in a limited amount of time (due back to the library or for book club).

I don’t think I can avoid average or bad books, but I should try and be better with abandoning books. I’ve never been good at quitting a book, but I’m getting to a point in my reading career where I feel like I now have a good baseline for judging books. I don’t want to fall into a slump again, and now I know the signs of it coming on maybe I can avoid it. How do others manage slumps and try to avoid them altogether.

16 responses to “How to Deal with Reading Slumps

  1. I rarely have reading slumps – if I am Ill or deeply unhappy I may go off reading, or not feel like reading. This is when I turn to my childhood favourites. Out comes The Secret Garden, The Little White Horse, the little house series and my Famous Five Collection. These soothe my soul and let me gradually find my way back onto fluffy reads and then more meatier ones.

  2. Karen

    Fortunately i have not experienced this issue (crossing fingers that comment doesn’t jinx me). I would have said ‘read something short’ also. Not sure about the idea of reading Frankenstein to get you back in the groove – if its a course book then reading it wouldn’t be the pleasure i want from reading.

  3. Mary MK

    I think my slumps are caused by reading great books that i don’t want to move on from, so i just don’t read anything else, so i can still pretend i’m part of that world.

  4. Mish

    I went though a reading slump this year when there were a lot of things going on in my personal life. I tried to force myself to read but it was beginning to feel like a chore. I just had to put books and reading aside and wait till things calmed down. Once they did, I got back into it and felt like old self again.

    Do you have a lot going on in your personal life at the moment?

  5. I’ve been in a recent slump as well and I think it’s because I feel as if I’m meeting deadlines set by others’ books coming out on such and such a date, or the book tour I signed on to participate in, or that I’m reading something I committed to review and it’s not very interesting but not bad enough to call of the commitment. I think all of the suggestions you’ve listed are good ones for working against a slump, but some of them wouldn’t work for me, like finding another genre. I too am not sure what mine is!

  6. BronaDragonfly

    I think the trick is to work out what your pattern is.
    I know that when I’m busy or stressed, have just finished an amazing book or have read a run of average books (usually because of a work related deadlines) that I will experience a “reading slump”.
    As soon as that flagging desire feeling seeps in, I grab a comfort read (at the moment it would be the next book in the Maisie Dobbs series or my old faithful friend Jane Austen).

    Only once did Jane Austen not work her magic on me, but I was going through a particularly horrendous roller-coaster time. That was the only time I didn’t read anything except the newspaper for 2 weeks. It took Little Women – a childhood favourite – to finally get me out of that one!

    Good luck with your change of pace. It’s not a slump; it’s a mini-break 🙂

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