I have a confession to make. For the past few weeks, I’ve been in the midst of a reading slump. The dreaded reading slump is something we readers succumb to periodically, and everyone seems to experience and combat it in different ways. For a mood reader like me, a reading slump often means I can’t make up my mind what I want to read, and I end up hopping between anywhere from two to six books or more. I’ll read 20 or so pages in one book and jump to another to read about the same amount. For others, a reading slump may mean not reading anything at all for weeks at a time.
Regardless of the reason or form a reading slump takes, many readers often talk about how frustrated they feel while experiencing one. It’s difficult to feel like you can’t enjoy reading and to feel anxiety from trying to figure out how to recapture that reading spark. So, I thought what better time to talk about ways I get out of a reading slump than when I’m in the middle of one myself. Here are some things I try, or try to remind myself of, to get out of reading slumps.
1. Don’t be afraid to not finish a book
A lot of readers call this DNFing (Did Not Finish) a book, and I think we need to get rid of the negative connotation this can have in the book community. Life is too short to read books you aren’t enjoying. It doesn’t mean you can’t come back to it later if you can see yourself enjoying it then. Also, not every book is for everyone. Maybe you just don’t enjoy the writing style or the tropes or are not the intended audience of the book. It doesn’t matter what reasons you have for DNFing a book. Move on to something new until you enjoy what you’re reading.
2. Re-read some old favorites
I do this all the time. Some might say I do this too much, and I should be reading new books. However, we read as a way to escape and experience wonderful stories and to enjoy ourselves. It doesn’t matter if you read something old or new. I often find that after re-reading an old favorite I feel like reading new books more. Something about finishing a book really motivates me to read others. It’s always easier for me to re-read something I know I will enjoy. Maybe this will help you too.
3. Read something totally new
Fantasy and sci-fi are two of my favorite fiction genres to read. However, there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. I find that reading too much exclusively in one genre can put me in a reading slump. So, maybe the same has happened to you! Try reading from another genre you enjoy or try reading something from a totally new genre. I’m always trying to branch out into more genres and sub-genres. Being in a reading slump is the perfect excuse to try something new.
4. Throw out your TBR
Just throw the whole TBR (To Be Read list) out! Toss it and start over, or just don’t use a TBR for a few weeks. Give in to your mood reading urges and stop feeling guilty about it. I admit this is very hard to do, especially if you’re like me. I like to plan everything even if I don’t always stick to those plans. Something about getting what’s in my head down on paper or typed up eases my mind a bit. However, I will scrap my list in a heartbeat if feeling obligated to stick to it gives me anxiety. As a wise meme once said, “Ain’t nobody got time for that!”
5. Read short form fiction
Sometimes we need a quick boost and feeling of accomplishment to push through a reading slump. One way to do this is to read short form fiction, like novellas, novelettes, and short stories. These can come from print magazines, digital reading journals, or even websites (my favorite is Tor.com). Not only are these easy to finish, usually takes less than an hour to read most short stories, but doing this can also introduce you to new authors and genres quickly. It’s a win-win in my opinion, and I recommend looking at publisher blogs like Tor’s and Orbit’s book sample page. You can also find some good stuff by searching for award nominees like Hugo short story nominations from past years. Go nuts, and kick that reading slump to the curb.
Well, those are some of the things I do the help me escape reading slumps. I hope trying one or all of these helps you too. It’s important to remember that nothing is wrong with you if you don’t enjoy what you’re reading. Maybe you should stop reading and enjoy another hobby for a bit. Reading should be relaxing and fun, in my opinion, so try to remember that instead of feeling bad about needing to step away from it for a bit.
Have you tried any of these? What strategies do you have for combatting reading slumps? Let me know in the comments!