Tried and True Strategies For Breaking A Reading Slump
Michaela here, and I am coming to you fresh off the worst reading slump I've had all year. I'm sure most of you have been through slumps; that awful feeling of not being able to focus on any books and feeling generally uninspired to read. It's a sickness of the worst kind for avid readers.
We've talked before about embracing a reading slump, and while I was perfectly happy to lean in to it for a while, after several weeks I was starting to just feel really frustrating and miserable. I wanted to read all the books, but I just could not focus. Last month I ended up only reading 2 real books, plus a bunch of graphic novels, which were great because they were firmly outside of my normal wheelhouse while being quick and easy to consume. The visual element seemed to ease my focus issues, but mostly it was knowing I could finish one in 40 minutes flat. Longer books still felt impossible.
Interestingly, when I asked for tips for breaking this streak over on Instagram, I got dozens of replies (thank you all!), and almost every one of them referenced the fact that slumps are a result of feeling generally emotionally off-kilter, which is so true. Personally, I really struggle with winters here in the PNW and I think my dread of the coming darkness just threw me all off. I did see a great post about planning to be excited about winter, and I think I need to really try my best to embrace that mentality this year.
But. Winter blues aside, there was a general consensus about slump-breaking tactics in everyone's encouraging messages:
- Re-read a favorite novel, especially if it's one you find comforting or is "easy".
- Switch formats and fire up an audiobook.
- Get yourself an Agatha Christie novel.
- Throw out your TBR or reading plans or obligations completely and just pick up a book you are genuinely excited about. One person even said ignore the piles of unread books and buy something fresh you can't wait to read right this minute.
- Try to just sit down and plow through a few chapters to get going and get over the hump of starting a new book.
- Practice lots of self-care!
Initially I thought I was gonna head to a re-read of Harry Potter to try and clear my brain, but realized after talking it out with some of you, that what I really needed was to toss out my TBR and everything I felt I "should" be reading. I also needed to be honest with myself about what I needed to read right now; what I felt especially drawn to in this exact moment.
I tend to do this silly thing where I put off finishing books or series that I really love, because I don't want them to be over. I stopped after the second book of Elena Ferrante's Neopolitan Novels a couple months ago and they've been straight up haunting me ever since. I finally got myself the third one, made a hot mug of tea, put on a hydrating face mask, then sat down and read. I flew through 135 pages before I even looked up. My tea got cold. My mask was left on too long. Success! Slump broken.
This morning I feel the familiar pull to the pages, the characters clamoring in my head and demanding that I return to them as soon as possible. That block in my brain has cleared and the excitement has come flooding back for the other books waiting for me on my shelves, which brings such a delicious feeling of relief. Imagine angels singing; that's basically the inside of my brain right now.
Goodbye slump, and good riddance!
What do you do to break yourself out of a reading slump? I'd love to hear!