We’ve all hit a wall at some point in our reading lives, right?
Sometimes a book is so good it’s impossible to follow up. Sometimes, a book is so bad we forget that reading is fun. Sometimes a book is good but I’m not in the mood to read it and now I’m 139 pages in and I refuse to put it down because no really, it’s very good, I just don’t want to read it right this second, but I will tomorrow hopefully, or maybe the next day.
My point is that there are any number of reasons you might find yourself struggling to pick up any book at all.
As booksellers we really understand the anguish of being unable to focus on reading. It’s our job to be on top of what’s coming out so we can recommend the good stuff to all of you. For the most part, we love being a reading resource, so when we’re struggling to read the pressure is on.
Luckily that also means that we’ve tried out many strategies to solve our reading slump woes. I spoke to some of my coworkers and formulated some steps to take if you find yourself slumping.
1. Start with a palette cleanser. Before the certainty that you’re really stuck sets in, pick up a palette cleanser. Preferably something irresistible that’ll shock your system before you get really settled into the not-reading rut. Danielle, our resident Romance expert, says she prefers YA for this, but for you it might be something else, maybe a cozy mystery, or a domestic thriller. Just make sure it’s un-put-downable. Ideally, it’ll be something easy to fly through, something you don’t have to think too hard about.
Often that’s enough! Find yourself the most fun book you can, make yourself a cup of your favorite beverage, and hopefully in a few hours you won’t even remember being stuck. But if that doesn’t work, move on to step two.
2. Read a win. Okay, so the fun book didn’t work – that’s okay. Take a look at your stack of to-be-read books. In that stack, I’m willing to bet you have a book or two that you just know you’re going to love, and you’re waiting for the perfect time to read it.
Now is the perfect time to read it. Put down the book you’re currently reading – I don’t care how good it is, if it’s that good you can pick it up later. You don’t have to wait to have nice things, you can have the nice thing right now.
For those of you who aren’t sitting on a future five star read though, bookseller Sarah C recommends re-reading an old favorite. She just reread Jurassic Park and it was just the thing to remind her how much she loves books. Sometimes you just need a win!
3. Change the format. If we’re at this point it’s time to start shaking things up. You’re gonna grab something not for the premise but for the format. You want something short that you can tear through quickly – novellas for example, or poetry. Graphica works great for this, too – something with a low word count that’s gonna keep reading in your day, but you don’t have to commit long term to anything.
Or, if you don’t care about word count, bookseller Sarah B suggests trying fanfiction! You’ll be 500,000 words deep into a slow burn coffee shop au with your favorite characters before you know it.
4. Hate read something. Listen, sometimes it’s the only way. None of my fellow booksellers brought this up when I asked them about their book slump solutions, but if you’re a bitter person like I am, there’s probably a kind of book that you love to hate. It’s time to embrace the inner hater. You want something truly laughable, something you can really bask in. Become the petty, sarcastic reviewer that lives within you and let spite carry you through.
5. Rely on audiobooks. If you’re already primarily reading audiobooks, this won’t apply to you, but if you’re a person who primarily reads physical books, or who balances audiobooks with print, and if not even hate reading can pull you out of your book slump, it might be time to let audiobooks take the wheel.
I pair them with something else that I want or need to do – laundry, or cooking dinner, or Stardew Valley, for example. I know for many of us, reading is about curling up with a book and turning pages, and if that’s something you value, great! But you’re in a reading slump, and if you’ve tried the previous four steps and gotten nowhere, it’s a bad one. It’s time to relax, and let someone else read to you for a while.
6. Write about it. Alright, if not even audiobooks are doing the trick, it’s time to turn inwards. Bookseller Rosa recommends sitting down with a pen and one of the ten thousand empty journals I know you have around your house. Start writing and don’t stop until you get to the bottom of this thing. Is there something you need that you’re not getting? Is it time to start growing into new subjects or genres? Are you dealing with the book hangover from hell? Do you even want to keep reading this much? Ask yourself the questions, and maybe you’ll find a solution.
7. Give up. Give up! Who cares! There’s no prize for reading 400 books a year. Binge watch something you’ve been meaning to watch. Reading is just a hobby! Do something else for a while, and before you know it you’ll be ready to pick something up again.