Five Ways to Break Out of a Reading Slump

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It seems that I stumble into reading ennui at least four or five times a year. I hate feeling disconnected from books and stories, but I’ve learned to accept these occasional lapses. Here are some ways that I (and other readers I know) get through the slumps:

1. Don’t Panic. – We all go through ups and downs in our reading and there are peaks and valleys in our interest and time commitments. When you find yourself in a reading funk it’s best to accept it as a normal part of the reading cycle and not as a permanent state. If you panic it might take you longer to get back into your routine.

2. Read something completely different from what you normally read.  A few months ago I was desperate to break out of a slump and nothing was working. I tried and quit dozens of books and was at my wit’s end. The only way I was able to jump-start my reading again was to read a true crime novel about Jodi Arias which is completely out of my normal range of interests. After I finished it my brain was ready to read my usual fare again. Next time you find yourself in a slump why not try a western, a thriller, a romance, a horror novel – any genre you usually don’t read.

3. Try an old favorite.  Now this option doesn’t work for me very well because I dislike re-reading, but many people find this to be a solution to the slump. It might help you to revisit a childhood favorite or a book you loved as a teen the next time you find yourself dissatisfied with your regular reading diet.

4. Make a list and stick to it. I find this strategy to be very effective, but I know it would drive some readers crazy. When my brain won’t focus and reading becomes a struggle I make a list of books I want to read and I don’t waver from it. I read the books in order and resist making substitutions – it has saved me time and again from falling into an extended funk.

5. Give in. If all else fails, give in. Watch TV, play games on your phone, play with your dog, rearrange your cupboards, bake a cake – do everything but read. Sometimes the more you try, the more frustrated you become so I’ve learned to just let it ride. Experience has taught me that I will eventually be ready to read again and I’ll get other things done in the meantime.

Tell me – what do you do to break out of a reading slump?

17 comments / Add your comment below

  1. I have fallen into reading slumps over the years, and they have been a bummer, and I STILL don’t know how to break out of them. I don’t remember how my past self got past them — I guess just by powering on through? And being a bit sad that all the books were lame for a while? — and I have no idea how I’m going to break any future ones I may have. I like your suggestions though!

    1. I suppose we all have to come up with our own strategies for dealing with the slumps (or not dealing with them). I’ve gone through times when I made myself crazy trying to get my rhythm back so I understand your sadness. I hope you can find ways to deal with the next slump that comes around!

    1. Is it because with re-reading you already know the outcome of the story and are able to enjoy the writing or the little details you missed before?

  2. For me it is reading easy books. Cosy crime, slushy romance, nice stories where boy gets girl and good overcomes evil. Then I somehow just pick up other books in between them and I am then reading more challenging works or ones that are not normally my cup of tea!

    1. The list making trick works for me because I need discipline for my reading sometimes or I am all over the place and that leads to a slump – it really makes you knuckle down and be focused.

  3. Great tips. My personal favorite is to go on a Netflix binge. Usually after watching hours and hours of The Killing or something similar I’m ready for a good old book.

  4. I like 1 and 5 (I’m just now learning to do 5) but 2 and 3 I’m always forgetting. I think forgetting books for the time being and catching up on other interests is a good idea. It both gets you away from the ‘issue’ but keeps your mind ticking over.

  5. This is such good advice! That #2 on the list is a really, really good suggestion, something I’d never thought of. I tend to turn really helpless and melodramatic when I can’t find a good book to read, i.e. “What if I never find a good book again? What’s the point of even living?” I just mope around the house until my boyfriend gets annoyed and demands that I find a book RIGHT NOW. Sigh…it’s a wonderful thing to be understood so well.

    1. Haha! I think we all know exactly how you feel. It is the most ‘end of the world’ agony ever. #2 is something I just discovered and it saved me.

Thank you for reading and commenting.

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