Breaking into Books #5 – Overcoming reading slumps

Breaking Into Books is an ongoing series I post every other Sunday with tips and advice for new readers. Last time, I shared tips for making bookish friends. Today’s post is the final one in the series and I’ll be discussing how to overcome reading slumps and maintain momentum with reading ðŸ“š

Whether you’re a brand new reader, a reader returning to books after a break or an experienced reader, reading slumps are a universal problem that all readers face. A reading slump is a loss of motivation to read and often involves procrastinating reading, attempting to read but being unable to enjoy it and generally feeling meh about reading. Reading slumps can last days, weeks, months or even years. As with anything else, prevention is a better solution but in my experience it’s impossible to avoid a reading slump especially in the early days of reading.

Reading slumps are irritating, can suck the joy out of reading and hinder your progress as a reader. Although the number of books you read shouldn’t be your priority, the fun factor should and slumps completely drain any fun you’d usually get from reading. Slumps can creep up on you slowly or can hit you hard and fast without any warning and a lot of things can cause them; low mood, mental health struggles, stress, work commitments, family commitments, having a busy schedule, a negative reading experience with a previous book, tiredness and the list continues. Luckily, there are some relatively straightforward solutions to overcoming reading slumps which you can easily implement into your reading routine.

1. Read in short bursts

If you’re in the middle of a slump the chances are that you don’t mentally have the focus or motivation to read for long stints, so set realistic goals to read for short bursts. This makes reading more mangageable and less intimidating. Set a timer for 15, 20 or 30 minutes and read for that set amount of time. If you find that you’re enjoying reading and want to carry on great, but if not, stop after the timer pings and put the book aside until the next time you read.

2. Choose the right book

Now this probably sounds like an obvious tip, but I’ve lost count of the amount of times I fell into a slump because I was consistently choosing books to read that I wasn’t enjoying. Deciding what to read can make or break your reading journey and be the cause or cure for reading slumps. When you’re first starting out, there’s a lot of trial and error in choosing the right books, so slumps are usually more common. You can check out the second post in the Breaking into Books series about finding the right genre for you, if you haven’t already, which should help with choosing the right book. Other ways to choose the right book is to use sites like StoryGraph which generate book recommendations based on your preferences and mood.

When you’re in a slump taking some time to think about what you want from the book you read is so important. If you’re in a slump because you just read a 1000 page book which was a slog to get through, maybe a short story is the way to go. If you’re in a slump because you’re feeling low, maybe a light-hearted comedy or romance is the way to go. If you’re in a slump because you’re feeling crap about how mundane the 9-5 life is, maybe a fantasy is the way to go. Identifying what you need from a book at the time that you’re in a slump can help you to find the book that might just pull you out of it 🙏

3. Maintain a reading routine

I already went in-depth about establishing a reading routine in the third post in the series and cannot stress enough that keeping a regular reading routine can be a life-saver when it comes to reading slumps. Having consistency in when and where you’re reading can prevent a slump and tapping into why you’re reading can pull you out of a slump if you’re in one. If you have reasons for wanting to read, reminding yourself of those reasons can often help combat a slump and increase your motivation to read.

4. Talk to your bookish friends

There’s nothing that lessens the burden of a reading slump than complaining to your bookish pals about it (I’m speaking from experience here 😂)! Aside from getting the frustration and struggle off your chest, your friends can recommend books, give you encouragement and share their tips for getting out of slumps. Some of my friends have shared life-saving tips that have helped get me out of slumps in the past. I’ve even done virtual read-alongs with friends which works wonders for slumps, which brings me to my next tip nicely.

5. Do virtual read-alongs with friends

When I first started doing virtual read-alongs with my friends on Skype I thought it was a bit weird, but it’s actually brilliant. It’s COVID-19 secure and is a fun social activity. My friends and I would set a timer to read for 30 minutes and then chat for 30 minutes so that the reading was broken up by discussion. It’s like a focus study session except it’s with books, you’re doing it because you want to AND you’re not being graded, so what’s not to love? It holds you accountable and actively encourages you to read. Of all the tips on this list, read-alongs with friends is the only one that’s guaranteed to work almost every single time.

6. Read a children’s book

Understandably children’s books aren’t for everyone, but if you are open to reading children’s books they can work wonders for reading slumps. Children’s books are often easy to read, light-hearted, joyful and whimsical which makes them the perfect books to reach for if you’re feeling low or are in a negative mental space. A lot of children’s books are also short so can be read quickly and don’t require a big commitment, which is a must when you’re in a slump. Check out my post where I shared my Favourite Children’s books if you want some recommendations.

7. Read a short story or play

When I’m in a slump I need short, snappy reads that require minimum commitment and time. Short stories and plays are a blessing for pulling me out of slumps because they can be read in an hour or two and remind me why I love reading. If you find a short story or play that you love enough, it might even encourage you to pick up another longer book 😉

8. Don’t put pressure on yourself

So this isn’t a practical tip, but a very important one. You know when you have to write a 3000 word assignment and the deadline is looming so you begin to put pressure on yourself to work on it and then it creates a mental block where you can’t work no matter how hard you try? Well, it’s the same with reading. The more you tell yourself, “I need to read, I need to read, I need to read”, the less likely you are to read. You’re not obligated to read all the time. If you want to be a regular reader, the only important thing is to keep coming back to it and to persevere. Even if you just read in those small 15 minute bursts every once a while, eventually you will find that you actively want to pick up a book again. Remember that reading can be a challenging hobby to undertake, especially in the beginning and it won’t be a linear journey. It takes patience and practice, but if you focus on what you can get out of reading and why you’re doing it, you’ll keep reading and hopefully overcome every slump you ever fall into.

That concludes the Breaking into Books series! 📚 I had so much fun writing this series 😊

Thank you to those of you that have read and followed the series. I struggled a lot in the beginning of my reading journey and almost put the books down for good, so I hope any new(ish) readers that have followed the series found it helpful and inspired or motivated you to begin or continue your reading journey. Maybe even some of you experienced readers found it useful too!

You can find a full list of links to the previous posts in the Breaking into Books series below.

Stay safe, my lovelies and keep reading.


Breaking into Books #4 – Finding bookish friends

Breaking Into Books is an ongoing series I post every other Sunday with tips and advice for new readers. Last time, I shared tips for establishing a reading routine and today I’ll be discussing how to find and make friends with other readers ðŸ“š

Whether it’s having a general chat about your reading habits, in-depth discussions about a book you love or even sending each other bookish memes making friends with readers and people in the bookish community makes reading so much fun. Reading can be enjoyed as a solitary activity, but it can also be very social and involving other people can massively improve your reading experience. I’d recommend all readers to find bookish friends because it’s a real game changer as a reader.

The benefits of having bookish friends in your life are huge, especially when you’re just starting out. It helps with motivation, recommendations, moral support, encouragement and so much more. Reading wouldn’t be half as much fun for me without the amazing people I have in my life that love books as much as I do. Whether you already have people in your life that read or not, there are lots of ways that you can involve friends in your reading experience to make it more fun and plenty places to find new friends that love to read, if you don’t currently have any, starting right here on this blog!

Where to find bookish friends

1. Your friends and family

The first obvious place to look for bookish friends is at the people that are already in your life. Do you have someone in your life that reads? Or perhaps someone that doesn’t read but would be up for giving it a go? Drop them a message or give them a call and ask if they want to do a buddy read with you. You might be surprised at how many people in your life will be willing to join you in a buddy read. Even if it’s only for one book, it’s a great motivator and way to get started with reading. It can also give you something new to bond over with somebody in your life that you love.

2. YouTube

YouTube has an entire corner of it devoted to reading referred to as Booktube. There are lots of great Booktubers that post book related content and offer communities that you can join. Whether it’s participating in discussions in the comments section on videos, joining Discord servers or Patreon’s, Booktube has spaces where you can make bookish friends. I’ll be making a post soon where I share my favourite Booktubers so keep your eyes peeled for that if you’re interested. But some good places to start is to search for a book or genre you’re interested in, check out some Booktubers that discuss it and find someone that appeals to your tastes.

3. Blogging sites

Now, admittedly I’m biased here 😂 but WordPress is a fantastic place to find bookish friends. There are lots of book bloggers that are always willing to chat about books and make new friends (myself included!). In addition to WordPress there’s Wix, Blogger, Tumblr, Weebly and more! Browse online and you’ll be sure to find plenty of bloggers, both new and seasoned readers, to bond with over books.

4. Libraries

Most libraries offer book clubs and book events that you can join or participate in. Due to COVID-19, they might not be taking place right now but it’s worth checking out when libraries re-open. It’s also possible that some libraries are holding online community events and book clubs for their local community. Even if you don’t have time to get involved with anything specific, visiting a library and striking up a conversation with others that are there can lead to a beautiful bookish friendship.

5. Other social media sites

Social media in general is a great place to find and connect with new people that share the same interests. YouTube, Instagram and blog sites are the best places in my experience, but other sites like Reddit, Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter and Discord are also worth checking out. There are multiple Subreddits that are particularly useful for readers to participate in book discussions including r/books, r/booksuggestions and r/literature.

6. The local community

Depending on where you live, your community may offer opportunites to network and meet other readers. Whether it’s literature festivals, author meet and greets, writer conferences, book readings, societies at a university (if you’re a student), there’s a variety of ways to get involved in book communities and events in real life as well as online. Once again, many of these things won’t be happening right now but it’s great to get involved in the future.

That wraps up my recommendations of where to find bookish friends. As a reader, I can’t emphasise how valuable it’s been to have friends that read. If I didn’t have my group of bookish friends I’m not sure I would’ve ever got back into reading fully. They encouraged, motivated and supported me every step of the way; shared in my excitement and enthusiasm, gave me great book recommendations and were generally a huge part of me falling in love with reading again. Even now, they pull me through slumps, let me gush about my favourite books and provide me with validation for my love of books.

I hope this helps those of you that are new to the bookish community to find new spaces to share your love of books and make friends that you can be a nerd with 🤓😂 feel free to message me anytime about book related things and I’ll always reply (maybe with too much enthusiasm)!

Stay safe, my lovelies and keep reading.

Breaking into Books #3 – Establishing a routine

Breaking Into Books is an ongoing series I post every other Sunday with tips and advice for new readers. Last time, I shared tips for finding genres that you’ll love and today I’ll be discussing how to establish a good reading routine ðŸ“š

Reading is like exercise. When you’re out of practice, it’s difficult to get started and you might be super pumped in the beginning but then the motivation tapers off quickly and your enthusiasm dwindles. But with perseverance and a good routine you can seamlessly integrate reading into your daily life. Routine is probably one of the most important aspects of becoming a regular reader. There’s no right or wrong way to establish a reading routine, but there’s a few questions to take into consideration when creating a reading routine which will help you to set yourself up for success: when, where, how and why are you going to read?

WHEN are you going to read?

Your existing schedule and commitments will probably dictate when you can read. Personally, I read everyday but that might not be realistic for some of you that have extra busy lives, so you may want to set aside a few hours in your week or month for reading. It doesn’t really matter how often you’re reading, the most important thing is to be consistent. By that I don’t mean that you need to read at the exact same time every single day/week, but that you’re regularly devoting time to reading. Set a goal and stick to it. For example, if you’re going to read three times a week it doesn’t matter what day or time you do it, but try to stick to your main goal of reading three times in that week.

Consider when you’re least busy and can squeeze in some reading time. Even if it’s only 10 minutes, it still counts! For most people, the ideal time is going to be right before bed. But for others, it might be during your lunch break at work or when your child is having a nap or you’re going for your daily walk. There are so many savvy and effortless ways to fit reading into your day. Here are some of the times/activities in my day that I use to get a chunk of reading done:

  • The commute to work
  • Getting ready in the morning
  • Walking/exercising
  • Lunch break
  • Chores/housework
  • Cooking

Some people are night owls, others are morning people, so that will also influence when the best time is for you to read. I’ve personally found that I have a better reading experience in the morning because I’m more awake and able to absorb what I’m reading better than when I’m tired right before bed. Remember that WHEN you read can effect comprehension, focus and your overall reading experience, so try reading at different times and see what suits you best.

WHERE are you going to read?

This is something I didn’t even consider when I started reading again, but boy, let me tell you – where you read makes one hell of a difference to your reading experience. Reading can be a tedious task and it’s easy to get distracted by discomfort, your surroundings, tired eyes and what’s going on in your head. Being in a comfortable, distraction-free environment with the right lighting means that you can become fully immersed in what you’re reading and have a more fun reading experience. For me, nothing beats sitting in an armchair with my earphones to read. When I read in bed, I find that one second I’m too hot so I’m throwing the covers off, then I’m too cold so I’m pulling the covers back on, then I’m tossing and turning to find a comfortable position, I’m dropping the book onto my face and it all becomes a bit of a palava that ends with very little reading actually getting done 😂

Don’t be afraid to switch it up and have lots of desginated reading spaces at home and in public. Having multiple spaces to read in can really help with “reading fatigue”. It’s rare that I can sit in one spot and read for more than an hour because I grow restless and/or tired. Changing location helps to refresh and re-energise so that I can keep reading. Outdoor spaces can be particularly great for this. There’s nothing quite like sitting in the garden for half an hour with a book, the sunshine blaring down on you 🥰☀️

HOW are you going to read?

Now this one probably sounds like an odd question, but what it means is how are you going to access books and which format are you going to read them in. HOW you’re reading – whether it’s via physical books (paperback or hardback), ebooks or audiobooks and whether it’s by borrowing from the library, purchasing or using subscription services – will impact the WHEN and WHERE of your reading routine. For example, audiobooks are going to give you the flexibility to read when you’re doing chores or driving or cooking, but a physical book is probably going to pose some problems 😂

Similarly, the source of where you’re getting your books from will also impact your reading routine. If you’re borrowing books from the library, you may have to place reservations and wait weeks for a book to become available, you’ll also have to read it within a certain time-frame (7-14 days). If you’re purchasing books, you’ll be able to get any book at the touch of a button and have freedom to read at your own pace. If you’re using subscription services, there may be restrictions on access to certain books or formats of books. Essentially, how you’re acquiring the books you read will have an impact on your reading routine and needs to be factored in.

WHY are you going to read?

The WHEN, WHERE and HOW is going to help you to plan your routine, but the WHY is going to help you actually stick to your routine. Everybody that reads, reads with a purpose and the reason why you’re reading is going to be what motivates you to establish and stick to your reading routine. You can create the most detailed reading schedule ever but if you lose sight of WHY you want to read, you’ll lack motivation and won’t maintain your routine long-term.

Write down a few goals you want to achieve or reaons why you’re reading. It could be to learn something new about a specific topic, to diversify your language, to find a character you relate to or to read a classic – it can be literally anything! Writing down the reasons you want to read will help you to focus on the value of reading for your personal enjoyment and development, which will mean you’re be more likely to actively want to read on the days/times that you set aside for reading.

Once you’ve answered these four questions – WHEN, WHERE, HOW and WHY you’re going to read – you’ll hopefully be in the perfect position to establish a reading routine that works for you and also have a list of reasons why you want to read to motivate you to stick to the routine long-term. The important thing to remember, is what I said at the start: reading is like exercise. Our brains are muscles just like our bodies and if you haven’t read before or have had a long break from reading, it will be difficult to maintain the routine at first but the more you practice and exercise the muscle, the easier it becomes. At first, I found it really hard to read everyday, but after a few months I realised that I couldn’t go a day without reading because my day felt weird and incomplete without it. Now, most days I pick up a book without even thinking. The moment I have a spare second in my day my brain automatically screams, “READING TIME!” 😂

Stay safe, my lovelies and keep reading.