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 📚
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.