May 2014: the last time I didn’t read a book in a calendar month. Until now. Today’s post should be my July Wrap-Up, but when you’ve not managed to finish a book, it’s an impossible post to write!
I’ve mentioned over the last couple of months that I’ve been in somewhat of a reading slump, finishing only one or two books: well, it’s officially hit.
I love books and reading – that much, I think, is evident – but I sometimes don’t enjoy it as much in practice as I do in theory.
The past nine months have been more difficult than usual in terms of my reading habits: upon completion of my degree, I made the decision to divert from my undergraduate discipline of Management with Marketing to undertake my MA in English. With the introduction of critical required reading (the “required” reading for my BA was anything but, and thus I never did it) for every one of my – at present – five modules, I have less time for pleasure reading, and when I do have the time, often the last thing I want to do is more reading. A true Catch 22.
To put this into some perspective, seven of the last thirty books I’ve read were for my university course. At less than 25% required reading, this might not sound like a lot, but when you consider that prior to starting my Masters I hadn’t had compulsory school reading for three and a half years, it really is a dramatic percentage.
School aside, sometimes within the blogging/BookTube community there is an astounding pressure to “Keep(ing) Up with the Kardashians”, so to speak. It’s so often about numbers – books read, blog/video hits, challenges completed – that we forget why we’re reading in the first place. With all these pressures it’s no wonder we hit the wall from time to time!
Reading slumps are experienced by even the most hardened individuals: it might be days, weeks, months, or even years before you return to your norm. Unfortunately, for those bookworms amongst us, this is an often painful test of endurance rather than a quick fix.
Top Tips for Overcoming a Reading Slump
- Accept and embrace it
Instead of moping about being stuck in a slump, do something different, or something you’ve been wanting to do for ages: marathon the latest Netflix show, catch up with friends and family, or try knitting, golf, baking (or any other activity). At some point that activity you want to do is read!
- Read a genre you wouldn’t normally read
I often find the best way for me to get out of a reading slump is to read some non-fiction; either an autobiography or a comedy memoir. If you usually read YA, try an adult crime novel, or if you lean towards historical fiction, pick up a fantasy. A little bit of variety is a great way to uncover unexpected gems.
- Read short books
Avoid the George R.R. Martin’s of the world and pick up a few novellas, graphic novels or short stories – you’ll be out of your slump in no time!
- Visit a bookstore, book signing or dedicated event
I tend to find that by physically surrounding myself with people who love talking about books, it pulls me out of my stupor – indeed this past weekend I’ve been at YALC, amongst hundreds of fellow booklovers and authors, and it (I think) is having the desired effect in motivating me once more.
- Listen to an audiobook
Sometimes reading a book in a different format is a perfect deviant from your typical routine: for me, this means listening to an audiobook or two. My favourite are autobiographies read by the author themselves, but I also listen to the odd classic to increase variety in my reading.
- Re-read an old favourite or read a new book by a favourite author
Harry Potter, in one form or another, is my go to series. I might read the odd chapter here and there, or listen to Stephen Fry’s incredible narration. This time I have a distinct feeling that it is going to be the release of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child in script form that magics me out of the trance.
If you’re in a reading slump (like me), the most important thing to remember is that it won’t last forever: at some point something will change as quickly as flicking a switch, and you’ll be devouring the pages once more. Just bear in mind, read because you want to, not because you “should” – unless it’s that required reading, you probably should do that!
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