I’ve been stuck in a serious reading slump. I haven’t finished any of the books I’m currently “reading” this month. On Goodreads, it says I’m five books behind schedule of my goal to read fifty books. I think reading fifty books is a good average for me. In 2017, I read 48. In 2018, I read 51. But I’ve only read six books so far this year and they were all relatively short! And I’ve been wondering why. Why am I stuck in such a slump?
It’s hard to be motivated to read when you really don’t feel like doing anything or when you feel like you have too much to do. Reading just hasn’t been a priority sadly. Even if I should set aside time for reading to keep me sane.
First, I’ll use the classic excuse: I’m just so busy! I just have been trying to edit draft two of my book, continue to post blog posts, be social, start a new job, as well as do normal things like run errands. I have a mountain of projects I want to tackle and a seemingly endless to-do list.
But I think sometimes you get stuck in a reading slump for different, deeper reasons. Especially when you’re tired or burnt out, there’s a certain amount of effort required to read a new book and pay attention to the characters and the plot. It can seem like you’re losing time if you invest a couple hours into a book that you later abandon.
Along those same lines, maybe you’re afraid of disappointment, of a book not meeting your expectations or being a chore to read. All this anxiety has lead me to one place: not reading at all.
So when I get any combination of these feelings there’s a couple of things I do to get out of my reading slump.
Reread of Book
I turn to my favorite books. Yup, my number one solution is to reread books I’ve already read. And usually, they are books that I’ve reread multiple times. They are pure comfort. You know what’s going to happen so the expectations are low. You know they will make you happy to read them.
So what books do I love to reread? One of my all time favorite is, of course, Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. I love to reread this book to immerse myself in the glorious writing and the sharp wit. The story and the characters pull at my heartstrings every damn time.
Some of my other favorites include Eragon for adventure, Shiver for romance, and Finnikin of the Rock for everything else.
Listen to a Book
Audiobooks have been my saving grace when it comes to reading more books. I fell in love with audiobooks last year when I commuted an hour a half one way to my school in Spain.
I love to listen to memoirs especially. They have been my bridge to reading more nonfiction. I also use Librivox to listen to audiobooks for free. They are free public domain audiobooks. I’ve listened to many classics using the Librivox app on my phone, including a new favorite: American classic Little Women.
But I think that Call the Midwife was the first audiobook that got me hooked. The audible version of this memoir was superb. The voice actress nailed the narrator’s inflection as well as the plethora of accents. I love the TV series Call the Midwife and I listened to Jennifer Worth’s trilogy of memoirs after watching the great historical drama. And speaking of watching TV, my third strategy for when you’re stuck in a reading slump is
Watch a Literary Movie or Show
Raise your hand if you’ve watched the Harry Potter movies a million times! I love to rewatch the Harry Potter movies. They are such comfort! Plus, you can get a whole story in two hours. I mean this idea isn’t exactly the best strategy but it does work. Just watching a movie or show based off a book, can be motivated to start reading or writing again.
Especially since Netflix has made some of their own movies based on books this year. I adored The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before.
There are periods when I’ll read three books in a week but then I might not read a book in three weeks. That I think is normal, but this absolute void of reading has impacted my confidence as a writer. Because I think reading and writing are irrevocably linked. One cannot be a prolific writer if one is not a prolific reader.
Editing is hard. Seriously, not easy. And it’s the first time I’m editing such a monster of a project. Instead of focusing on the hardship, I need to focus on the possibilities! And reading good books and good writing is a way to boost my confidence, a way for me to know that it can be done.
So what about you? Have you ever experienced a dreaded reading slump? What are your ways to combat it? I’d love to hear in the comments.