I’ve been hearing about reading slumps a lot recently (and you all know I’ve been facing a few of my own this year!), and this weekend, I got thinking. I’m a pretty indecisive person, so standing staring at my shelves blankly shouldn’t come as a huge surprise – and yet, every time I fall into a reading slump, I AM shocked. I’ve been through more ups and downs this year than ever before, and I started wandering whether maybe all slumps were not created equal, and whether different slumps need different solutions.
I did a quick google search on types of reading slumps and I didn’t find anything (though I do mean quick, so feel free to point me to any such posts!). I went through my own reading habits, and I’ve identified 5 main types of reading slumps I go through. In true chocoholic spirit, I’ve compared them to the (very rare) occasions I might not want a chocolate bar.
Maybe this is just me, but I definitely find my reading habits change seasonally. In autumn and winter when it’s cold and dark, I’d much rather spend my evenings reading, but in summer time I’m much more laid back. Holiday periods are obviously great for reading too, but busy times like the end of the academic year, my reading tends to suffer.
Suggestion: Set goals or learn to work with your patterns!
For me, I find I just have to try and mix up my routine a bit throughout the year, and maybe come to terms with the fact I’ll always be an end-of-year panic reading challenger! I try and set myself mini goals, such as taking part in Bout of Books or other readathons, but mostly I just let this slump go! I still love reading, there’s no problems with my reading choices etc, it’s just a bit slower at different times of year – and that’s okay.
In chocolate terms: ‘I just went out for an enormous dinner, followed by cocktails, shots and a pizza on the way home…I couldn’t eat another thing, even a chocolate bar’
This is when you’re so tired from everything else that you just don’t have the energy to read. Whether it’s moving house, exam season, or just a mental week at work, sometimes your brain just needs a break, even from reading.
Suggestion: Take a break
Reading is my go-to method of relaxing, but when you’ve been re-reading your dissertation for days on end, you might be better off watching a movie, having a bath, or going out for a walk! If I really want to keep reading, I might pick a few ‘easy’ books from my shelves: a gripping YA, a guilty-pleasure erotic romance, or a tried-and-tested author I know I can relax with.
In chocolate terms: ‘It’s the day after Easter/Christmas/my birthday, and I just ate my own body weight in chocolate…not today!’
This is when I’ve done so much reading recently, I just need a break! This happened to me right at the beginning of 2014, when I’d binge read all Christmas and tried to tick all my challenges off.
Suggestion: Take a break
For me, the only way out of this one is to do something else – anything else! – other than pick up a book. Some time off – whether that’s going out with friends, chilling out in front out of the TV, writing or anything else that takes my fancy, the only way to tackle The Seasonal Slump for me is to walk away from reading, until a book comes along that I just CAN’T resist.
In chocolate terms: ‘All I really fancy is a Galaxy/Dairy Milk/Other particular chocolate bar…but I’ve eaten so many recently…’
Do you ever go through genre phases? I’m so guilty of this – I’ll pick up a particularly great fantasy book that sets off a phase where all I want to do is read fantasy. After five fantasy books in a row though, it CAN start to wear thin, and I’ll find myself picking up a book, reading a few pages, and then putting it down because I’m just not that into it or I can’t stop comparing it to the last one.
Suggestion: Step outside your comfort zone!
You may have been loving the literary fiction streak you were on, but if you’re feeling less than inspired, try stepping out of your comfort zone. Try a genre you know you love, try something completely new or re-read an old favourite. Just make sure you do something to break that streak you’re on, and hopefully your next read will remind you how much you love reading in general, rather than specific genres!
In chocolate terms: ‘I don’t even really like Turkish Delight, but she bought it especially for me and it looks rude’
This one occurs for me when I’m reading a book I just don’t fancy, but feel like I ‘should’ read. That guilt could come from an obvious source – review books or school books – but don’t underestimate the guilt you put yourself under! Reading a book because you ‘have to’ before the film comes out, or reading a book you borrowed off a friend who raved about it – sound familiar?!
This is perhaps the trickiest reading slump for me to escape, and I think it all comes down to your sense of guilt for each book. Is it a book you’re happy to put off for a while? (Knowing that that means a delay but also that you might read the book more favourably?). Would you rather keep this one on the go while reading other things to try and fix your slump? (I bow to you if you can manage this one, I would just end up never going back to the book in question!).
What about you?
I’d absolutely love to know about your reading slumps! Do they fit into these kind of types? Do you think you have several types like I do, or are you more like an on-off switch with just two settings: either reading or slumping?
More interestingly, how do you get OUT of a reading slump?!