I was so busy reading, DNF-ing books, and adding reviews and other content, that I totally missed the July 16th Let’s Talk Bookish weekly meme hosted by Rukky@EternityBooks and Dani @Literary Lion, which had the following topic:
What are the best ways to get over reading slumps? (Suggested by Rafaela @ The Portugese Bibliophile)
But… better late than never, right?
These are my personal opinions. I do not expect anyone to agree with anything here, and in fact, I’m certain that many will disagree and/or even hate many of the things I’ve written below. Sorry about that, but you are always welcome to express your own opinions – be they contrary or comparable – in the comments section. So, with that out of the way… let the controversy begin!
It has been a VERY hard year – well, actually, it’s been more like nearly 18 months – for the whole planet. Between the pandemic, natural disasters, and political unrest, I can truly understand why so many people are posting on the many bookish Facebook pages that they’re in reading slumps and want advice on how to get out of them.
I guess I’m pretty lucky, because despite some very trying times I’ve gone through myself recently, I’ve never actually found myself in a reading slump. In fact, just when I was going through the most difficult period, I found myself reading a book that – unbeknownst to me when I got the ARC – ending up hitting pretty close to home, almost perilously. Instead of quitting that book (mostly because it was so good), I decided that continuing reading was going to be cathartic, rather than unbearably painful.
I’m sure some people can identify with how I was able to cope, but I also know that not everyone is like me in such situations. Many people have felt that the recent pressures and worries in their lives came in conjunction with an inability to read at all. So when I saw these posts, I didn’t try to tell them to just keep reading (the old “buck it up” doesn’t work). Rather, I tried to see if there were ways to pull them out of these slumps as gently as possible. Most importantly, I tried to remind them that these things happen, and they shouldn’t berate themselves for not reading.
The first few times I saw these posts, I immediately realized that most of them were saying that the idea of finishing a whole book was the daunting part. So, my first idea was to suggest they try some short stories – preferably humorous ones – which wouldn’t mirror their present troubles, or include the types of serious problems they were experiencing. Several people said that they liked that idea and would try it out. No, I haven’t heard back from any of them, but I’m hoping that not seeing new complaining posts from those same readers is a good thing.
Other people sounded like they needed something more comforting, and I suggested they try looking for inspirational short stories. Then there were those who couldn’t even see themselves committing to reading a whole short story. My suggestion to them was to try reading some poetry (although I couldn’t really help with any recommendations). Obviously, for the slightly more resilient sounding readers, I could recommend a few novellas.
Another idea is to have them go back to a book they’d already read and loved, and try re-reading it. This was a very popular suggestion. See, since they knew what they were getting into, they could venture in without worrying that something in the book would surprise them (in a bad way) and make them want to stop reading. Visiting an old friend can be just the ticket. On the other hand, some people said they’d tried that, and that didn’t do the trick. For them, I suggested they try a book that they would never have normally read, something that might even shock them into discovering a new genre. Just reading a few pages might be enough for them to realize that either they totally hate that genre, or that they’d been missing out on something they’d been ignoring. With the former reaction, they could suddenly find the motivation to go back to reading their usual types of books. With the latter reaction, they might be inspired to find more books in this new genre.
One way or another, we need to recognize that a reading slump is something that will go away with time. Someone who enjoyed reading last year, but can’t find the motivation to pick up a book today, needs to be encouraged to allow themselves this break, and have confidence that one day they’ll pick up a book again, and enjoy reading as much as they did before. Don’t let them feel guilty or angry with themselves, that’s just counter productive. Also don’t make them feel like they’re doing anything wrong, or that this is all their fault. As they say, recognizing that you have a problem is the first step in finding a solution.
There you have it, my take on reading slumps!
So… what about you?
Do ever get into a reading slump? If so, how did you get out of it? If not, have you ever helped someone who was in a reading slump, and if so, what did you do or say?
This post is also my 8th entry in the 2021 Discussion Challenge, hosted by Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction and Shannon @ It Starts at Midnight!