How To Get Out of Your Reading Slump
When I was little, I would read anything and everything. I’m talking magazines, the back of shampoo bottles, newspapers, books—anything that had words, I felt like I had a superpower when my eyes scanned the letters. I didn’t always read because I felt lonely, or because it was a way to escape, I read because reading helped me understand how my mind worked. My mind told stories, my mind ate words and spit them out into parts of my reality with a hint of imagination and fantasy.
For the longest time, I had stopped reading. It wasn’t until recently that I picked it up again, and with every story, I felt that I was finding another piece of myself—like I was searching for answers for so long, and they were finally being explained to me through the words and plot points of other characters, both real and fictional. I’m currently still consuming stories at an alarmingly fast rate because well, I have a lot of catching up to do. So, if you find yourself in a reading slump, I hope these words of wisdom can help you crawl out and discover what is waiting for you in those square looking things that are collecting dust on your shelf.
Here are a couple of things I have said in the past and things I have done to help me get out of my reading slump:
I never finish a book.
start a book club.
One of the most successful things that got me back into reading was a book club. This was started by me and a dear friend. We only successfully did the full circle book club once, but it jump-started my reading. We started out with a book club list of all the books we wanted to read, picked a book, and gave ourselves a month to read it. To motivate the end result, a wine and cheese night was scheduled. What else do you need as motivation? Honestly. Although this was our only successful club meeting, keeping it ongoing was not the point. The point was to help keep one another accountable and motivate each other to finish ONE book. And we did. To me, that book club initiative between two people was a success.
So get a friend, it doesn’t need to be a hoard of people, a club can be two people—you can meet in person, you can email, you can FaceTime. The point is to help have someone there to help you get through the simple goal of reading ONE book. It can take a week, a month, a year, whatever timeline you need. Once you start reading again, time won’t matter. Trust me.
read a graphic novel or a pilot episode.
These count. These are stories. These are worlds. These can also take you places and help you get out of the dark hole of no-reads. These are short. These are quick. If you’re scared of commitment when it comes to books, this is a good place to start. It’s just a quick date, they’ll even pay for dinner. The point is you’re getting back out there. You’re getting a little taste. And graphic novels even have pictures, so if you’re visual, this is a great place for you. No, graphic novels aren’t just comic books. There’s a lot of story there, and a shit ton of character development…I mean look at the thought bubbles, that’s internal dialogue with self-discovery. Come on!
Like Netflix? Addicted to shows? Binge-read your favorite show’s pilot episode. You know you like it, might as well see what you can visualize and come up within your own mind. Get creative! Pilot episodes and movie scripts are actually available to download online. Go find them. Go read them. Get out of that slump!
I can’t decide what to read.
make a list.
Check it twice. Gonna find out what reading is like. Sorry, got carried away. But seriously, this was one of my main problems. I could never decide what to read next. The amount of time it took me to decide, I could’ve been on chapter two. So to kick start my reading, I made an A to Z reading challenge list. I picked one book starting with each letter of the alphabet from the list of books I wanted to read and I started reading them in order. It was a fun way to go through my list of to-be-read books and also not worry about what to read next. Problem solved!
Try a challenge.
If you’re ready for a challenge that’s more than a list, I recommend participating in a Readathon. It’s like a marathon, but for reading. It’s exercising your MIND. There are all kinds of styles—a day, a week, a month, hell you can make your own readathon and set the goal for a little bit a year. I recently participated in an online readathon put together by the BookTube community called BookTube-A-Thon. I read 2,093 pages and read 7 books in one week. WHAT? Yeah, I’m a boss. That’s insane. I know. But, it helped. It was a challenge with no rules. You were the referee and you made the rules for yourself. That’s what reading is all about, it’s about YOU.
track your reading.
What if I told you there was an app that tracked your page count and told you what percentage of the way through you were with your book? A website that helped log your to-be-read lists that could be accessed from your phone. A place where you could see what other people were reading to get ideas and challenge yourself with yearly reading goals. Did I lose you? No? Okay, good. Just like a Fitbit, there’s a place to track your reading progress. That place is called Goodreads. If you’re interested, here’s my account for you to get some reading inspiration:
Ain’t nobody got time for reading.
I’m too busy to read.
No, you’re not. Let me break this down for you:
In one week alone, there are 168 hours. Let’s say you magically get 8 hours a sleep a day…you still have 112 hours. You have a job or go to school…you still have 72 hours left. 72 hours to scroll on your phone, work out, call your mom, play with your dog, eat, all the activities you choose to do. That’s a lot of hours. If you start dedicating one hour a week to reading, you still have 71 hours left to do whatever it is you want. You can break that hour up however you want in the week. You can read for one hour on Sunday morning with a cup of coffee, you can read for 15 minutes every day, for four days.
My commute takes up like 7 of those hours! Your math is wrong.
Wow. Ok first of all, CHILL. Second of all, you still have like 65 hours. Did you know you could finish an average audiobook in that commute per week? PER. WEEK. You can be reading one book a week by sitting in your car, waiting for traffic. You could read another one while you mindlessly scroll on your phone, staring at the same picture you’ve tapped twice on already, of that travel wanderlust or hot dude reading. Just start small. There are some audiobooks that are only three hours long. There’s a book on your to-be-read list that can kick start your audiobook addiction.
Audiobooks aren’t for me.
But like have you actually tried one? It might not be for you because you’re just laying there listening to a book. As a natural multi-tasker, this is hard. That’s probably why you’re not reading. Staying still in one place and doing one thing at a time is probably not your thing. Relaxing? What’s that? Try listening to an audiobook while you do the dishes or laundry when you’re scrolling through Instagram…the point is to try and integrate reading into your everyday life at first. Soon you’ll be ready to read, you’ll crave it. This might not be for everyone, but it has helped me read tremendously.
I can’t afford my book buying addiction.
get your books for free.
I can’t tell you to just stop buying books. Books are your babies. They’re your friends. It’s okay, I get it. We are going to start small. So, I’ll entice you with the word FREE. That’s right. FREE. There’s this magical place called a library. They let you consume as many stories as you want for free. Usually only 50 a month, but still, you’re fine. 50 is a lot for beginners. You’ll be fine. When I first got my adult library card, I say adult because this was an adult decision, Mom didn’t help me this time, I gotta say it was a life-changing experience. This book-Belle was overwhelmed. I checked out way too many books my first time around and was only able to finish like two. Did I ever mention I’m over-ambitious? What? No, I’m not!
Anyways, the library can help ease the book-buying frenzy for a while until you’ve read some of the books from your current collection. I might add that you can also check out movies or TV series at the library if you’re not ready to commit to a book. That’s okay, movies and shows are still stories. But in the long run, let’s make a goal of checking out ONE book the next time you’re there.
The library also has instant downloads for audiobooks and ebooks too. You just download an app, click a button, and BAM, you have a book for 21 days. It’s that easy.
But I love buying books.
Borrow the book from the library first. If you like it, go buy it and start curating a book collection that you actually love.
lovely life lesson:
Reading helps you escape but teaches you something without you even realizing it. Reading is a treasure hunt for answers to questions hidden within your soul. Reading makes you smarter, more peaceful, relaxed. Books are the friends filled with advice you wished your friends and family gave you. Books are an investment. If you buy a lot, don’t worry you’ll read them eventually. There was a time in your life when reading your first book was a joyous event, an accomplishment, and a privilege we oftentimes take for granted. So try one of these solutions for your reading slump. Read a book, find an adventure, understand someone better, relate to a romance, discover something about yourself…just read. And I hope to help you find a lovely book. See what I did there? What? Me neither.