No matter how big of a book wyrm you are, I bet you’ve needed to beat a reading slump or two in your life. Whether it was just a few weeks, months, or even years, they can happen to the best of us. Suddenly, the thought of picking up a book feels you with a tired resignation, and the thought of doing something you once loved feels like a chore. And you feel guilty. Guilty that you’re turning your back on books. Guilty for becoming like the masses of others out there who have never loved reading. Sometimes you even try to pick up a book and read a few chapters, only to put it down because it failed to capture you like you’re used to. Or you carry a book around from your TBR pile only to discover that weeks later you still haven’t even read the first chapter.
The important thing is to be able to overcome your reading slump and to not let it ruin your love of reading. Below, we share our tips and tricks for overcoming a reading slump. Not everyone is the same, so find the tricks that work for you and don’t worry about the rest.
19 Ways to Beat a Reading Slump
1. Try to identify why you’re in a reading slump and do the opposite of whatever put you there. Maybe you read a book that had a plot that never seemed to go anywhere. Or you read a genre that you usually like, but for some reason, that one didn’t seem to cut it. So find a fast moving-plot, or a totally different genre, and try that on for size. Sometimes switching things up is all it takes to break a reading slump.
2. Stop replacing your reading time with binge-watching time. Sometimes life gets busy, rough, and exhausting, and it’s easy to replace reading time with television watching time. Maybe it’s because television shows take the heavy lifting of having to imagine entire new worlds and characters on your own. However, television won’t leave you as fulfilled as reading, and there’s always the groggy, unproductive feeling after a long day of binge-watching that never makes you feel great. So the next time you reach for the remote to unwind, maybe grab a book instead and lock yourself in a television-less room.
3. Re-read an all-time favorite. I actually have mixed feelings about this one. On one hand, reading a favorite book can be a great way to remember why you love reading. On the other hand, it’s easy to close a book when you already know the ending.
4. Take a vacation from your phone. If you find yourself having a hard time getting sucked into books, maybe the constant interruptions from your phone notifications are to blame. The constant pull to check in on social media, answer a text, or Google that random thought you just had can keep you from really diving into the book. So turn off your phone, or leave it in another room, and give yourself some quality time to spend with your book.
5. Try switching out your fiction books for non-fiction. Non-fiction might not be the kind of thing you typically enjoy reading, but you’re also not usually in a reading slump. Think about topics that interest you. Maybe it’s your hobby or a subject like history or physiology, etc. (For me it’s books on serial killers or true crime.) Find an interesting book on the subject, and read it. Learning new things about a subject you already are interested in or love might just be enough for you to finish the book. And getting through that first book is the first step to getting over a reading slump.
6. Look for books outside your current TBR pile. Looking at the same TBR pile over and over again, and feeling increasingly guilty for neglecting the books in it, isn’t exactly the inspiring feeling that will help you beat a reading slump. So instead, go off book and search for new and exciting titles. Browse through Reddit, top reading lists, or a book store, and look for a book that sounds so interesting that you need to start reading it right that second.
7. Watch a bad book-to-movie adaptation. Let all the botched lines, skipped detail, and poorly cast characters stir up a bit of righteous indignation that makes you yearn for the real thing.
8. Read something short and easy. Look for pure brain candy. Finishing a book, no matter how easy, will leave you with a sense of accomplishment and remind you of how much fun reading is.
9. Take a personal day. You know what makes it really hard to focus on reading? Little people running all over the place, or roommates coming in and out all day long. So why don’t you take a “me day.” Grab a book and spend a day in with yourself, or take a short drive to a nice, quiet reading spot that you like. Either way, taking a break from the people in your life who need your attention to focus on a book can do wonders for a reading slump.
10. Join a book club. Having a whole squad of dedicated readers supporting you and lovingly selected books, as well as a reading deadline, could be the perfect recipe to get you reading again.
11. Read some Fanfiction. When I’m struggling to commit to new worlds and experiences, I find that taking a trip to my favorite fanfiction site usually helps. It’s like swimming in a shallow pool of reading where I already know the characters and the settings, and I can just skip to the interesting parts if I want to.
12. Read something funny. There’s nothing like reading a book that has you laughing out loud. And the positive feelings you get from reading your humorous book will transfer over as you start on your next novel.
13. Reorganize your bookshelves. I don’t know about you, but if I want to derail a day, I clean my bookcases. Before I know it, I’m staring lovingly at an old favorite book or re-reading my favorite chapters. Sometimes I stumble across an old gem that I’ve forgotten and start reading the entire thing from the beginning. Try to reorganize your bookshelves without getting distracted. I dare you.
14. Read something your friend loves, and tell them you’re about to read it. They’ll have already given you glowing reviews to look forward to, and they’ll probably keep popping in to see how you’re progressing and liking it so far, which will motivate you to keep reading.
15. Create a reading routine. Sometimes the hardest part of getting over a reading slump is just making time for reading in your busy schedule. Help yourself get back into the swing of things by creating a reading routine. Find a time in your schedule and set an alarm to remind you to read. Maybe the best time for you is before turning out the lights for the night, or right after you drop your kids off at school, or when you get home from work for the day. Whatever the time, repeatedly reading at the same time everyday will teach your brain when it’s time to read and you’ll start to look forward to those reading breaks in your day again.
16. Create a reading nook. Growing up I heard that you shouldn’t try to do homework in bed, because your brain is programmed to sleep there. The same principle can apply to reading. Creating a cozy and dedicated reading area can tell your brain that it’s time to read.
17. Grab a stack of books and take turns reading a few pages from the middle until something hooks you. While some people might say that this approach runs the risk of ruining one of the book’s many surprises, I find that when I read a scene that interests me enough to start reading the book, I anticipate that scene the entire time, and I try to figure out how all the pieces will fit together to end up at that point.
18. Wait it out. Sometimes your brain just needs a break. So, instead of feeling guilty or trying to push yourself to read, enjoy your break from reading. Take the time to do that thing you’ve always wanted to do, or to enjoy more naps. Everyone could use more naps.
19. Take some time to write. The key to being a great writer is to be a great reader first, but it can be hard to focus on your own plots with a bunch of other authors’ stories floating around in your head. So take this chance to focus on your own story without any distractions. Before you know it, working on your book might inspire you to read other great books.
We hope these tips and tricks will help you beat your next reading slump. Have other ways you’ve used to beat a reading slump? Let us know in the comments below!
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