Tuesday, June 11, 2024

7 Ways to Overcome a Reading Slump

For a bibliophile, a reading slump is the pits.

One day we’re reading merrily along our way, devouring the latest release from our favorite authors, working through our to-be-read list, eagerly awaiting the next book. Then—


It all comes to a halt. Suddenly, we find ourselves skimming the story, not really enjoying what we’re reading. Nothing appeals to the imagination. Nothing holds our attention. Everything tastes bland.

We’ve entered a reading slump.

And it’s not a fun place to be. All those books, just waiting to be read, and we’re stalled out, wasting precious time that could be better spent reading. All because we can’t seem to engage with those little black squiggles on the page.

What is a reader to do? Here are seven tricks I’ve found helpful to reignite my love of the written word when the story doldrums hit:

1. Mix it up. Sometimes a slump comes because I’ve been reading too much of the same thing. So branching out often helps. Try a new-to-you author. Sample a genre outside your norm. Or check out a different format, like an audio book. 

2. Revisit a childhood favorite. I have several childhood classics I loved as a kid, like A Little Princess, and take time to return to as an adult periodically. It helps me remember why I love reading and what makes story magical. So pick up an old favorite, for there’s something about returning to where the “magic” began.

3. Sample. Sometimes as bibliophiles, we think we need to finish every book we begin. But not every book is the perfect read for every mood or season, and the next thing you pick up might not appeal because that’s not where you are at now. So give yourself permission to sample books, reading one a chapter or even just a page until something clicks.

4. Read something mediocre. Sometimes I enter slumps because the last book I read was so amazingly perfect, nothing else can measure up. Yet because I tend to compare every book to last one I read, reading a quick, mediocre book sometimes “cleanses” my palate. Since I already know it is mediocre, I don’t expect it to compare to the amazing book I just read, and it lowers the bar for the next book I tackle.

5. Keep it short. After reading several long books, I can develop mental fatigue. Indulging in something shorter can refresh with the reward of a quickly-reached ending. Picture books or kid’s literature, short stories, novellas, and even some poetry can work for this.

6. Give yourself time off. As much as I loathe to admit it, not every season of life is conducive to reading, especially fiction. Add to this the book grief over the end of a favorite series or exhaustion from binge reading, and sometimes you just need to step away for awhile. And that is okay. The books will still be there when you return.

7. Pray. This might sound odd, but asking God to help select my next read is a practice I’ve found helpful. For I’ve discovered that sometimes I’m in a slump because it’s the wrong book at the wrong time. Rather, God has something different in mind for me, a book that contains something I need now, and the slump is His way of trying to get my attention. So asking for His direction can be exactly what is needed.

So next time you’re in a reading slump, don’t despair! This too shall pass, and with a few changes in reading habits, you’ll soon find yourself delighting in books once again.

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