Today I wanted to share some tips for overcoming a reading slump and (hopefully) finding the joy of losing yourself in a story once again.
Most readers have probably experienced this phenomenon at one point or another.
You slowly, or maybe quickly, shift from your regular reading patterns to no longer feeling anticipation at the thought of picking up another book in your preferred genre(s).
Maybe you’ll start one book only to grow bored and wander away from it after a chapter or two. This can happen again and again during a slump.
I know I’ve sure found it harder to stay focused since this year began.
I’m totally serious about that, too. It feels obvious to me, but so many lists on this topic seem to skip over this solution.
How long should this break last? That’s up to you. I think about my interest levels in reading in general instead of how much time has passed.
Generally, my breaks last between a week and a month, but I’d have no problem going much longer than that if needed.
The thing about being an avid reader is that you often eventually begin to see the patterns in the genres you read. It’s harder to surprise someone who has been reading the same genre for years or decades.
Reading also isn’t so much fun when one can predict what will happen next in a story, especially if you’re already feeling tired of this hobby in general.
Sometimes the best way to react to this feeling is to stop trying to make yourself enjoy reading and find something else to fill your free time.
What else can you do? Well…
Get (More) Active
Reading can be like exercise for your mind. Books can teach new words (or even entire languages), challenge your pre-conceived notions of the world, and introduce you to sorts of people and situations you might never come across your daily life.
There’s definitely something to be said for switching between activities that challenge your brain and activities that challenge your body, so stay with me here.
Depending on your current fitness level, interests, and what equipment you might have access to, this could take a wide range of forms:
- Playing sports
- Taking a long walk
If you’re already physically active, now could be a good time to increase the length of your workouts or try a form of exercise that isn’t part of your regular routines.
Try Something New
No, I’m not referring to trying a new genre (unless you already have the urge to do so). It’s been my experience that this technique works best if it has nothing to do with books or reading at all.
There’s nothing like tasting a new food, buying something small you’ve been wanting for a long time, or visiting an autumn forest so filled with brightly-coloured leaves that it almost seems as if all of the trees themselves are glowing.
Sometimes the “new” thing I try is as simple as walking down a street I don’t normally visit to see what interesting landmarks might exist there or crouching down on the ground to observe a plant I’d normally walk past without a second thought.
This can take many forms, and it can be as thrifty as you’d like it to be. Honestly, most of my favourite memories in life involve intangible things that no store can ever box up for sale.
Perform an Act of Kindness
It’s been my experience that reading slumps are often tied into how I’m feeling in general. I’m much more likely to have them when I’m dissatisfied with other aspects of my life.
There are many things that are out of our control, and many more that can only be changed after months or years of effort and a great deal of luck.
That’s part of the reason why I think that performing acts of kindness are so effective. For that moment, I’m pulled out of whatever is going on in my own head and only focusing on making someone else’s day a little bit brighter.
A random compliment for a stranger or a quick text to a loved one about something you know they’d love only takes a few seconds to accomplish.
That instant mood boost might eventually trickle over into other parts of your life as well. It often does for me! Even if it doesn’t work right away or at all, you’ll still have the satisfaction of knowing you had a positive impact on someone else’s day.
And who knows how far one act of kindness can spread?
One of my high school English teachers always paid the fee for the car behind her when she drove on toll roads because she wanted to make strangers smile. She once pulled up to the teller only to learn that the car ahead of her had already paid her fare, so she paid for the next two people in line after her!
I’ve often wondered if they kept that chain of kindness going. It’s nice to think that they did.
How have all of your reading habits been this year? What do you find effective when you’re in a reading slump?