The Reading Slump: An Unexpected Foe

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Skyler Boudreau
Editorial Contributor

You finally have some time to yourself. A full day to anything you want. You’ve been planning this for weeks. You’re going to spend the next twenty-four hours reading the new books you bought last month until your eyes are burning, and your fingers ache from the turning pages. As you begin the first new book, you notice something is off. The story is good, it has everything you like in a novel of its genre, but you just… don’t feel like reading it right now.

No problem. You have plenty of others to choose from. You repeat this mantra to yourself over and over, trying to fight your rising horror as you realize, no matter which book you pick up, you can’t spark your normally insatiable hunger for stories. You try to calm yourself, promising to try again in a few hours.

Hours turn into days which turn into weeks which sometimes, for an unlucky few, turn into months. You just don’t feel like reading. Whenever your eyes land on the mountain of unread books at the foot of your bed, you are overcome by guilt.

A reading slump can hit you like a ton of bricks. The reasons vary from person to person. For me, it usually happens after I have read a lot of the same types of novels. That can mean they all fall into the same genre, are written by the same author, or maybe they even share similar plotlines. Regardless of the source of this reading drama, it isn’t a fun experience.

Slumps happen to the best of us and aren’t exclusive to reading. They can befall anyone and apply to any hobby. It’s kind of like work burnout. You just can’t find your usual passion for an activity you used to love. Nobody can tell you how long a slump of any kind may last. They can, however, offer you some advice on how to defeat one.

I can force myself to read during a slump, but it isn’t something that I recommend. It isn’t enjoyable and sometimes it can worsen the situation. One way to ease the slump is reading in “bite-sized portions.” Try reading some flash fiction. If that helps, you can gradually increase the length of the pieces until you find yourself consuming novels at the same pace you were pre-reading slump.

Another option is read something that is completely new to you. If you’ve never picked up a fantasy novel, do it now! It might just be the shock that your brain needs to pull you out of your reading slump (and hey, you might fall in love with the genre along the way)!

In an odd sort of way, it can be refreshing to return to a hobby after a slump. Sometimes you just have to let it pass. It’s invigorating to suddenly realize that you want to read again after a period of not being able to.

Whatever the cause and regardless of the symptoms, you should know that a reading slump is not an indefinite condition. Nor is it an untreatable one. Experiment! What works to reignite the love of reading in one person may not work for you. How do you combat this unexpected adversary?

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