When I first started blogging in November 2016, I made a post about the different kinds of “reading ruts” I had experienced. I hadn’t really heard the term “reading slump” at that point, but it was along the same lines. When I saw this week’s prompt, I thought it was a very interesting one. I find that many bloggers/vloggers/Goodreads members that I follow have been complaining of being in a really big rut this year for a variety of reasons. I tried to come up with a list of some specific books that might get you out of a slump, but it was a challenge since everyone’s tastes are so different. I decided to angle this week’s prompt a tiny bit differently, and focus on the different kinds of reading slumps, and what I find usually works for me. I also wanted to revisit the “reading rut” types I came up with two years ago and see if they are still a problem for me. The first five reading slump types here are the ones I identified 2 years ago (and honestly, not much has changed with those), and the remaining five are new.
Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.
1) The Vortex – Constantly re-reading the same books over and over
There is absolutely nothing wrong with revisiting your favourite books and series, and I would actually often recommend that as a way to get yourself out of a slump. I know Harry Potter and A Series of Unfortunate Events have pulled me out of many slumps over the years. This can become a slump if you do nothing but constantly re-reading the same books, without trying anything new.
To get out of this slump, I would suggest starting slowly and look for books that are recommended for fans of your favourites. For example, last year I picked up The Forgetting Time by Sharon Guskin because it was strongly compared to my favourite author, Jodi Picoult, and it was amazing! I would also suggest going onto Goodreads or other websites and looking for recommendations based on your favourite genres or books, and try out some of those as well.
2) The Spider Web – Getting “stuck” or unable to choose a book at all
I find this slump tends to be a little different from The Vortex. You might have a ton of new or exciting books on your TBR, but there are just so many to choose from that it’s hard to know where to start. As a result, you end up choosing nothing at all. I was stuck in this kind of slump for years, where I had so many books I wanted to try but no particular motivation to any specific ones. I would end up endlessly adding new books to my list, but then get “stuck” when it came to actually choosing something since I got too overwhelmed by all the options. There were so many that seemed good, that I just couldn’t decide and ended up not picking anything at all.
To get out of this kind of slump, get yourself organized! I use Goodreads to keep track of all the books I’m interested in reading, and my TBR is currently well over 2000 books, so it’s no surprise that it can be overwhelming at times. Even just having a Goodreads TBR helps me remember the books I want, and I love to skim through it and see which ones catch my attention most. That alone can be a great first step to narrowing down your choices. You can also organize your TBR and split it into multiple lists (ie. by genre), so when you have an idea of what kind of book you feel like reading, you have a smaller pool of options to choose from, and might be able to actually make a choice. I would also highly recommend trying a prompts-based reading challenge (as opposed to one that is just “Read X number of books by the end of the year”), since that gives some direction by giving specific kinds of books to find. It becomes like a scavenger hunt, and makes it fun to choose books. It could also help to use a TBR jar or something similar to pick books at random, and take the choice out of your own hands.
3) The Doorstop – A book that is very slow-paced, or just takes forever to finish
I’ve learned over the years that literally any book can become a doorstop. The biggest doorstops for me tend to be books that are very long, slow-paced or that have a lot of old-fashioned language. I got stuck for a long time on A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court because of the language, but I was also surprised to find that Listen, Slowly by Thanhha Lai was a doorstop too! It’s a middle grade book that is under 300 pages, but I just could not get into it at all, and it felt like it took forever to get through, even when it didn’t.
My biggest advice for getting through this kind of slump is to stop putting pressure on yourself. When your Goodreads challenge starts to tell you how many books behind your goal you are, it can get a bit intimidating. Seeing a really long or complex book ahead can make you feel like you’re falling further and further behind, and lead to the perception of it as a doorstop. Or, starting a book to find you’re just not that into it and are taking it slow can also feel like a doorstop. I would suggest switching it up by using a different format, or alternating small parts of the doorstop book with something that you find more motivating. Another option is to pick up books that are light or short and easy to get through. Graphic novels usually work well for me, and I would highly recommend Nimona, Anya’s Ghost, or Seconds.
4) The Full Plate – You want to read, but you’re just don’t have much time
This was literally me for all of the years I was in university and college. I had too much schoolwork, and since most of that was reading, the last thing I wanted to do at the end of the day was read anything else. Even now when I’m working full time, I purposely devote some time each day to reading and I do my best to make sure I have at least an hour or two a day. There is absolutely nothing wrong with having a busy and active life or taking a break from reading for a while, but some people might consider it a slump if they feel like they are falling behind on their goals.
To get through this one, there are two main options. The first is to accept the fact that you don’t have much time right now and don’t guilt yourself about doing other things. I’m definitely the type who sometimes needs to remind myself that it is okay not to be getting through books as quickly as I would like. The second option is to set realistic daily goals for short periods of reading whenever you can. Even if that means reading just 5 pages after dinner, or listen to a few minutes of an audiobook when you’re on your way to work, every little bit helps. This is another case where short or quick books might also work, since you can make a lot of progress very quickly.
5) The Losing Streak – You keep picking up book after book that you’re just not enjoying
This is another one that’s been a problem for me, but actually more for watching anime than for reading. I went through a couple of years where I watched a lot of anime (because my boyfriend is a huge fan and gave me many recommendations), but after watching mediocre show after mediocre show, I found I just wasn’t enjoying it anymore and mostly stopped watching. The same can definitely happen with books, and reading too many in a row that you’re just not enjoying can kill motivation to read.
To get out of this kind of rut, you can revisit an old favourite to try and spark your motivation back up, or branch out and really try something new and different. Try a brand new genre, or a different format than you normally read. I also usually skim through my TBR on Goodreads and see what jumps out at me. There’s still no guarantee that you’ll like what you pick, but it could at least break the cycle. It also could be a good opportunity to pick up a hyped book you’ve been meaning to try, but it’s a bit risky since if you’re already beginning to slump, you may not enjoy it as much as you would have otherwise.
6) “It’s Not You, It’s Me” – You’re just not in the mood for the book you picked, so you end up not enjoying the book you chose
I think this one kind of goes hand in hand with the Full Plate in a way, but it’s not limited to just being too busy. I’m a huge mood reader, so I tend to take out a bunch of books from the library at the same time so I have options to choose from based on what I feel like picking up at the time. Sometimes, you’re just not in the mood to read anything at all. I have days where I end up reading when I’m too distracted to properly focus, and it’s honestly such a waste since you end up not taking anything in. Or, I’ve picked up books because they were due back to the library soon even though I’d really rather be reading something else.
To get past this kind of slump, I usually do what I mentioned above and find ways to give myself options to choose from. If I’m really not in the mood for a book at all for extended periods, I just don’t read it. It’s tough sometimes because I’m picking books for reading challenges, so if I scrap one, I need to find something else that fits the same prompt. Sometimes that is very difficult, but there are usually ways to find books that fit or stretch the prompt slightly to read something you really want. If you’re stuck on a book that you’re not in the mood for now but think you might enjoy later, there’s no shame in putting it down and coming back to it another time.
7) The Self-Fulfilling Prophecy – You go into the book expecting not to like it very much, and then you end up not liking it
This one is one of the biggest problems for me! I’ve learned over the past couple of years that if I go into a book expecting not to like it, I often won’t. There are always cases where I’m pleasantly surprised (The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo), or where I’m disappointed by something I expect to love (The Hangman’s Daughter), but I’ve often found my attitude toward the book has a really strong effect on what I’ll think of it. In general, I try to pick books that I’m reasonably certain I will like, but I find with every challenge I do, there are always a few that I’m not so interested in but pick up anyway to fulfill a prompt. I find this kind of slump also tends to happen most with genres or types of books that you’re just not that interested in. For me, that’s usually non-fiction, so I tend to go into them expecting to be bored, and end up being bored.
To get past this kind of slump, try your best to keep expectations realistic and to into each book without any preconceived ideas. This is especially difficult when a book becomes extremely overhyped (The Hate U Give, The Raven Boys, etc.) or when you’ve seen a ton of negative reviews. I would suggest looking carefully at the synopsis before picking up the book and thinking about whether it is something that really appeals to you, or if you’re reading it because of hype or recommendations. You could also try a chapter/set number of pages and decide based on that instead of immediately committing to reading the whole thing. Once you get a taste of how the book is and whether it is what you’re looking for, you can make a more accurate judgment of whether to continue.
8) The Copycats – You’ve read many books in a row that are very similar to each other, and you’re getting bored of reading the same thing again and again
I’ve seen this pattern happen quite a bit with YA contemporary, thrillers, and dystopians, but I’m sure it could happen for any genre. For me, this tends to happen most often with YA contemporaries since I never seem to balance my library holds very well. This kind of slump happens when the books you’re reading all feel like rehashes of each other with the same tropes and very similar characters. It makes them feel predictable and just boring to read one after the other.
In my opinion, this is the easiest kind of slump to get out of. I tend to naturally build some variety into my book choices specifically to avoid this problem. You can make yourself a tentative TBR for the next few books you want to read, and ensure that it includes a variety. Mix things up with books of different lengths, genres, formats, etc. If you’re only really interested in one or two genres, take breaks between books and either read something else or wait a couple of days before picking up the next one to get some distance.
9) The Leapfrog – You are reading one book, but constantly looking ahead to what you want to read next, or jumping from book to book without finishing any
I think there are two different kinds of Leapfrog slump, depending whether you read more than one book at a time or not. I personally have never been able to focus on more than one book at a time. I would always default to reading just the one that interests me most before switching, so it seemed pointless for me to try to balance multiples. For those who can read many at once, leapfrogging would be jumping from book to book because you can’t settle on just one, which results in hardly moving forward on any of them individually. For people who read only one at a time, it would look more like reading one book while constantly trying to look ahead at your upcoming books and thinking about what to read next. Either way, the book you’re reading now is having a hard time holding your attention.
Switching from one book to another, even rapidly like this, is not necessarily a bad thing since it encourages variety and lets you make progress on many interesting books at the same time. It only really becomes a slump when you find it getting in the way of making any real progress. To counter this, I would suggest making a (flexible) reading schedule to help keep your reading balanced or focus on the books that interest you most. For the one-at-a-time readers, make a TBR list to get your upcoming books off your mind, and set it aside until you’ve finished what you’re reading. Or, if you’re really not enjoying the book you have now, put it down for a while and pick up something more motivating. You can always come back to the other one later.
10) The Burnout – You’ve read so many books in a row lately, and now you’re just tired of reading in general
This one tends to be the biggest problem for me toward the end of the year, when my challenges are complete (if there is extra time). I can finish an average-length book in general every 2-3 days, assuming I have a decent amount of time to read, which means I can easily finish well over 100 books in a year. It’s great for making a small dent in my massive TBR list, but it can also lead to the feeling of reading too much too quickly. Reading book after book after book can make you feel burnt out on reading in general, even if there are plenty more books you want to read.
To get past this one, take a break! No one should feel that they have to read all the time, especially since it is supposed to be fun and relaxing. Keep in mind that the pressure of completing a reading challenge by a specific date is completely self-imposed. There are no challenge police who are going to come and check your book choices or when you finished them, so it’s up to you to decide when you want to read, what kind of books, and how many. Do your best to set realistic goals for yourself and take into account other life commitments that might limit your time, without necessarily viewing them as taking away from your reading time. Give yourself time between books. If you’re concerned about finishing a challenge in time, either extend your deadline or give yourself planned time off in between books to refresh yourself.