Slumps (and how to get out of them)

No, there are four types of slumps: add reading slumps.

I haven’t posted many reviews lately. I’m not in a reading slump but instead working my way through some big books (and having to do a lot of reading for uni).

One of the books I’m currently reading is John Boyne’s glorious The Heart’s Invisible Furies. I’m almost finished and regardless of how this book ends, it has wholly won me over.  But I’m in that tricky stage of a great book where I want to read constantly but I also don’t want it to end… I mentioned this on Goodreads and one of my reading buddies commented how wonderfully absorbing Boyne’s book is and that she wished she was reading something similar because she was in a slump.

I haven’t had a reading slump for a while but I thought about what I do when one hits. It’s usually one of the following –

  • change genres (dramatically, so that when I return to my contemporary-literature-comfort-zone, I’m thrilled to be there)
  • read a novella (no commitment issues there)
  • re-read a favourite (my go-to is Gatsby)
  • listen to an audiobook (little effort required)
  • walk into a bookshop and buy whatever catches my eye

Obviously the last approach is the most fun. What do you do to get out of a reading slump?

29 responses

  1. Good advice. I favour the novella approach, so I don’t feel I’m taking on too much & quickly have a sense of achievement. I realise this makes me sound ridiculous! I hope your friend ends her slump soon, not a good place to be – I’d be soooo bored!

  2. I don’t think I’ve ever had a reading slump. This might be because I am always reading multiple books (usually 10-15, but sometimes as many as 20), so I can switch between books as the mood takes me. A few might fall by the wayside for a while, but eventually I’ll pick them back up. I agree that a novella or short story could be a good way to snap out of a slump in general.

    I’m so glad you’re loving The Heart’s Invisible Furies — my top novel of last year 🙂

    • I think multiple books helps avoid slumps (although I only have 3 or 4 books on the go at any one time). That said, I’m reading three very long books at the moment and feeling a bit bogged down all of a sudden – think I need to quickly finish one and pick something quick and gripping next.

      • It’s important to always have at least one book on the stack that’s particularly fun and readable, otherwise they can all get to feel like a slog.

        There have been times when I’ve read the first few pages of multiple books on my Kindle and abandoned them all in favor of something else — but that’s probably the closest I’ve come to a slump.

  3. I hate it when I do have reading slumps. Often, it’s because of life circumstances (just can’t focus) or interestingly enough, when I’ve just finished a really great book. My usual go-to slump-buster is to reread an old favorite or listen to it. I already know the ending. I know that I loved it. It makes me feel good. And then other books look more appealing.

    I do like your suggestion to browse at a bookshop though. I always like that suggestion. Ha!

    • Yes, I often have a slump after a really, really good book. I have started to anticipate this situation and try to switch genres after a fantastic read to avoid unfair comparisons!

  4. Your suggestions are all excellent (and I’ve probably tried them all at some point or another!). I end up in slumps (or just bad moods about reading) when I feel pressured, either by books I’ve promised to read for book group, review copies, or even library books — so to snap out of it, I put aside the “have to” books and grab something from my shelves that catches my eye in the moment.

    • Every so often I feel pressured as well and then I have to remind myself that reading is not a job 😀 A few years ago I decided ‘Hang it, if I don’t review ARCs on time, so be it’. As a result, my Netgalley compliance is dreadful (60%) BUT I continue to get ARCs so I’m not worried!

  5. I think you have hit all the things I try. I would add one. Set aside a book which you are slugging through. Promise the book you will finish it later but not now. I usually get into slumps when I feel like I am reading what I have to read, not what i want to read. Once, in the midst of a slump, I walked around the library and perused the new books shelf. I found a book about reading Shakespeare with your children. I checked it out on a whim. I read that book for 9 weeks. It is all I wanted to read. I kept renewing it. I loved it. I wasn’t reading fast but I was reading deep and in the process I was out of my slump because I was reading what I wanted, at the pace I wanted.

  6. I don’t think I’ve ever not wanted to read. If I’m struggling with a heavy book I’ll often take a couple of hours off with a Georgette Heyer. The closest I came to a slump was a book about the Paris Commune. I read bits if it for a couple of years without ever finishing it.

    • The problem with a slump is that you WANT to read but nothing really appeals. My slumps have usually come about after reading a string of mediocre books – I start to crave something dazzling and engrossing. I know when I’m in danger of a slump because I’m not taking a book everywhere with me.

      Georgette Heyer is a perfect cure (as is Nancy Mitford and my recent discovery of the E. F. Benson ‘Queen Lucia’ novels).

  7. I find that keeping anywhere from 2-5 books on the go keeps me from getting into a slump. Right now I’m reading 4 books and want to finish them all by the end of the month, but usually at the beginning of the month I start by reading the beginnings of a number of books and then they usually have a staggered finish date, so when I finish one, I might read one I’m already reading, or start another, so then I always have something on the go. I hate that feeling of finishing something spectacular and not being able to find something afterwards!

    • Agree – I usually have 3 or 4 books on the go and they’re all quite different, so there’s usually something that suits my mood. My slumps mostly happen when I read a string of mediocre books.

  8. I tend to change the genre to an easygoing one. Maybe a historical fiction, thriller or mystery or just a very romantic thing where you really don’t have to think a lot of the plot! Yep, normally takes me back to my intended reads.
    I feel that sometimes one just have to read something easy going without much ado, to level out the other books which makes you think a little bit more of the plot, the story and the characters.

  9. I’m a very moody reader, but I always have (cough) sufficient books on hand to find something I want to read. By sufficient books, I’m talking a few shelves full (that I’ll admit to, anyway).

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