How To Fight Your Way Out Of A Reading Slump
By Sumaiyya Naseem (@sumaiyya.books)
Reading slumps are the worst. If you’ve never experienced one, I’d say consider yourself really lucky because anything that makes you not want to read could only be purely evil.
I’ve been in a few reading slumps in the last two years, and most of them lasted a couple of weeks. Just imagining all the books I could have read during that time fills me with anguish.
When a reading slump sets in, it’s important to ask ourselves this question: Why did this happen to me?
Tiredness because of life and the last book you read are usually the two major causes of reading slumps. It’s important to know the reason because there’s a chance your slump won’t go away unless you fix the initial problem.
A book could have left you feeling overwhelmed (re: book hangover), or it was simply underwhelming and uninspiring (re: a dull, 1 star read). A reading slump could also set in when you’re going through a rough patch in life, either because of a situation that’s come up or because you might be mentally and/or emotionally distressed. Moodiness and depression tend to cause my slumps.
In any case, while you figure out a way to solve the problem, here are fun ways to deal with the reading slump:
Skip reading for some days.
Before trying the tips that follow, make the conscious to not read for a few days. This will help you feel more in control of the slump. It’ll be like you gave yourself the break from reading to focus on other things that bring you joy or comfort.
TV and Film to The Rescue
Ready the Popcorn.
Gift yourself an evening that smells like popcorn and brings back all the feels; watch your favorite feel-good film. The film that works for me is About Time, a story of a young man who discovers he can travel in time and uses this fabulous ability to find love. Rachel McAdams plays Mary, an American in London who works as a reader for a publisher, whereas our time traveler is Domnhall Gleeson, a lifesaving lawyer. The cute duo’s story and the ultimate lesson underlining it all makes this the perfect romcom for all seasons and slumps.
Sometimes One Film is Not Enough: Binge Time!
In my severe slumps I allow myself to binge on new tv shows or any of my old favorites. Whether it’s Friends, Gilmore Girls or something chilling like Supernatural or The Walking Dead; binge to distract yourself from your mood.
Harry Potter Knows The Magic Word
Harry knows ALL the magic words! I love watching The Philosopher’s Stone in my slumps or generally whenever I feel I need something cheerful. There’s nothing quite like a childhood classic.
Speaking of Childhood Classics..
Home Alone, Baby’s Day Out, Hocus Pocus and Matilda are some other films that work! Anything that takes you right back to your childhood can do the trick.
Get Things Done
I’m fascinated by Japanese culture, especially because of their discipline and minimalism. Here’s how you can channel these to fix your slump.
Unhaul For Your Mind’s Sake
Whether it’s an excess of clothes, books or homeware; go through your stuff to set aside things for donation. Unhauling your excess possessions will clear your head and make you feel better. I’m a believer in minimalism, but I’m not able to apply this to my life as much as I want to. So whenever I’m in a slump I clear out my living space of things I don’t need but have piled up. My principle is that if I’m not using it, it’s better off being used by someone else (Marie Kondo talks about something similar!)
Take Care of Your Space
Once you’ve cleared out your space, zero in on the dirt and mess. You know your space and you know what it needs. Bring it to its best state of cleanliness because this will help your mind more than you realize.
A Little TLC Never Hurts Anyone
This bit is all about channeling hygge in your space. Hygge is the Danish word for feelings of “coziness”. So from cookies and candles to warm baths; this is what you need to try!
Let the Baking Begin
Bake some cookies or cupcakes; the enticing and comforting aroma of freshly baked goodness will lift your spirits. The process of baking can be very therapeutic as well. There’s also nothing quite like sharing what you’ve made with family and friends.
TLC for the Self
Taking care of your mind and body will help you rejuvenate from the inside out. Push yourself to workout, whether it’s a quick jog or a full routine, take a shower and then prepare the relaxing conditions for a bath. I usually like to light a candle, put on some music and give myself a hair or foot massage. I might even put on a clay mask and go for the full effect. The main thing is to give time for yourself and not dwell over the fact that you’re in a life or reading slump.
The Hygge Checklist:
Candles or essential oil diffusers
Cozy socks and blanket
Hot Chocolates or Ice Cream
Return To The Books
Get a New Book
This is probably bad behavior for some of us, but nothing fixes a reading slump like visiting the library or bookstore. First, the space itself will refresh your bookish side. Second, buying or borrowing a book you’ve been excited about will most likely bring back that motivation to read. Don’t really have a book in mind? The best thing might be to take your time browsing the shelves, reading the blurbs and speaking to the bookstore clerk or librarian about new books or recommendations they might have.
Plan A Bookish Date
A bookish friend might just be what you need! Plan a bookish date; call up the friend who you can meet for coffee, bring your favorite books or recent reads and have a mini book club-like session. This will help you more than you know. In the end, if it doesn’t help you out of your slump, it will at least give you a nice conversation to think about and a friendship to strengthen.
Plan a Buddy Read
One thing I love doing with my friend is visiting our local bookstore and shopping for books together. With our new purchases we visit the coffee shop that’s available inside the store. Do something similar with your friend and maybe buy the same book that you buddy read together. You could even plan a buddy read with your bookstagram friend! Buddy reads are all about reading the same book at the same time and discussing it as you make progress. Pick something light and fun, or whatever is your definition of an escapist read.
I love watching BookTube when I’m in a slump or just want Bookish updates without the scrolling and tapping. BookTube videos like wrap-ups and book hauls instantly catch my attention. It’s a fun way to stay connected to books even if you’re not in the mood to read.
Overall, there’s no simple solution to reading slumps; they’re evil for a reason. You have to find the cause first and try to fix it. If the slump persists, try any of the above and enjoy the steps. You’ll eventually find refuge in a good book; we’re booklovers, we never stray too far.
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About the Author
Sumaiyya Naseem is a bibliophile from Saudi Arabia, and while she reads a bit of everything she has a keen interest in women’s fiction and immigrant stories. She shares her literary journey on Instagram (@sumaiyya.books) and is a freelance editor specializing in narratives set in Saudi Arabia. Sumaiyya is passionate about the written word and dreams of writing her own story one day.
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