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Don’t feel like reading?
You can’t read a book not because you don’t have time but because you just can’t.
It’s official — you are in the reading slump.
And your mind & body may feel like no books are allowed here.
It’s tough to pick up a new book. And even if you do pick it up, you can’t finish the first chapter or even less.
Sometimes it looks like this:
In this article, I’ll discuss the possible causes of the reading slump in this article. I have also contacted fantastic book bloggers and asked for their advice on getting out of the reading slump.
Then I will proceed with a few reading slump book recommendations and finish with frequently asked questions about reading slump.
Causes of a reading slump
We’ve all been here—that time when you just couldn’t read.
The worst part is how you feel during the reading slump.
Especially if you are an active reader in your good days.
It is easy to start demanding too much of yourself and stressing over unfinished books or how many books are still there for you.
But here’s the thing:
- It’s OK to have a reading slump.
- It’s OK NOT to read anything.
- It’s OK not to read anything for a week/month/longer if your mind & body feels like it.
In this article, I will try to help you fix your reading slump, but first of all — let’s find out some of the most common reasons for a reading slump.
Overwhelming reading goals and expectations
I experienced this a couple of years ago when I just discovered the amazing world of bookstragram and the first reading marathons.
I remember signing up for a reading challenge — read 50 books yearly. It sounded fantastic but there was a problem: I haven’t kept track of how many books I read in a month or year before.
And because of that, this is how the challenge ended:
I started reading as quickly as possible when I got excited about the challenge.
But to read 50 books a year, you must read around four books per month. And this was different from my average reading pace.
When I realized it (early spring), I was so stressed and burned out that I couldn’t pick up a book.
By the way, we have an article on how to set and achieve your goals (including your reading goals too).
If you set high reading goals that would be great but challenging, you may push yourself into a reading slump.
Lack of energy or mental overload
Reading is a cognitive activity that makes our brains think. This means we should have a particular mental capacity to pick a book.
And if you’ve been experiencing something that drains lots of your brain juice and mental power — there is no wonder you may end up in a reading slump.
In this article, Sarah Wendell described the massive reading slump book lovers were in during the time of COVID.
The overall emotional stress was immense, and people didn’t have the mental capacity to fascinating new stories.
Lack of motivation
Different things may cause a lack of reading motivation.
For example, you’ve started reading a book, and after a chapter or two, you realize you are not enjoying it.
If you are not used to leaving books unread, you may end up struggling through the book and having reading burnout as a result.
The Book Hangover
Contrary to the previous point, you may have just read a brilliant book that was a game-changer for you, and now you are in a book hangover.
The book hangover is where you cannot pick up a new book because you are still under the impression of your previous reading experience.
Aisha has described it pretty well in this Twitter post:
Distractions and time management
Now this one is interesting. Every time you try to read, something happens, some distraction occurs, and you are not reading again. Can you get a reading slump because you can’t focus properly?
According to Joshua Craig from BookRiot, if you can’t concentrate on reading because external stimuli keep distracting you, hardly can it be called a reading slump.
In my opinion, if you experience these distractions day after day for an extended period, your mind may form a negative pattern with reading. Whenever you pick a book, it is more challenging for you to focus on it.
I’m not an expert here, and I’m curious about your thoughts.
Let me know in the comments down below.
Mental health issues
Sometimes the reason for your reading burnout is unrelated to your recent reading experience.
In this thread on Reddit, someone with depression says they are going through a massive reading slump.
If you feel like the reasons for your reading slump may be deep inside, it is very recommended to consult a health professional.
Stuck in a reading slump: What Book Bloggers Say
I’ve contacted fantastic book bloggers to ask for their #1 tip to get out of the reading slump.
Below you will find a list of quotes from book bloggers about the best ways to get out of the reading slump:
Miranda from @literary.moments
“Picking up an old favorite will always get me out of a slump.
It can be a book I read when I was little, or one of the books I’ve given five stars.
Immerse yourself in those other worlds, and remind yourself why you you love to read.
Even if you already know the ending, you will experience the emotions all over again with a reread.”
Nathalie from @booksandsparkles
“First of all, I want to state that it’s okay to have a reading slump.
Most of the time we feel as if we fail, but it happens to most readers now and than!
Some tips:- try another genre! Fantasy reader? Those worlds can have some deep impact, and switching to a nice fluffy feelgood could help. And the other way around of course.
Also, pick up an old favourite. Maybe returning to a familiar world bring you to ease and gets youbout of that slump.
Or try a thin book. Something that doesn’t scare you already by the size of it.
Last: let it be, again – it’s okay to take a break now and then and be kind to yourself.”
Bruna from @bruandbooks
“For an avid reader, there’s nothing worse than going through a reading slump.
You see all the incredible books on your TBR, just waiting to be picked up.
Deep inside, you want to want to read. But you just can’t. Nothing sparks your interest. No book is good enough.
What I’ve learned after going though a couple of these phases is:
– Give yourself time. Don’t force yourself to read anything. Take a few days off and forget about reading for a bit (maybe even weeks!)
– Fill your time with comfort shows and movies. Re-watch Twilight, Gilmore Girls, or whatever makes you happy.
– After a few days (or weeks), go to a bookstore or library. Be around books, and see how you feel.
– If you think you’re ready to pick up a book again, try your comfort zone genre. Do you usually love thrillers? Pick one. Ask friends or check bookstagram for tips of unputdownable books.
– Pick up a short book. Nothing better than emerging from a reading slump by feeling the accomplishment of finishing a book!”
Summarizing: X tips to get out of the reading slump
Change your reading habits
Are you used to reading on your favorite couch? Try a new place.
The idea is to change your reading habits and ignite the reading desire from changing settings.
Here are a couple of ways to change your reading routine:
- if the weather allows, try reading in the park
- read 5-10 minutes before sleep
- buy a new reading accessory
- try reading aloud for a couple of minutes
Re-reading the old favorite
This is one of the most popular recommendations; to me, it works too!
So if you have a favorite book, grab it and give it a go.
Chances are you’ll feel positive emotions from the book you love and, as a result, will break the vicious cycle of a reading slump.
Pick a book that is rated well and not long
Go to Short Books shelf on Goodreads and choose a well-rated book (I’d recommend 4+).
Go to the bookstore or library
Whenever I go to the bookstore, I see a book I want to read or something new that looks promising.
That’s why visiting a place surrounded by books may be a great way to fight your reading slump.
Fill in empty time frames with books
I saw this suggestion on Reddit — try to read in small time frames you have during the day.
Waiting until the water boils? Read a few pages.
Going to poop? Read a few pages.
This one can be combined with another popular suggestion to try and read the first pages of different books.
This way, you are not putting pressure on yourself, “I took this book; now I have to finish it.”
Instead, play the role of book sommelier.
Try a new genre
Reading one and the same type of books for an extended period may lead to a reading slump.
When I was reading Robin Hobb books, I was so into it at first, but honestly, I had to take a break before starting to read the third book about Fitz.
I enjoyed the story, but for some reason, it took me more time to finish every chapter of the third book, and I decided it was time for a break.
Below you will find some recommendations of books to get you out of the reading slump in different genres.
Joining a reading group or community
This is one of the most motivating ways to keep up with reading and get out of the reading slump.
Book clubs are fun, and when you know the book discussion will be on Day X, you will do your best to finish the book.
Together with friends, we started a book club two years ago. And I have to say this was one of the most productive years — 12 additional books have been read during that year thanks to book club only.
Also, if you have a friend who doesn’t mind joining you on a reading challenge — you two can start reading a book together.
For example, sometimes I’m reading the same book with my husband. We share our opinions as the story progresses; it is a lot of fun and support.
Set realistic reading goals
If the reason lies in the numbers game, I recommend revising your reading goals and existing marathons/reading challenges you may be participating in.
All those numbers look nice, but it’s not for everyone. And from my personal experience, it can be very stressful to set a challenge and then realize you are not making it.
Seeing how others read 100 books in a year is even worse.
My usual reading speed is two books per month (maybe three if I find an exciting audiobook).
So yes, I’m jealous of people who read more, and I always imagine that they read more just because they are very rich and don’t have to work a lot and have time and mood for reading.
Engage in alternative forms of reading (audiobooks, graphic novels, etc.)
If you haven’t tried audiobooks yet, then you should give it a try 😁
It can be a game changer as you start enjoying new stories as you go for a walk, during your commute, or just when cleaning up your house.
At Booklyst, we have a review of The Song of Achilles audiobook — I will never forget this book, and I first listened to it as an audiobook.
And if you are up to trying something else — here is the link to Audible.
Reading Slump Books Recommendations
In this section, I’d like to share a few book recommendations to get you out of the reading slump.
The Maid by Nita Prose — a fun and cozy mystery story
I’m putting this on the top of the list as this book actually got me out of the reading slump last December.
I was hoping you could read about my personal experience with this book here.
The Maid by Nita Prose is a locked-room mystery.
The main character, Molly Gray, works as a maid at a prestigious hotel, and to say that she is a good worker is to say nothing.
Molly is obsessed with cleaning and proper etiquette. And her skills are superior.
Molly is a character who struggles with social skills and who doesn’t understand people’s true meanings or intentions immediately.
One day, Molly is cleaning a room of a famous and wealthy guest and finds him dead in his bed.
And so the story begins.
The Secret Place by Tana French — a school-set thriller to engage you
Tana French is a famous mystery writer, and The Secret Place is the book I read first, and it made me want to read more of her books.
In The Secret Place, two detectives, Stephen Moran and Antoinette Conway, team up to solve the case of the boy who was found murdered at a girls’ boarding school.
Two detectives decide to dig deeper when a mysterious note, “I KNOW WHO KILLED HIM” is found in the school.
They do, and they find a complicated private world of teenage girls, which turns out to be far more dangerous and mysterious than they could have guessed.
The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller — a beautiful story to fall in love with reading again
You know everything that is going to happen in this story.
And you still love it and care for everyone.
Because it is beautiful. Melodic. And very sad.
This is a retelling of the classic Greek myth of Achilles, the greatest warrior of Greece.
The book starts with Patroclus sharing his memories about how he met Achilles, how both began training under the centaur Chiron and how their emotional connection grew with every year they spent together.
When Helen of Sparta runs away with Paris, Patroclus, and Achilles join Agamemnon on the siege of Troy.
The terrible fate is yet to come, and our hearts are yet to be broken.
For me, this story is an embodiment of beauty. It charms, it enchants, it devours. A story that can get you out of the reading slump.
And if you have read The Song of Achilles already, we also have a list of similar books here.
Exhalation by Ted Chiang — short reading for a distracted mind
Devoting yourself to a book of 300+ pages may sound too much when you are in a reading slump. This is where short stories should come into play.
Exhalation by Ted Chiang is a beautiful short story collection that tackles many thought-provoking questions.
Would you change your past if you had a chance to?
How will the concepts of choice and free work be if humanity discovers alternate universes?
Exhalation is the latest stories collection by Ted Chiang.
And if you haven’t read his Stories of Your Life and Others — I envy you.
One of the story from this collection was made into a film, Arrival, with Amy Adams in the leading role.
Here is the link to Amazon for your convenience.
The Midnight Library by Matt Haig — a good book for your soul & mind
Imagine that there is a special place between life and death. And this place is a library.
This is where the main character of The Midnight Library ends up.
In this fantastic place, Nora Seed is granted a unique opportunity — to read through her personal “book of regrets” and be able to live the lives she could have lived.
Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo — unbelievable heist in fantasy settings
Kaz Brekker, also called “Dirtyhands,” is a criminal mastermind who has a chance to lead the most incredible heist.
The stakes are high, and Kaz is looking for a perfect team to help him achieve this goal.
He recruits six outcasts, everyone with their unique stories and backgrounds, and now they start to work for the common cause while navigating their struggles and conflicts.
In my book, if you’d like to try a new genre, this heist fantasy is a perfect choice. I love it so much that I also have an article about books like Six of Crows.
Why Has Nobody Told Me This Before? by Julie Smith — a self-help book that helps
Sometimes a good non-fiction or self-help book is what you need during a reading slump.
Why Has Nobody Told Me This Before? by Julie Smith is a good self-help book that teaches us to accept ourselves and to reach win-win agreements with our bodies and minds too.
What I liked most about this book is how it addresses emotions. What are emotions, why do we react as we react, etc. — it was so simple yet eye-opening, and I loved it.
We have a full review of the book here.
And here is the link to Amazon if you’d like to check it out.
Monster by Naoki Urasawa — manga to change the perspective
I’m finishing up this list of recommendations with manga — in case you are game to try a new format and genre.
Dr. Kenzo Tenma is a prodigy surgeon. When he is put before a choice: save the city’s mayor or save a critically wounded little boy who got to emergency a few minutes ago — Tenma risks his career and decides to save the child.
And who would have known that Tenma saved someone who would become a monster?
This manga is my top favorite one. I like how the characters’ emotions are demonstrated here and how the story develops with exciting plot twists.
If you’ve been wondering about manga for quite some time and if you like unique storylines — this one is for you.
FAQs about a reading slump
What is a reading slump mean?
A reading slump is when you do not desire to read books. And when you try, you cannot get interested in the story and cannot keep reading.
How do you deal with a reading slump?
Re-reading your old favorite, joining the book club, and trying a new format are all possible ways to deal with a reading slump. But first of all — do not be too hard on yourself.
What are the different types of reading slumps?
You may have a reading slump because:
- You’ve read too much recently.
- You do not enjoy the stories you are reading.
- You have recently finished a fantastic book and need help finding another one that excites you.
Why do I lose interest in reading?
Possible reasons may be:
- Numbers game — if you are reading to reach reading goals.
- Boring books — you may lose interest in reading if you force yourself to finish the books you are not enjoying.
- You may be tired and mentally drained, and your body & mind do not have the mental capacity for reading.
What is a dry reading?
Dry reading or dry books are types of books and texts that are boring. They do not have vivid language and do not spark emotions. Reading research papers and academic texts may serve as examples of dry reading.
Reading slumps happen. And they hurt.
But there are realistic ways to get you out of the reading burnout.
Let’s summarize this article with a short list of actionable tips to get out of the reading slump:
- Changing reading habits
- Re-reading favorite book
- Reading a short book with a good rating
- Going to the library or bookstore
- Trying reading instead of scrolling
- Finding a reading buddy or joining a book club
- Setting achievable reading goals
- Trying a new genre or format
Please share this article with your friends and let me know your thoughts in the comments down below.