The Dreaded Reading Slump, and What to do About It

It happens to everyone, even librarians. Your world is set on its ear just enough that even the greatest of escape novels can't hold your attention. Even your favorite guilty pleasure reads are sitting untouched on your nightstand. You're just stuck. You're in a reading slump. Now what? 

Fear not! I, your friendly librarian, well-versed in reading slumps, am here to help! Here are my best tried and true tips for exiting the doldrums.

Got a favorite format? Great, try another one.

There was a time in my life when I thought that I would never read a book on a device, no sir no how. And then... slump... a friend of mine sent me a Kindle Paperwhite. The novelty of a new format tickled me. I loved being able to look up words on it while I was reading. Suddenly, a book that I had previously abandoned got a second shot just for the novelty of it. Learning to use Libby made me into a whole new sort of reading glutton. One that didn't even need a reading light at night. Added bonus: I put the Kindle and Libby app on my phone and now I read in a lot of random places, anytime I have a few spare minutes.

What are you really in the mood for?

For the bulk of my reading life, I took myself very seriously as a reader. Too seriously, really, but that's another post. I loved my highbrow literature (if it wasn't on a classics list somewhere at some point, I wasn't interested). But it turns out that what I really love to read are things that make me laugh out loud. Izzy Spellman got me through one particular winter when I repeatedly chastised myself for not tackling a classic Russian doorstopper. 

And as long as I'm on the subject, let's talk about not chastising yourself for what you are or aren't reading. If you have to, get yourself a book sleeve or make one out of a paper bag to hide it from yourself. (Hiding book covers from yourself concerns me a little. That's also a post for another day, but for now, tell yourself that you're doing it to protect yourself from your very pretentious frenemy who has read everything and brags about all the crossword puzzles they complete—that feels better, doesn't it?)

What are you doing with your time?

I do laundry. Lots of laundry. And I wash dishes. The upshot is that my hands stay busy and that's not terribly conducive to holding a book and turning pages. Lots of people have this issue, and while many dedicated readers would tell you that you need to set aside time for reading, that simply isn't my reality. That's where audiobooks come to my rescue. Tons of titles are available through Libby, Hoopla, or in the library on CD. If you need help figuring out what books to listen to, check the Audie Awards, specifically dedicated to excellent audiobook productions.

Ask for recommendations.

Know what I am? A librarian. Know what my favorite thing to do is? Talk about books. True story. Ask me about it. Ask me about what I'm reading or what my favorite book from last year was. And if you don't like what I tell you or have already tried and ditched one of my recommendations, ask someone else. A friend. Another librarian. I can't stress this point enough: we love to recommend books. We read reviews of books we never intend to read ourselves just so that when someone comes in with that look in their eyes, we are ready to go. Think of us as booky first responders. We're here to help.

Don't fight it.

This is a stunner so you might want to sit down. Maybe just... don't read for a while? Know what can be really fun? Podcasts. TV. NPR. A playlist of all the songs you jammed out to in high school. Let your brain be entertained by other things. Books will still be there when you're ready to pick one up again. Promise.