Reading Tips

Reading Slumps: Everything You Need To Know

Reading slumps happen to even the most thoughtful, dedicated, and diligent of readers.

Last Updated on May 12, 2024 by BiblioLifestyle

How to Overcome a Reading Slump: Practical Tips and Alternative Activities

A reading slump is common for many readers, and it happens to even the most thoughtful, dedicated, and diligent readers.  We’ve all been there: You’re reading a book, and suddenly you can’t seem to get into it.  You try reading for hours, but your mind won’t focus.  You might even start reading other books, but you can’t seem to finish them either.  This is called a reading slump.  Don’t worry, though!  This article will discuss everything you need to know about reading slumps and how to overcome them.  We will also provide a list of alternative activities that are book or literary-related that readers can do when they are in a reading slump.  Plus, you’ll get some practical tips to help you start reading again!

What is a reading slump?

A reading slump is a phase where you lose interest in reading.  It’s when you’re reading a book, and you can’t get into it, and you don’t want to read anymore.  You know you’re in a reading slump when you try reading, but your mind won’t focus, and no matter what you do, the words on the page fail to captivate you.  When picking up any book, even the ones you love, it feels like picking up a hundred-pound rock.

According to Urban Dictionary, a reading slump is defined as “a reader’s worst nightmare” and “not being able to pick up a book and read because you just can’t, you just can’t read.”

What are the different types of reading slumps?

Reading slumps can come in different forms and for different reasons. Some common types of reading slumps include the “I’ve read too much” slump, the “I don’t know what to read next” slump, and the “it’s been a while since I’ve read anything” slump. Depending on the type of slump, there are different things you can do to get out of it.

How to Overcome a Reading Slump: Practical Tips

How do you get into a reading slump?

A reading slump can happen due to various reasons, some of which include a busy lifestyle or a significant life change such as a move or a new job.  Reading slumps can also happen because of a lack of motivation or simply not finding good books to read.

It’s very important to remember that reading slumps happen to even the most thoughtful, dedicated, and diligent readers.

How do you know if you are in a reading slump?

You know you are in a reading slump when you don’t want to read, feel overwhelmed or uninterested in reading, and struggle to focus on reading.  If you find yourself not having the energy or motivation to pick up a book, it’s likely that you are in a reading slump.  Other signs include reading a book and not being able to remember what you’ve read or reading the same passage or page over and over again without making progress.

When a reader is in a reading slump, the activity can feel labored, and it may become difficult to concentrate on reading.  A list of signs that a reader is in a reading slump include:

  • You have a lack of motivation to read.
  • You can’t seem to find the right book to read.
  • You feel disconnected from books and reading.
  • You’re experiencing difficulty concentrating on reading for long periods of time.
  • You constantly need to reread passages or pages.
  • Not being able to remember what has been read.
  • Feeling overwhelmed with reading choices or unable to pick out a new book.
  • You’re stressed about how much you should be reading to achieve your goals.
  • Complete disinterest in your TBR pile.

If you find yourself feeling this way, it’s important to take a break from reading and try some of our alternative activities listed below.

Why have I lost the desire to read?

If you’ve lost the desire to read, it could be because of a variety of reasons. It might be due to stress or fatigue from work or school, lack of access to books you’re interested in, too much technology and screen time, or lack of motivation. It’s important to take some time to reflect on what might be causing this lack of motivation or desire and try to address it. Take a break, try something new, and come back to reading when you’re ready.

How long do reading slumps last?

Some reading slumps last a day, others weeks, months, or even years.  How long a reading slump lasts is entirely different for each reader.

How to Overcome a Reading Slump

Common causes of reading slumps

If you are experiencing a reading slump, you might wonder how you got here.  Here are some of the most common causes of reading slumps:

– You’re trying to read too much at once.

When you try to juggle multiple books, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and lose focus.  So instead, stick to reading one book at a time until you finish it.

– You’re reading material that isn’t interesting to you.

It’s important to find books that YOU are interested in reading.  Please don’t force yourself to read something because it’s supposed to be good for you or because everyone is reading it.  If you’re not enjoying it, put it down and find something else.  Life is too short to reading something that isn’t bringing you joy!

– Life is too chaotic or busy right now.

We all go through periods when life is just too hectic.  Maybe you’ve started a new job, or you’re taking care of a sick family member.  Whatever the reason, taking a break from reading is OK when life gets too chaotic.  Just make sure to pick up your book again when things settle down!

– You’re reading too much of the same genre.

If you find that you’re only reading books in the same genre, it might be time to switch things up and try something new!  Stepping out of your comfort zone can jump-start your love for reading again.  Try picking up a book in a genre you usually wouldn’t read, or even better, ask a friend, bookseller, or librarian for recommendations outside your go-to genres.

– You’re reading books that are too long.

If you find yourself reading a lot of 600+ page books, it might be time to try something shorter.  Sometimes, reading a shorter book can help break the reading slump cycle because you can finish it and feel accomplished.

How to Start Reading Again After a Reading Slump

How do you get out of reading slumps?

If you are currently in a reading slump, one of the things on your mind is getting out of the slump and getting back into the groove of reading.  Here are some tips on how you can get over a reading slump when you want to be reading:

– Take a break from reading altogether.

Sometimes all you need is some time away from books. Try doing other activities you enjoy, such as listening to music, spending time with friends and family, or watching movies.

– Start with a shorter book.

As we mentioned before, sometimes reading a shorter book can help break the reading slump cycle because you can finish it and feel accomplished. If you’re reading a tome, try switching to something shorter – a novella, a short story collection, a book of poetry, or even a magazine.

– Find a book that YOU are interested in reading.

It’s important to find books that interest you, so you want to pick them up and read them. Please don’t force yourself to read something because it’s supposed to be good for you.

– Take your time reading.

There is no rush to finish a book! Instead, if you find yourself struggling to focus, take your time and read a little bit each day until you finish it. Slow and steady wins the race!

How to Overcome a Reading Slump and Start Reading Again

– Experiment with new books and genres.

Maybe the books you were trying to read when you ended up in a slump are not what you need right now.  Turn to your favorite genre, break free of your literary confines, and try something new.  Put together a book stack of new possibilities and read a few pages of each until one catches your attention.

– Change reading formats.

There are so many different ways to read.  You can consume books via e-books, audiobooks, or print.  If you’re struggling to focus on print or sit still, listen to an audiobook while you exercise or do chores.  If you want to sit down and unwind, pause your audiobook and pick up a print book or e-reader.

– Set the mood.

Making changes to your physical environment can work wonders.  If the weather is nice, take your book and read outside.  If you have some extra time, do a little cleaning up, grab a blanket, light your favorite candle, make your favorite beverage, grab some snacks and create a cozy reading atmosphere tailored just for you.

– Be mindful of your phone and time spent on social media.

Cell phones and social media can be great tools or bad influences on your reading life.  When reading feels hard, or you’re going through a slump, turn off notifications and resist the urge to reach for your phone every minute.  Likewise, if you are active in the online book community, resist the urge to scroll through social media.  Sometimes seeing how much others are reading and how little you are can negatively impact you.  Plus, the more time you spend off your phone, the more time you have to read!

– Surround yourself with book-related things.

Even though you aren’t actually reading, sometimes doing things that involve books can spark the joy of reading in your life again.  Some book-related activities include but are not limited to:  listening to bookish podcasts, browsing your favorite book accounts online, reading reviews, reading or listening to author interviews, attending virtual events, talking to your book friends, visiting your local bookstore or library, and or asking readers you trust for help.

Reading Slump: Visit a Bookstore

Alternative activities to do when you’re in a reading slump

When you’re in a reading slump, sometimes you need to take a break from trying to read books.  If reading isn’t working for you right now, don’t pressure yourself.  Your books will be there waiting for you when you’re ready!  If you’re still struggling, here are some alternative book-related activities:

– Visit your local library or bookstore.

Even though you cannot concentrate on the words on the page, browsing through books can be therapeutic.  Take your time walking around and looking at the covers and spines.  Maybe you’ll find a book that looks interesting, and you can return to it when you’re feeling better.

– Organize your bookshelves.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by your reading slump, take a break and do something productive with your time.  Cleaning up your bookshelves can be therapeutic and give you a chance to revisit some old favorites.

– Write in a journal.

Sometimes it helps to get your thoughts out of your head and onto paper (or screen).  Writing in a journal can be a great way to process your reading slump and figure out what you’re looking for in a book.

– Draw or paint.

If you’re feeling creative, try making some art inspired by your favorite books.  For example, you can draw the characters, paint the cover art, or doodle in the margins.

Reading Slump: Alternative Activities

– Listen to a podcast.

If you’re missing the sound of someone reading to you, try listening to a bookish podcast.  There are tons of great ones out there that will help scratch that reading itch.

– Talk to other people about reading.

Talking to other people about reading can help start your love for it again.  Ask a friend, family member, or even your bookseller or librarian what they’ve been reading lately.

– Go on a literary walking tour.

If you miss being around books, go on a literary walking tour of your city.  Many cities have tours that will take you to the homes and workplaces of famous authors.

– Watch a movie or TV show adaptation.

Sometimes, seeing a story come to life on the screen can help jump-start your reading again.  Then, after watching, the movie or show might inspire you to pick up the book and see how it compares.

Reading Slump: Visit a Museum

– Jigsaw Puzzles.

If you’re looking for an activity that’s a little more low-key, try working on a jigsaw puzzle.  You can find puzzles with bookish themes or one of your favorite paintings from an art museum.

– Visit local museums.

If you’re looking for something to do that’s not reading-related, try visiting a local museum. Many museums have exhibits with literary themes that can be enjoyable.

– Crosswords, word search, sudoku.

Doing these puzzling activities are a great low-key way to engage your brain.

– Cooking or baking.

Try making a dish from one of your favorite books, or bake something inspired by the cover art.  It’ll be a tasty way to take a break from reading and still feel connected to your favorite stories.

Tips to help when reading feels hard

Book recommendations for when you’re in a reading slump

If you’re ready to get back into the groove of reading and looking for specific book recommendations, there are three approaches I highly recommend:

  1. Revisit an old favorite.
  2. Pick up a shorter book.
  3. Try a new or different genre.

Revisit an old favorite

When I’m in a reading slump, revisiting an old favorite is a tried and true way of reigniting my love for reading and getting me out of my slump.  When I revisit the pages of my favorite books, I see characters I know, and it’s easy to get lost in the setting and events occurring because they feel comforting and familiar.

It’s like catching up with a long-lost friend, and the nostalgia of re-reading something I love reminds me of why I love books and reading, and it inspires me to start reading new books again. Plus, since you already know you love the book, there’s less pressure, and you don’t need to read it in its entirety. Sometimes, a few chapters or even a few pages are enough.

Personal favorites that I reread include:

  1. 84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff
  2. Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont by Elizabeth Taylor
  3. Heidi by Johanna Spyri
  4. Letters From Father Christmas by J.R.R. Tolkien
  5. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

Pick up a shorter book

If revisiting an old favorite isn’t your cup of tea, try picking up a shorter book. Sometimes, the idea of reading a thick novel can feel daunting and overwhelming when you’re already in a reading slump. Instead, opt for something shorter, like a novella or collection of short stories, to give you that quick win.

These books often have quick-paced plots and are easy to read, which can help you get out of your reading slump and back into the swing of things. Some recommendations for shorter books include:

  1. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
  2. Animal Farm by George Orwell
  3. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
  4. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
  5. We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson

Try a new or different genre

Sometimes, reading slumps can be caused by getting stuck in a rut with a particular genre. If you’re always reaching for thrillers and suddenly find yourself uninspired to read, try switching it up and picking up something in a different genre.

Discovering new genres can open up a whole new world of reading possibilities, and it can help you break out of your slump. Here are some genre recommendations to try:

  1. Fantasy – The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
  2. Memoir – The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
  3. Historical Fiction – All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
  4. Romance – The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang
  5. Mystery – And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

What are your tips to get out of a reading slump?

Let me know in the comments what tips and tricks have worked for you and the books that get you out of your reading slumps.

I hope these tips and activities help you overcome your reading slump!  Remember, you’re not alone.  Many readers around the world experience reading slumps, but the most important thing is that you don’t give up on reading altogether.  Just take a break, find something that interests you, and return to reading when ready.


Everything You Need To Know about Reading Slumps

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  1. Patricia Farber says:

    Those 6 tips are dynamic especially not read a best seller NYT when you just want a cozy. No Guilt. Terrific!

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