In the bookish community, you sometimes find someone going through a reading slump. In the booktube community this is sometimes due to stress and overwhelm, from both my observation and a few videos on the topic. A booktuber will feel pressure to read certain books or a certain number of books a month, and they feel obligated to read and enjoy books sent to them from publishers — books they sometimes find themselves uninterested in.
The solution, likely, is to stop caring. Stop caring about how many books you read. Stop worrying over potentially ticking off the publishers. Read what you want or what’s the point, right? Easier said than done, but we all read because we love stories. And while that love may wane sometimes, it doesn’t dry up.
I don’t have experience with every kind of slump, but I do understand worrying that free books will dry up, especially from authors you like. As far as actual slumps go, though, there have been three significant periods in my life that I’ve found myself not reading very much.
Once, when I was in middle school and reading too much YA contemporary romance. I missed my supernatural books and didn’t know where to find them. I eventually got out of this by reading adult books for a while. At the time, most YA books lasted me about a day. Adult books were much longer and harder to read. Lots of fun new giant words. I literally had to carry a dictionary around with me. ^_^
The next slump happened in college. I couldn’t figure out how to balance school work and reading. I probably read 7 books a year. This eventually led to being incredibly out of the habit, so my reading time slowly filled up with inessential things, and I had to make an actual effort to get it back. It literally took years, and a third slump happened while still recovering from this one.
When I finally got back to writing regularly after a drought, I knew I needed to read to keep the creative river from getting stagnant and drying out. Except every time I picked up a book, I had two thoughts: 1 – this isn’t any better than anything I can do so why am I not good enough? Or 2 – why is everyone better than me? – which was the far more debilitating mindset, and I still think that at least once a month.
Regardless of my mindset, I’m just off-balance when I’m not reading. And it wasn’t until I read The Cursed Child play a couple of years ago, that I realized how off-balance I was. I know a lot of Americans want to bitch about the book, and it wasn’t well-written, but I’m not a purist when it comes to adaptations, especially stage adaptations. Things change. Get over it. It was interesting and entertaining, and I bet the stage show is amazing.
But it was this book in particular because One: I wanted to read it, so screw my dreary mood. Two: it’s a play, so no green-eyed monster to rear its giant, bloated, scaly dragon head. Three: it’s Harry Potter. And four: I read the largest chunk of it on a freezing, rainy day at work in January. I walked around reading like I used to back in the day, and I realized then that I wasn’t trying hard enough to read regularly again. I also realized then how much I missed curling up with a book.
At the time, I’d been trying for three years to read regularly again after burning myself out on Sookie Stackhouse books. It wasn’t going too well. I finally talked myself into signing up for a Goodreads reading challenge. And it helped, if only by showing me how little I was actually reading. I used to devour books. Like, what had happened to me? My library card was, and still is, expired. I wasn’t buying books. I barely read the ones I had.
For a spell, I thought my lack of reading was because I couldn’t concentrate. Side effect of being partially crazy. But when I picked up the Four Past Midnight anthology by Stephen King and a YA fairytale anthology titled Grimm, it was obvious the problem was that I didn’t like what I was reading. I had no trouble reading either of those anthologies, or a paranormal novel with witches.
So after I read The Cursed Child, I made a point to actually clear out space for reading instead of squeezing it in during showers, and pockets of downtime at work, and sometimes right before bed when I was too tired to read more than a couple of pages. In addition, I read through the jealously until it eventually faded, and then I stopped forcing myself to read crap I didn’t like until I felt like my bookworm self again. 😛
I’m likely never going to read hundreds of books a year again, but I can read more than seven.