Reading Slump Files

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.

via GIPHY

6 Responses to Reading Slump Files

  1. I go through reading highs and lows, too. It’s impossible to stay consistent because of a) not always finding books I want to read b)feeling obligated to read anything just shuts me down – even books by indie authors who need reviews and who I’ve previously loved and c) I get bogged down by those same doubts and jealousies.
    I’m glad you re-discovered your love of reading.
    I don’t always like things everyone else likes and sometimes I like books that no one else I know seems to like – it’s just the way it is.
    I liked Cursed Child – it was really interesting, fun to read, and it made me feel a bit better about some of my “mood movements” for dialogue when I read “gestured” in Rowling’s work. Maybe I’m not the only one who says “gestured excitedly” or “looked shocked” while trying to figure out how to convey emotion within a set piece of dialogue between characters. I thought Rowling’s dialogue was top-notch and I’m sure the play is awesome!

    • Yay! You liked Cursed Child!! I don’t see anything wrong with gesturing excitedly. 🙂 I’m a grammar snob for sure, but at some point, it doesn’t matter, like when we have exciting and magical things going down in the Ministry of Magic.

      Feeling obligated to read something is a definite mood killer.

  2. Aw, Sookie!
    I haven’t read or seen A Cursed Child. Would I get shot if I admit I hadn’t even heard of it? (Yeah, I have my head in the sand sometimes). I see books and their movies/plays as two different things. So, I don’t get hung up on the differences or similarities either.
    As to reading slumps, I had a gigantic one all through high school, college and even beyond for about ten years.It had to do with time. I was just way too busy with school, sports, music, and work, that reading? Lol! I did have to sleep. And then after college I moved to Europe and studied there. Even when my first kids came, I dove into other crafts and hobbies. Plus, English books weren’t readily available, and it took a bit for my German to reach the point I didn’t have to stop and look up words a half dozen times on each page. So yeah, that made for an almost 20 year reading pause. Wow. I’d never thought about it before. Guess I’m making up for it now 😉

    Glad you found your reading mojo and balance again!

    • Lol! You’ve more than made up for it now. Cursed Child is playing in New York. I’m hoping it comes to Nashville at some point.

      I can’t imagine living somewhere and all the books are in French or something.

  3. I’ve made it a point to no longer beta read or accept ARCs because it turns reading into an obligation. Even a good book becomes a chore if I make it my own personal ‘assignment’ to read it. Taking it one step further, I can’t do reading challenges anymore for this same reason (that’s why I always feel impressed that you do…and you write novels on top of it all!). Most of the time if I’m reading a friend’s novel, I won’t even tell him/her, because it becomes too much pressure–to finish it, to like it, to leave it a nice review, etc. (The only person I tell is you because you already know I read slow and we both know I’m gonna love your book). Still, even with all of the above parameters, I only ever have time to read right before bed, when I’m “too tired to read more than a couple of pages” like you said above. It sucks because I soooooo love reading. Reading regularly does something awesome to my psyche; like, I’m a happy person when I’m clocking in those hours.

    • As long as the reading challenges motivate me, I’ll do them. ARCs definitely stress me out when there’s a set time limit. I don’t want a clock chasing me while I read! I still sometimes only read before bed, and I’ll read like a page or two and pass out. But I can definitely second the awesomeness for the psyche! When I’m reading a lot, I’m so excited about life. ^_^

Hi! ^_^