How to Get Over a Reading Slump

A pile of books, the Hague by Janelle Ward
Category: Reading

I don't know about you, but I always start out the year with an excess of gusto and some often misplaced confidence (two things, actually, with which I run most of my life). There's no project that I won't start, no event that I won't go to and no baking experiment that I won't attempt. And, it seems, no ridiculous reading challenge that I won't take on.

This year, on only the second day of January, I received a brief message from a book-loving friend that was impossible to ignore:

"95 books. One year. Fancy a challenge?"

Of course I did. I jumped at the idea. I wrote the numbers 1-95 under "2015" in my reading journal, and immediately dived into my first book, the wonderfully inspiring The Python Years by Michael Palin.

And yet, here we are, 14 days in the year and I'm still on that one book - falling behind my somewhat ridiculous end goal with every minute that passes.

It's pretty easy to fall into a reading slump, and I'm sure we've all experienced it. Work piles up, social commitments get a little too much, and all of a sudden that pile of unread paperbacks on your bedroom floor just doesn't look as appealing as slobbing out in front of a Die Hard marathon with one too many glasses of wine. One night of not reading turns into many, and before you know it, it's weeks since you've read anything that wasn't on an illuminated screen or printed on a packet of biscuits.

Never fear, my friends. I'm here to pull you out of that slump. Do one or all of the following, and you're bound to be nose-deep in a new novel before you can say "classic of the genre".

Schedule an hour to soak in the bath with Borges, or take yourself to your favourite cafe after work for a slice of cake and a coffee with Coupland 


1. Phone a Friend

Or email them, or call around to their house, or meet them for coffee - whatever you do, get in touch with a bookish buddy and get some inspiring book recommendations from them. Even your closest friends will often read totally different kinds of things to you, but they'll also know your tastes well, so will be able to recommend books that might be out of your usual style but that you'll none the less enjoy. I hardly ever leave a friend's house without a bag full of books that they've insisted upon lending me. And, if the thrill of a new title doesn't get you reading, the shame of not having finished a borrowed book will!


2. Join the Library

We all love libraries - in theory. We'll argue to the death about how necessary they are, and we'll march our nieces and nephews to the local one to sign them up before they can even roll over onto their bellies. But many of us aren't even members of our local library, preferring instead to just buy books and build up a collection of our own. I'm particularly guilty of this. And yet the library is quite literally a wonderland of books, full of all the titles that you could ever want to read - and they let you take those books away, for free! Any reading slump can be cured within minutes with a wander around the bountiful shelves of your local council book haven. I'll be getting my library card this week. 


3. Re-read a Favourite

If you're like me, you won't often revisit books that you've read, because you'll feel like you're wasting precious reading time (can anyone stop them producing new books until I catch up with all the ones already written? Thanks). It's understandable. However, when you're in a bit of a lull, getting your head back into one of your favourite books of all time can inject some passion back into your reading time - after all, it's near impossible to not be moved by some books. Whether you love Lord of the Rings, the works of Roald Dahl or an obsure 18th Century Japanese poet that only writes haiku, dig out a dusty copy of your favourite book and remember why you love reading so much in the first place.


4. Join a Book Club

There's nothing quite like peer pressure to force you into doing something, and book clubs provide exactly the right sort of peer pressure to get you back into reading. Not having made it through the required reading might have been funny in school, but when you're an adult, it's just shameful. Once you've committed to a novel in front of others, you'll shift your entire schedule around to make sure it's finished - and you'll also be introduced to books that you might never have thought of before. You might uncover a love of graphic novels, or simply get into the classic that you've always meant to start, but one thing's for sure: book clubs work!


5. Treat Yourself

Nothing is fun when it seems like a chore, and you're a lot less likely to set aside time for reading when you're ploughing through a book you don't really like (I'm sorry, Moby Dick, I'm talking about you). So treat yourelf; ditch the durge and buy yourself something new and exciting, and make a few little changes so that your reading time is something to truly enjoy rather than something to endure. Schedule an hour to soak in the bath with Borges, or take yourself to your favourite cafe after work for a slice of cake and a coffee with Coupland. We love reading because it lets us escape from the real world for a while - so make your reading time into a blissful experience and you'll be back on the book train in no time!

Are you lacking inspiration already this year? Check out our book lists to find something that tickles your fancy.

How do you get out of a reading slump? And what does your Reading Time look like? Let us know in the comments section below!

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