In A Reading Slump? Here's How To Beat It
by Kerri Jarema
Woman with book in bed yawning
F.J. Jimenez/Moment/Getty Images

Ah, the dreaded reading slump. We've all had one. All of a sudden you can't pick up a book without wanting to toss it aside immediately aside. Every unread book on your shelves has become totally uninteresting and you have no idea why you ever bought it. The countless titles on your TBR sit languishing while you re-watch Gilmore Girls on Netflix, or zone out in front of some YouTube beauty tutorials. These slumps can go on for days or weeks or even months. You might start to feel like you'll never pick up another book again. Anyone who considers themselves a voracious reader speaks about these slumps in a whisper, afraid to jinx one their way.

But with so much going on in the world and so many books begging for our attention, it's natural that our brains need to take a break every one in a while. And, though you may not realize it, there are tons of ways to utilize a reading slump to your bookish advantage. Most of the time we spend an entire reading slump forcing ourselves to pick up more books, or beating ourselves up for not being able to focus, but that can only prolong our negative bookish feelings. Instead, take some time to regroup with your yearly goals, get rid of some physical clutter, or just remind yourself what you loved about being a reader in the first place. That slump will be gone before you know it, and you'll have made the most of your book break in the meantime.


Write Instead

Yes, reading can be a huge creative inspiration. But when you're trying to write the next epic fantasy or obsession-worthy romance, sometimes inundating your brain with the plots, characters, worlds and voices of other authors can only muddle your own creative process. Since you're having a hard time picking up a book right now, turn to your own writing instead. With your mind completely free of noise, you'll be able to focus more on crafting your own bestseller. You can take this time to check out some author advice online, too.


Reorganize Your Bookshelves

It's true that physical clutter can also clog up your mind, so go through your shelves and reorganize. Make a rainbow, put them in alphabetical order, group them by publisher. It doesn't really matter how you do it, but going through all of your books will remind you of what you have on your physical TBR, and maybe reinvigorate your excitement for reading them. This also gives you the perfect opportunity to finally get rid of those books that have been sitting and collecting dust for months or years. Donate them, swap them, just get them off your shelves. You'll definitely feel a physical and mental weight lifted off your shoulders, which can help open up your mind, too.


Make A New TBR List

Sometimes all you need is a fresh perspective. So clean up that TBR pile. Make an entirely new one if you have to. Get rid of the books that no longer appeal to you, bump up some priority reads, take a look at new releases that you want to get instead of that tired old back list title. By not bogging yourself down with have-to-reads, you take the feeling of responsibility out of reading and allow yourself to pick up whatever you fancy. That can be a huge help in getting you out of a slump and back to your usual reading routine.


Watch Some Book-To-Movie Adaptations

Instead of binge-watching the same episodes of that show you've already seen 100 times, turn on some book-to-movie adaptations. There are countless titles to choose from, and you can even tailor your viewing experience specifically to what you're working on (if you happen to be using this non-reading time to write.) Penning a romantic comedy? Watch Bridget Jones's Diary. Working on a YA coming-of-age? You have a plethora of options from The Perks of Being a Wallflower to The Fault in Our Stars. Plus, seeing a book made into a successful film will only motivate you to get your writing, and eventually your reading, back on track.


Watch Booktube Or Join Bookstagram

Instead of spacing out in front of clothing hauls or beauty tutorials (which are all good fun, but don't exactly help you with your reading slump) turn on some Booktube instead. There are channels dedicated to every time of reader imaginable, from YA enthusiasts to literary fiction lovers. Seeing someone get excited about hauling, reviewing and, most importantly, reading the books you love will help get you excited about them again, too. Plus you might just learn about some new reads to add to your ol' TBR. Bookstagram is another great way to do the same thing. Scrolling through photo after photo of enviable shelves and monthly wrap-ups can only help get you back on the reading train.


Make Better Use Of Your Goodreads

Now is the perfect time to get well acquainted with your Goodreads. There are tons of features to check out, from your yearly stats (if you've made stat specific goals like read 50% PoC or 30% graphic novels, you can check how you're progressing) to entering giveaway contests for upcoming releases. Write some reviews for your recent reads, chat with friends about what they're reading, add interesting books from yearly lists to your TBR. Go ahead, get lost in categorizing shelves and adding to lists. When you're finally feeling like reading again, you'll appreciate the organization so much.


Go Book Shopping

It might seem counter-intuitive to buy more books when you can't even read the ones you've got, but sometimes you have to pull out the big guns. Especially if book shopping is a rare or special occasion for you, taking yourself out for an afternoon at your favorite store or to one you've been meaning to explore for ages will get books back in your good graces again. Plus, you can focus on that redesigned TBR and fill some space on your newly reorganized shelf. Focusing on the books that you're excited about right now is a great way to feel reinvigorated in your reading. Besides, nothing ever asked to be picked up more than a shiny new hardback, right?


Check Out Some Book Clubs

No, you don't have to join anything right away. But checking out some online or IRL book clubs that may interest you will be a great way to motivate your inner reader. Clubs that are centered on a broad theme like Bustle's American Woman Book Club can help center your reading goals again. And just planning to meet up with other bookish friends at the end of the month after having read a book you can all talk about, critique and chat through will definitely motivate you. Especially if there's going to be wine involved. Which, let's be honest, there probably will be.


Pick Up A Graphic Novel Or Comic

The great thing about graphic novels and comics is that they are usually short, easily digestible, and don't feel like traditional reading. Because of that they're perfect to pick up during a slump. You'll almost certainly be able to focus on them more than you would a longer novel, and the sense of accomplishment you'll feel from kicking up your yearly goal numbers will motivate you to reach for more books. Plus, there are just some really stellar graphic novels out there that you should be reading, so why not do it now?


Make Yourself A Reading Nook

Even though you're not reading right now, you can make the prospect more inviting than ever by creating a designated reading space for yourself to come back to. Get yourself a really cozy chair, set it up by a window or in your favorite room. Buy a bookish print for the wall, get a little table to keep your currently reading pile on, maybe get new mug and a throw pillow. Do whatever you have to do to make the space comfortable and aesthetically pleasing, and you'll want to be sitting there in no time. And since the space is only for reading, you might as well pick up a book while you're there...


Re-read An All-Time Favorite

When all else fails, pick up Harry Potter. Or Anne of Green Gables. Or whatever book you would count among your all-time favorites. This is a no-fail way to make reading a fun part of your day when you're in the midst of an almighty slump. Our favorite books feel cozy, nostalgic, and carry none of the weight on an unread book. Work your way through an entire series until you feel ready to pick up something new. If you're still not quite there yet and there's a film adaptation of your favorite read, watch that, too. Immersing yourself in the world that made you a reader in the first place will make you excited to find even more beloved characters and settings in that stack of unread books.