Guest post by Laura Read
A reading slump is one of the worst things that can happen to any book lover, especially when a friend asks what you’ve read lately and you have to wrack your brain to think of the last time you actually sat down to read.
But what is a ‘reading slump’? UrbanDictionary.com (that old chestnut for reliable references) describes it as:
‘A reader’s worse nightmare… Not being able to pick up a book and read because you just can’t, you just can’t read.
‘Person 1: “What’s the matter with you?”
‘Reader: “I can’t read. No book is good enough. Leave me alone!” *reading slump*’
I stopped reading and found myself stuck in a slump when my tastes changed. In my teens, I lost myself in mysteries and detective stories (loving the sassiness of Sara Paretsky’s V.I. Warshawski and laughing out loud at Stephanie Plum’s latest exploits in Janet Evanovich’s books), as well as paranormal romances and most of the Point Horror series (don’t judge me!). My reading habits changed when I hit my 20s though, and I became bored of formulaic prose and conventional genres.
I longed to read books that were different, which didn’t fit neatly into typical genres, with dark characters and unexpected twists. It was difficult to find those kind of novels, although this was just before Kindles and smartphones drastically changed how we find and read books. Today, it’s easier than ever to pick up a new book (or instantly download one – in fact, there are too many choices) but arguably it’s more difficult to find the time to read. There are so many distractions: social media, catching up on emails or the news, Netflix…
Last year I made a conscious effort to read more and get out of my reading slump. Here are some suggestions for how you can too.
Switch off the TV, computer and/or your phone
Maybe you always have the TV on in your house, you’re determined to get to the next level in your game, you’re addicted to Facebook stalking, or you’re dying to watch the latest episode of Mr Robot (I’m guilty of binge watching TV shows). Whatever you also love doing, reading feels different from almost every other activity. Curling up with a good book and getting lost in a different world can fill you with a whole spectrum of different feelings and knowledge, depending on the book. So try switching everything off so you can devote more time to reading – or maybe just turn off your router if the internet is your biggest distraction.
Buy an eReader or read on your phone
I’ve started reading via the Kindle app on my phone when I’m out and about, especially on the train. It saves remembering to throw my Kindle or a book into my bag before I leave the house, or actually trying to wedge a book in my bag.
In the evening, I switch to my Kindle so I don’t get the blue light off my screen before bed (which can affect the quality of your sleep), and my phone syncs up with where I left off during the day.
See whether your favourite author has a new book out
Well, Hemingway, Austen and Tolstoy might be out, but try seeing whether your favourite authors have written anything new. Or maybe you can sign up to their e-newsletter and/or join their advanced reading group (e.g. an author might set up a Facebook group to do this) so you can read their latest extracts or books not yet published.
Not got much money to spend on books? Search sites that offer free or discounted books
Lots of indie authors (myself included) are signing up to instaFreebie to offer free books to readers (e.g. offering a preview or the first book in a series, so you can see whether you like the author’s writing, and, if so, you can then go on to purchase more books by that author). There are lots of other sites where you can access free or discounted books too (e.g. Freebooksy, Books Butterfly, eBook Betty), and receiving emails about new books encourages me to click on the links, download them and get reading.
Re-read your favourite book
Although personally, I don’t like re-reading books (always preferring to read something new), you can get out of a reading slump by re-reading your favourite book or series if you like picking up certain books every so often.
Read a different genre
Read a book in a genre that you’re not used to, or that isn’t easily definable. Maybe your reading tastes have changed, like mine did, and that’s preventing you from reading the same sort of books.
Go to a bookshop or library
I love going to bookshops and libraries, and with all those books in one place, you can breathe in that ‘booky smell’ and get lost browsing the shelves – before getting lost in a new book. Ask for book tokens for birthdays and Christmas so you can go to a shop and load up on even more books.
Set a goal, join a book club or find a book buddy
Make your reading more social. On Goodreads, you can set goals (e.g. to read so many books) and chat with friends about your latest reads and reviews. Or join a book club (your local one or an online group) to force you to read a new book before your next meet-up. If going to a book club doesn’t appeal (e.g. if you’d feel uncomfortable offering your opinions in a group setting), find a book buddy or friend who likes the same books as you so you can discuss your latest reads.
Create a TBR pile and plan to have a reading day
Have fun writing a list of the books you want to read (or on Goodreads, add books to your ‘to-read shelf’), then plan a day or evening where you’ll just read. This could include eating your favourite snacks, putting on comfy PJs or your ‘slobbing outfit’, and curling up under your favourite blanket. Heaven!
Listen to audiobooks
If you struggle to find time to read then try out audiobooks. You can listen to an audiobook while you’re getting ready in the morning, driving, walking, exercising, washing up, or gardening. I do this for non-fiction (for fiction I prefer to physically read instead of listen) and it’s amazing what you can learn at the same time as doing simple everyday tasks.
Write the book you want to read
Finally, if you’re bored of reading certain books, write the book you want to read. This should come with a health warning attached: you might find writing a book one of the hardest things you’ll ever do, where you’ll have to invest in lots of chocolate and wine to get you through, and you’ll struggle to lose weight because of all the extra calories and sitting down. And you might read less as a result – not really a top tip then…
By Laura Read
How far would you go to escape from your sins?
Angela Balanescu is the daughter of an organized crime boss. Her father feeds on power, solely focused on how he can gain more territory. Hating the violence used by her family, Angela yearns to leave town, instead of using drink and sex as escapism.
When she falls for corrupt detective Sean, Angela wonders whether she can learn to trust him and put a life of crime behind her. But Vincent, her father’s violent lieutenant, is jealous of their relationship and wants her for himself. He reminds her that she shouldn’t trust anyone.
Will Angela choose to stay and help her family, or leave town with Sean to start a new life where she can escape her past?