The Dreaded Reading Slump: Sarah's hot tips!
What do you do when you just can’t focus on a book?
It happens to everyone at some point, life takes its toll, your mind just keeps racing, and reading becomes nearly impossible, no matter how good the book. Your reading material keeps piling up, your TBR pile becomes a mountain, and the very idea of picking up a book becomes overwhelming.
Having recently experienced these book blues myself, and having beaten them into submission, here are some tips to kick reading slump ass and get reading again:
1. Re-read a book you loved.
A simple solution is to pick up something along the lines of Harry Potter (I’m just assuming you’ve read and loved it because I can’t imagine a world where anyone has not and does not). So pick it up for the 9 millionth time and read. You’ll know the story more or less word for word so it’ll be the easiest of reads. Combined with your love of the characters, and you’ll be guaranteed to go from cover to cover in no time at all!
For me, I decided to re-read two books: I recently picked up Tamara Ireland Stone’s Time Between Us and Melina Marchetta’s Looking for Alibrandi with the simple goal of finishing two books in a short space of time. Knowing the stories really made it easier for my mind to keep focus rather than drifting away.
This method may not be for everyone. You may find that re-reading a book makes you less likely to focus. In which case read on and try one of the other steps.
2. Read a YA or Children’s book rather than a literary fiction.
The language in books for children and teenagers is often much less dense than those of literary fiction novels, which means they’re naturally easier to read (I know right – what a surprise). YA books, and increasingly Middle-Grade books are dealing with intricate plots and intriguing themes, which draw their readers in. The pacing and length of the books also make them a significantly faster read.
If you find that you are unable to identify with adolescent or pre-teen characters, it might be best to give this one a miss. Don’t worry, there are plenty more options to try.
3.Try something new
Read a genre you’ve never tried before, or read a genre that is distantly related to your favourite books. Your difficulty focusing on reading may mean that you have outgrown your current reading material and need to open your mind to something new. Rather than continue to push through with a book or genre you aren’t enjoying, pick up something different and give that a try. I highly recommend going for something completely different, and maybe even changing it up from fiction to non-fiction. By changing the things you read you are keeping your mind more alert and may even learn a few things about yourself and the world along the way!
4. Read a Film Tie-In of a movie you loved.
As with re-reading, this method requires less focus because you already know the story. It makes it easier for you to follow along, and if your mind drifts occasionally, you’ll still be able to work out where you are in the plot.
Again, this one may not work for everyone, as many readers prefer to read books before watching the movies. To this I say: do some quick research. There are so many movies based on books now that you would never have known. There is a chance that you’ve seen a movie without ever knowing it was a book first - like Warm Bodies – didn’t know that was a book, did you? - so there really is no excuse. It’s worth a try!
5. Don’t push yourself to read for too long.
If you are tired or losing focus after just a chapter or two, don’t keep forcing yourself to read. Sure, your progress through the novel will be slower, however you will find more enjoyment out of regular breaks than forced reading. Trust me on this one, I’ve tried so many times and have ended up hating books because of it.
6. Listen to an audiobook
I know this one may sound like cheating, but trust me when I say it really isn’t. By listening to an audiobook you can a) multitask and b) become involved in a story without making your eyes do any work. Sometimes, by simply having someone else read to you, a story can be more engaging. For busy people the audiobook is perfect. I particularly recommend them for long commutes, road trips, students who have spent too much time on reading textbooks, and for busy stay at home parents who are unable to take the time (or the energy) to read a book.
7. Read short stories or fan fictions
People often laugh at fiction published on the internet, but fan fiction is hugely popular globally. Most major fandoms have some form of fan fiction on the internet, and writers like Cassandra Clare are writing short stories linked to their fictional worlds that work in much the same way. They are stories by fans for fans and star your favourite characters from your favourite fictional worlds. This is predominantly popular with YA and Children’s books, however popular fan fictions have become books in recent years (Cassandra Clare’s The Mortal Instruments series was originally Harry Potter fan fiction).
Short fiction may be your ideal cup of tea/whiskey/whatever you drink. Most genres will have short fiction out there, as do many bestselling authors. The best part about short fiction is that it has all the elements of your favourite novels, all the technical ability of your favourite writers, but has been condensed in size. Short fictions work well for those with shorter attention spans, but do not let that fool you into thinking they are not as good as a full length novel – sometimes they’re even better!
Readers, I wish you all the best with your quest, and I hope that you end your reading slump soon! I tried all these methods and each has worked to a varying degree, I’m sure any one of these could be of help to you! Let us know in the comments if you have any extra tips or tricks, or if you find any of these methods helped!
All images sourced via creative commons
Sarah works in publishing and can often be found with a good YA book in hand. She co-runs the Instagram page @your_reality_is_an_illusion which promotes and reviews books, and is a freelance editor. You can find her at: SarahNicoleEditorial