How I Finally Got Out of the Worst Reading Slump
If you want to read more in 2020, it’s time to ditch that slump.
As an avid reader, the threat of a reading slump is always at the back of my mind. It is strongest when I’ve just finished a book I loved, and even more so if it was the last in a series.
My first reading slump of the year hit me when I finished reading the last available book of A Song of Ice and Fire (commonly known as Game of Thrones) by George R. R. Martin.
I couldn’t read anything else for weeks, I missed Martin’s vast world and his characters way too much. I felt like nothing could ever be as good again.
I stuffed the hole with another fantasy series, the Mistborn Trilogy by Brandon Sanderson. When I was done with that one, the slump hit me even worse. I only just got out of it, and here’s how I did it:
I read a book I truly wanted to read and which I enjoyed from page 1.
Don’t Force Yourself
The worst thing you can do when you’re in a reading slump is to force yourself to read a certain book. That will pull you even further into the slump. What you want to do is read something that really appeals to you, something that makes you feel amazing on the very first page.
I finished the Mistborn Trilogy at the end of October. I then started thinking about what books I wanted to finish by the end of the year.
It was a mistake.
A few months earlier, I read the first two books of The Lord of the Rings. I really wanted to finish the series within one year. So I picked up The Return of the King, the last book in the series.
Here’s what I found:
Tolkien is awesome, but he’s definitely not the one to get you out of a reading slump.
He keeps losing my attention by splitting the two main storylines into separate books. His language is too complicated and requires too much attention — the kind of attention you can’t give when you’re in a slumpy mood.
Don’t get me wrong: Tolkien’s books are great, but they’re hard work. And when you’re in a reading slump, that’s not what you’re looking for. To get out of the slump, you have to accept this, then put the book down to read another time.
There is no point in trying to force your way through a book you don’t really want to read. The key is to choose a book that hooks you on the very first page.
Try a Chapter
The Booktube community on Youtube has a great method of choosing your next book. It’s called “Try a Chapter”.
I had never done it before because I usually know what I’m going to read next. But after the Tolkien disaster, I was at a loss for ideas. I had no clue what I wanted to read next, I didn’t even know which genre appealed to me the most.
So I took out six books from my TBR pile and gave each of them a try. Originally, the “Try a Chapter” thing means you literally read one chapter of each book, but I found that to be rather unfair.
The First Pages Must Capture You
Not all of them have the same chapter length, and I chose to read the first ten pages of every book instead. What is great about this method is that after ten pages, the book has either captured you or it hasn’t.
If it hasn’t, it’s not the one — put it away immediately.
Yes, some books require more than ten pages for the reader to really connect with it, and I don’t mean to discredit them. They’re just not the ones to get you out of that reading slump.
If none of the books on your pile really urge you to read on, add another one. Do this until you’ve found one that truly captures your attention. I promise you:
You will know it when the right one comes along.
I have finally decided to read We Are the Ants by Shaun David Hutchinson. It took me only two pages to fall in love with the main character as he contemplates the absurdity of life (and kissing):
“You wouldn’t let a stranger off the street spit into your mouth, but you’ll swap saliva with the boy or girl who makes your heart race and your pits sweat and gives you boners at the worst fucking times.”
Reading this, I knew this was the book for me. That feeling is what you’re looking for when choosing your next read. Don’t settle for anything less.
It’s Worth the Wait
It worked: Two days later, I’m 120 pages into the book and really enjoying myself. The two hours I spent reading the beginnings of several books was worth it — because now, I’m reading something I really want to read.
If you want to get out of your reading slump before the new year starts, you should do the same.
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