Earlier, we featured a series on how to read for writing – but what if you’re experiencing a reading slump? Do you notice your lack of energy for reading leeching into your ability to write? This advice might help you get back into a reading rhythm that will ultimately improve your writing output, hopefully by sparking some inspiration.
As we went over in our Reading for Writing series, reading is tantamount to writing. You can’t do one without the other. Try following the three Rs as a first step of sorts to help you get back into capital-R reading.
This one may seem obvious to some, but not so to others. Re-read a book you love. That’s it. It can be a childhood favourite (kid’s books are often easy to consume and quick to get through), a reading requirement classic from your school days, an interesting nonfiction title, or an indulgent genre-fiction read that you absolutely loved (and totally deserved). Rereading content you’re already familiar with gives your brain a break: you already know what’s going to happen, and the second (or third, or fourth) time through, you can instead appreciate other, quieter aspects of the story, such as side characters, significant sentences, or the writing style itself, without being distracted by the overarching plot or narrative.
Take some books off your shelf or sift through your e-reader. Write down the titles of books that you read and loved in the past. Now, write down what you loved about them, title by title. Notice what appears repeated the most. Use that information to help pinpoint your reading interests. Then, find a book that covers as many of those aspects as possible. Returning to what you love will make it easier to get back into the groove of reading rather than forcing yourself to get through the last book you put down or another random title from your TBR pile.
This may be the hardest step yet, but do a total reset. Toss your TBR list. Pull all the bookmarks out. Hit “finished” on titles you aren’t yet done with. Start from scratch with your reading efforts. Pick up a book without the guilty feeling that there are others waiting for you, other books that are “supposed” to be read. You, ultimately, get to choose what you do or do not read! Remember that you have no obligations, no time limits, and no reason to feel bad if you don’t read something. Celebrate what you do read, and let go of what you don’t!
Beyond the three Rs, I recommend the following:
- Try an audiobook – no reading required!
- Listen to a podcast – we recommend the Kobo Writing Life podcast, the Kobo in Conversation podcast, and Reading Glasses, to name a few. Check out a list from our blog archive here.
- Join a local book club – or, better yet, make one with your friends. Reading the same book with a group of great people is a great motivator. Plus, if you’re the type of person who is encouraged by deadlines, then this is excellent.
- Get off of social media – especially if you’re surrounded by fellow readers! Don’t compare your reading pace to that of others. It can really bring your energy down.
- Schedule your reading – set aside fifteen, then thirty, then sixty minutes a day of structured reading time. Even if you can only manage five minutes, you’ve done it!
- Set up a book nook – a comfy corner of your bedroom or living room complete with pillows, a blanket, maybe even a plant or your pet’s bed nearby. Try to get lots of natural light or have a reading lamp handy. Having a quiet, comfortable environment can do wonders for one’s reading ability.
- On the other hand – get outside! Bring a book or your e-reader to a park. Works best during nice weather, of course!
- Reshelve your TBR pile. Yes, that’s right – put it all away. Don’t let that looming stack overwhelm you; putting it back on the shelf gets rid of its power. Let yourself be drawn to what books you want to read, not the obligation you feel to your TBR list.
- Likewise, don’t be ashamed to start a DNF (did not finish) pile. If the reason you can’t finish a book goes beyond the general reading malaise, set it aside. You can try it again later or give it to a friend or family member or donate it to a library. Focus only on books that spark your interest until you are ready to give your DNF titles a try again.
- And, lastly, remember: reading is meant to be fun! If it feels like a chore, stop. Get up, do something else, and try again later. We promise your passion for reading will return in due time.
Also, be sure to check out our free page for a weekly selection of totally free (and thus guilt-free) eBooks to find a new read. Likewise, our best books of the month lists are a great source of inspiration!
Lastly, we’d love to know: what do you do when you find yourself in a reading slump? We hope these tips and suggestions help get you back on track with your reading, and get rid of some of the guilt or shame you might be feeling at having gotten behind in your efforts. We’re rooting for you!