What Do You Do When You’re in a Reading Slump? A Discussion Post

We all know that feeling—you want to read, but you can’t decide what you want to read next or nothing you pick up is holding your attention for long. Or—GASP!—you just don’t feel like reading.

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I am currently in a reading slump. It has been going on for the entire month of May. The first week was entirely focused on finishing graduate school. I didn’t want to read, mostly to stay focused on my deadlines. Also, frankly, I just did not feel like reading. It required more brain power than I had to give. Plus, there was a book I felt like caused the slump and none of my library books were holding my interest anymore.

When I am in a reading slump, I usually ride it out until I feel the urge to read again. Going a few days without reading is normal, to prevent myself from burning out. If I go for longer than a week, then I consider myself in a reading slump.

In my experience over the past couple of years, I usually get them twice a year. The first one is at the beginning of the summer, either in May or June. It is mostly because I have no idea what to do with all the sudden free time on my hands. The next reading slump happens in December. This is because I basically lose interest in every single book on my TBR as I become irrationally overwhelmed with all the books I want to read before the end of the year.

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Like I said, when I get stuck in a reading slump, I don’t force it. There’s a greater chance of me not liking a book I otherwise might have enjoyed. So, instead of reading, I do other things.

First, I watch TV shows on Netflix or movies on Disney +. Right now, I’m watching old episodes of Criminal Minds. I’ve watched Hotel Transylvania 3 at least four times already. I want to get back into Season 3 of Thirteen Reasons Why, which I was in the middle of when the new school year started. Now that I know Season 4 is coming out in June, I’ll wait to finish the season so I can binge. I also have a watchlist on Disney + of old Disney movies I want to watch, like The Black Cauldron, The Sword in the Stone, and Pinocchio. Not to mention the three re-watches of The Nightmare Before Christmas.

And, before anyone asks, we just finished The Tiger King Netflix miniseries. It was…fine.

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Another thing I do when I’m in a reading slump is I organize my TBR pile. Trying to get myself excited for reading again, I make lists of books still on my TBR. I arrange them by priority and my excitement level. This method is working right now, actually. Organizing all the books I want to read next in 2020 gives me something else to think about. Besides the quarantine and that libraries are still closed, so I can’t put my Master’s to use.

Next, when I’m in a reading slump, I attempt to work more on my blog. Right now, I have a backlog of ideas I meant to work on. Of course, since I am not reading as much, I can’t do the book reviews or recommendations I want. This is when I really have to get creative. I usually turn to BookTube, which both sparks my desire to read again as well as gives me a burst of ideas for creative content.

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When I finally feel like I want to get out of the reading slump, nine times out of ten, I will go to the library first. Most of the time I’m in a reading slump, I lose interest in the books I have at home. Instead, I go to the library and borrow a bunch of books. I read whatever I can get around to in between check out and renewal. Or, such as my current situation, I flat out lose interest in them, wanting to read my own books again.

From there, I pick a book off my TBR that I know I can get through quickly, like a graphic novel. Another type of book I might reach for is one low on my TBR pile, one I have minimal expectations going into, so there is no risk of me being disappointed by anything. I kill two birds with one stone: get out of my reading slump and take a book off my TBR that has gone unread for too long.

While this is my usual method, I’m trying something I don’t do very often. I’ve heard people rereading old favorites to get back into reading. I tried this at the start of 2020, rereading a book after a deep reading slump at the end of the previous year. It helped other times I felt a funk in my reading. Rereading books is something I want to do more of in general. I grabbed a whole bunch of my favorite books from over the past few years to reread until I feel like getting back to my regularly scheduled TBR pile.

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I don’t miss school. But in case you could not already tell, this quarantine is slowly driving me to insanity.

Thank God for books.

 

What do you do when you’re in a reading slump?

Top 5 Tuesday: Top 5 Reasons I Rate a Book 5 Stars

What makes me rate a book five stars? I never thought about that before….

When Shanah released the list of topics for January 2020, this is the topic I was most excited to write. I like it when I actually have to think of an answer.

For me to rate a book 5 stars, the book must have:

 

Great writing

If I don’t love an author’s writing style, chances are I’m not going to give it 5 stars. Sometimes, I do not mind juvenile or simplistic writing, as long as it goes with the narrative, such as the novel is told from the perspective of a younger protagonist. But if I find the writing too simplistic or cringey or repetitive, then forget it. If I think the writing style is beautiful, then I will give it a high rating.

 

A well thought-out plot and character development

Plot and character development go hand in hand in my book. Sometimes, I can overlook one for the sake of the other, but it has to be for a good reason. If a book is more of a character study and the protagonist goes through a major development, but there isn’t much a consistent plot, I’m fine with it. If a novel is more plot-driven without so much of a focus on characters, but the plot is entertaining, it’s no big deal. But to get 5 stars, the book has to have both in equal measures.

 

The ability to hold my attention, even when I’m not reading it

A common indicator that I will give a book 5 stars is if I’m thinking about reading it when I’m not reading it. If I am at work or school and I look for any excuse I can to take a break so I can read more, that is when I know a book is on the 5-star track. If I am in the process of reading the book and it’s the only thing holding my attention, that is also usually a sign of a 5-star read.

In short: if a book makes me ignore my responsibilities or my friends or my family, it’s a good book.

 

The ability to make me really think and feel something

I read for the enjoyment of reading. But I also don’t read just for the act of reading. I will read fluffy books to pass the time and relax. On the flip side to that, I tend to gravitate towards books with heavy plots or themes more often. If a book challenges my way of thinking, makes me consider something I hadn’t before, or makes me feel like I’m a real character in the book, then it is a candidate for a 5-star rating.

 

The ability to make me cry

I am genuinely not a book crier. I cry in movies, because the act of seeing it on the screen versus reading it on the page bothers me more. However, there are the exceptions that have made me cry in real sadness from what I read. And I’m talking real crying, not getting misty-eyed. If a book makes me shed tears, it’s a 5-star, hands down.

 

What makes you rate a book 5 stars?   

What Do You Think of People Who Don’t Read? (Discussion Post)

While Christmas shopping for my dad and my brother, I kept thinking about books I want to buy them. My brother reads occasionally and my dad pretty much never. This can be said for most other people in my life as well. Meanwhile, I’m reading books like I breathe air.

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Thinking about this brought me back to a conversation I had with another reader: what do you think about people who don’t read?

Growing up, I was super into reading. I didn’t understand how anybody could not like it. You read text messages, emails, Facebook posts, and gossip on your favorite celebrity, yet how can you say you hate reading? It made no sense.

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I’m an introvert like many of you probably are. I like being social when the opportunity arises. Sadly, that isn’t often, since I live farther out from my friends. More often than not, I spend my weekends at home. My family has a subscription to Netflix and now Disney +. I take full advantage of both. I also watch a lot of BookTube, as well as scary story channels, mostly Mr. Nightmare, Corpse Husband, and Lazy Masquerade.

I also watch TV in my down time. Criminal Minds, one of my favorites, is beginning its final season in January and I watch reruns constantly. A potential new all-time favorite, Evil, aired this year. I watch it live on Thursday nights at 10pm, no matter how tired I was from going to school that day. I also occasionally watch reruns of Law and Order: Special Victims Unit. By no means would I call myself a TV buff, though.

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For the longest time, I thought of reading as a form of entertainment or a hobby. I wrote that in my “autobiography,” my first assignment for my young adult literature class this semester. Then, after my professor graded it, she wrote a comment of how she thought of reading as more of as a part of a person’s infrastructure. That got me thinking.

There have been times when I was in a reading slump where I just did not feel like reading. Or I kind of wanted to read but nothing held my interest at that moment. Usually, it was due to when I was busy with school and/or life. Other times, I simply just read too much too fast and burnt myself out. It passes within a week or so. This time around, however, I forced myself to take a break from reading.

I had checked out a lot of books from the library—as I do when I’m trying to refrain myself from buying too many books in order to save money—that I was really excited to read. I also had assignments piling up, all of them involving focus. After a final project had been screwed up, I knew I had to put reading aside until I turned in my last assignment for the semester.

I had no idea what to do with myself.

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That whole week and a half of not allowing myself to read anything not school related made me think of my professor’s comment on that paper. Reading was such a part of my life, I had no idea how much until I deliberately made it not so. It made me wonder what else I might have done if I never took up reading in the first place, especially since a love of writing stemmed from a love of reading.

Like I said, years ago, I had no idea how people did not like reading. After meeting people that struggled with learning disabilities, I finally made peace with the idea that reading is not for everyone. School doesn’t help much, with required reading and teachers only accepting answers they deem to be the “right” analysis of a work. It was different for me. I liked learning and had generally positive experiences in my high school English classes. Plus, I also had supportive professors in college during my English degree. Not everyone can say that.

If someone is genuinely interested in trying to take up reading, I do my best to give them recommendations. But by no means do I try to force anyone to like reading. My friends never tried to make me like the things they liked, so why would I do it to anyone else?

Regarding possible romantic partners, same thing. The other person liking reading is more of a bonus than a requirement. If I got involved with someone who did not enjoy reading, I would not try to make them like it if they did not want it. And I would not give someone a hard pass just for that one thing, not if they have so many other qualities I find attractive. If they tried to make me stop reading or outright hated the fact that I love reading, then we have a problem.

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In high school, college, and now in graduate school, and just in adulthood in general, I make time for reading because I want to. More than that, I realize now. I need to. I need the escapism and the ability to get out of my head or lost in my feelings. I need the creative energy as an outlet for my stress and the anxiety I feel when I overthink (which is a lot). I need reading to help me figure it all out.

But I know not everyone feels that way. And that’s OK.

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What do you think of people who do not read?

 

Rereading Books: Yay or Nay? (Discussion Post)

When the professor for my YA literature class released this semester’s reading list, there were a lot of books I have read. Quite a few I have wanted to reread for a while. Now, I finally had a reason.

But did I really need one?

Rereading books is something I don’t do enough. I did it more when I was younger. I relied on money and gift cards on my birthdays and Christmas to get new books. My high school library was all right, but I didn’t have a lot of access to it by junior year. More often than not, I reread books because when I found something I liked, I was all in. I would literally read nothing else than the books by the same author, over and over.

Once I got a job, I could buy the books I wanted to read. I did not think of using my college’s library until my senior year, when my boss at the school library asked me to start writing book reviews for the library’s Facebook page. When I graduated college, I found out my local library had improved so I started using it more. Thus, I had basically stopped rereading books.

I do like rereading, though. Revisiting an old favorite is always fun. You find things you missed the first time. Sometimes, rereading an old favorite, like a Harry Potter book, helps me get out of a reading slump. Rereading my favorite parts of books also improves my mood sometimes, too.

On the flip side, reading tastes change. I attempted to reread Twilight a year or two ago, only to put it down after 200 pages. It was not as good as I remembered. Or, it was better to a sixteen-year-old than a twenty-five-year-old.

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Last year, I reread Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll before picking up Heartless by Marissa Meyer. When I first read it, I gave it three stars. That was during a time I was scared to give books low rating, unless I truly hated it. Turns out, when I read Alice in Wonderland again, I did hate it more than I thought I did.

You might also notice problems that do not sit well with you anymore. Regarding Twilight, I was Team Jacob, so Edward was already a dickhead in my eyes. However, when thinking about the Women of the Otherworld series by Kelley Armstrong, there was a toxic relationship that would make today’s readers puke. At sixteen, I was able to ignore this as best I could, even if they made me uncomfortable most of the time. At twenty-six, I’m not so sure if I can put up with Elena and Clay’s BS anymore.

Then, of course, there is the age-old argument against rereading that your unread books are ignored. By rereading books, you put yourself at risk of missing out on new stories. This is primarily why I don’t reread books as much as I want to. I’m constantly adding books to my TBR on Goodreads. I have had enough income over the years where I could buy new books. My local library has a good selection. In other words, with so many new stories coming into my possession or within my reach, I didn’t see any reason to read books I had already read.

Personally, I have come to realize I am not big on rereading as much as I was years ago. With all the new books coming out, I felt as though I was missing out. I also don’t like the idea of possibly realizing I don’t like an old favorite as much as I thought I did. I would rather not taint my memory of an otherwise good experience. That’s what happened with me during my Harry Potter reread last year.

To be honest, I sometimes would like to reread more often than I do now. I buy books I read from the library to add to my collection, as well as to possibly reread in the future. Only after my Harry Potter reread, I’m not quite sure how I feel about rereading overall anymore. I will most likely reread first books in series before continuing with the remaining books if I took too long to get around to them. This was the case with The Rosie Project trilogy by Graeme Simison and the Masque of the Red Death duology by Bethany Griffith. I enjoyed the first books and own the sequels, except I haven’t read the following novels. I read The Rosie Project in 2014 and Masque of the Red Death in 2012. I have forgotten a lot of what happened in these books.

For the next few months, the rereading I will mainly be doing is for my YA literature class. Given that The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon, The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson, and Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys, I am looking forward to it.

 

How often do you reread books?

Do you like to reread books or do you prefer to read new stories?

 

How Does Life Affect Your Reading? (Discussion Post)

On Saturday—despite the severe anguish it caused me—I lowered my Goodreads reading goal from 100 books to 50 books.

At that point, I was seven books behind in my yearly reading challenge. I ranted about it on Books Amino (rather than read) and most people encouraged me just to read like normal and not make a big deal out of it if I don’t make 100. I knew they were right; yet, at the same time, the stress of falling behind was getting to me more than I knew was sensible.

The reason why I set my 2018 Goodreads Challenge to 100 in the first place was that I wanted to motivate myself to keep reading. The last time I set my goal that high was 2015 and I had an amazing reading year. Only back then, my life was different.

In 2015:

I was a junior in college. In between classes, campus jobs, and meals, I was in the school library doing homework or projects. When I needed a break or finished the assignments I wanted to get done, I would read.

My best friend and I were roommates our junior year. We are chill people and at the time we didn’t go out much. Whatever other free time I had, when I was not with friends, I was reading.

That summer, I worked at my college’s library. My shift ended at 3pm, and then I had about two hours to kill before my dad picked me up to go home. I spent that time reading. Then, for about two weeks in July, my boss was on vacation, the other librarians were in meetings for most of the day, and there was a lull in summer classes. Hardly anyone was in the library, so I had all this time to read.

The end of 2015 was the beginning of my senior year. It was basically the same method as junior year. Thanksgiving break rolled around and that was when I just started getting into graphic novels. I distinctly remember reading volumes 2 through 5 of the Saga comics in four days. And I ended up actually beating my goal—I read 108 books in 2015.

I didn’t set a reading goal for 2016 because I had to focus on finishing college. I decided not to do one in 2017 for fear of causing myself unnecessary pressure to read while I was trying to figure out how to adult.

Past Jillian was onto something.

I wanted to bring back what I had in 2015. Except….

My Current Monday through Friday Schedule in 2018:

  • Wake up at 4:30am to make the bus at 6:45am
  • Try to read on the bus for the hour and a half long commute, but sometimes doze off and I end up listening to music instead.
  • I have an hour for lunch, but instead of reading, I go for a walk. I sit in a desk chair pretty much all day. That can be uncomfortable after a while.
  • Get out of work at 5pm and commute home on the bus again for another hour and a half. Only I am in front of a computer screen all day and I need to rest my eyes (near-sighted problems).
  • Make it home by 7pm. Dinner usually ready (a perk of still living in my dad’s house) and I have about five hours until I go to bed at 11pm.
  • Instead, I watch BookTube.

 

On weekends, I tend to read a little bit more than I do during the week. But because I am a masochist, it’s still not as much reading as I would like. I’m usually the first one awake between 8 and 9am. With my dad and my brother still asleep, it’s quiet. I make coffee and sit on the couch with my dog, reading for a good chunk of the morning. I even manage to keep reading when my dad wakes up and turns on a European soccer game.

However, the reading sprints don’t last for very long. Because of my work schedule, my weekends are devoted to my blog. I write upcoming posts, edit them, and then schedule them to be posted throughout the week. And then what do I do?

Netflix. Or YouTube. Depends on my mood.

I did not want to lower my Goodreads goal. But like I said, falling behind was stressing me out. Worse still, it was taking the fun out of reading. Instead of being excited looking at the books sitting around my room, I was getting anxious to meet a certain quota. That is not healthy.

I realize now that I have to be realistic. Life circumstances have affected my reading. I was told this would happen as I got older, yet I refused to accept it. I still want to keep reading books. I love doing it and it helps me keep writing. Books are the reason I was an English major in college and why I want to be a librarian. Only they sometimes might have to take a backseat as I move forward.

Has this ever happened to anyone?

            What do you do when life gets in the way of reading?

            Does it ever take away the desire to read?

            Would you ever give up on a reading challenge, change it, or see it through?

 

Let’s discuss!