How To Get Over Your Mid-Winter Reading Slump

It happens to the best of us: that thing where the mere thought of picking up a book makes you want to roll over and go back to sleep. Reading slumps are especially prevalent in the wintertime. But a simple slump doesn’t have to be a reading-life-threatening problem. We’re here to help. Baseball players are widely known for their superstitious slump-busting traditions. We won’t go there. But if you’re finding yourself with a case of mid-winter reading malaise, here’s a practical tip sheet for busting out.

DO read short stories and essays. It’s common sense, really — if the idea of continuing on with a novel seems daunting, read something shorter. It won’t be long before you stumble on something that stirs you; reminds you how much you love reading. And the pages will again start to sing.

DON’T try to force it. The worst time to read a book is when you recognize that you’re only reading to mechanically turn pages. Stop! Your malaise will only deepen. Put it aside until reading inspiration re-strikes. But, try to avoid DNFing (did not finish). Haven’t we already agreed that DNFing makes us feel dirty? (If your book is truly horrible, then, and only then, do you have our permission to DNF. But you CANNOT DNF because you’re “not connecting” with it — that’s your fault, not the author’s.)

DO re-read a favorite. This is usually a foolproof way to kickstart your reading heart — again, it’s all about reminding yourself why you love to read.

DON’T succumb to the boob tube. We’ve all been there. Temptation wins, and four bleary-eyed hours later, your book is still sitting there unloved. TV is so hard to resist. Snooki is dying entertain you. Or you just remembered it’s Duke vs. North Carolina night. Or it’s cut night on American Idol. Hey, the best way to avoid temptation is simply to remove yourself from it. Go to a coffee shop or bookstore to read.

DO give yourself a goal for when you’ll finish the particular book you’re stuck on. Goal-setting is one of those cheesy motivational speaker-y tools…that actually, truly works.

DON’T assume that you’ve lost your reading mojo forever. Recognize your slump for what it is: just a hiccup. Your Franzens and Foers will be there for you as soon as you’ve recovered.

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Greg Zimmerman is a trade magazine editor and blogs about contemporary literary fiction at The New Dork Review of Books. Follow him on Twitter: @NewDorkReview.

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