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I’m in a Reading Slump, and It’s OK (Really.)

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Sharanya Sharma

Staff Writer

Growing up, Sharanya Sharma was frequently caught leaving home and tumbling into places like Hogwarts, Prydain, and Frell. These days, she spends most of her time running around after (adorable) children in Washington, DC, trying to teach them things like math and social studies and reading. Especially reading. All of her spare time (and change) is spent in bookstores, inhaling books and coffee. She's had a life-long love affair with middle-grade and YA lit, and hopes to write her own novel(s) in those genres some day. Blog: Inkstinedreads Twitter: @srsharms

I’ve been in a Reading Slump since the start of August.

Now, normally, this would send me into a mild state of panic and disbelief. I haven’t picked up a book in a month and a half?! I’d be thinking to myself. I’d start pulling out the forgotten books from my shelves, and I’d start flipping through them aimlessly, hoping one would stick. I’d browse my kindle once, twice, maybe even three times and download samples left and right, hoping to find The One. Sometimes, I would. After all, there are definitely many books out there that could qualify as The One. But sometimes, I wouldn’t. As my desperation got thicker, I would sometimes start browsing articles about the dreaded Reading Slump, and how other readers cope. Or I would try to force my way through a book, like someone trying to bodily move their way through a cement wall. (You can imagine how well that last one turned out).

Now, though, something strange is happening. I know I’m in a reading slump. I know I haven’t picked up a book in weeks. But this time, I don’t feel that odd mixture of guilt and desperation as I think, how do I FIX THIS, and fast?! This time, I feel…fine. Good, even.

Maybe it’s because I’ve been through so many, I’m used to feeling utterly un-bookish for a while. Maybe it’s because the last book I read was written by my absolute favorite author (the Cormoran Strike series, if you want to know), and so I was totally prepared to a) have the rug pulled out from under me and b) deal with the fact that nothing else would even remotely interest me for a time. Either way, it’s the first time that I can say, with a kind of chill I never thought I’d feel when it comes to reading, that I’m in a slump. And it’s fine.

Don’t get me wrong — I definitely miss books. I miss the feeling of getting lost in pages. I miss losing track of time and realizing in the end that I spent an entire day in one spot, and yet also in an entirely different world. I have found myself thinking longingly of my favorite characters, daydreaming about where they are in my mind now that it’s been awhile since the last page of the book was turned. I think the difference is is that for the first time, I’m actually sort of…enjoying that. Absence makes the heart grow fonder and all that, and it turns out that’s just as true for my bookish life as it is for anything else. Instead of feeling pressured to meet my 85-book Goodreads goal (which I haven’t forgotten, promise), I’m just riding the waves of non-bookishness and let them take me where they will. And, perhaps unsurprisingly, it’s brought me back here — to writing about it.

Before, I think I let myself get so keyed up about being a reader who doesn’t read 1000% of the time that I didn’t realize that the break is actually good for me. Being away from reading doesn’t mean I love it less. In fact, it’s because I love reading that I’m coming realize that slumps happen for a reason. Because that’s the great thing about knowing books will always be there for you. You get to let yourself miss it. And that, as it turns out, can be a pretty fabulous thing. Missing books means daydreaming about your favorite characters, without the pressure of having to go find them. Missing books means getting to imagine what your ideal bookshelf would look like (for me, personally, more POC characters in YA fantasy books), and maybe taking a peek here and there for books that might fit that idea, without the pressure of having to update your actual bookshelf right now.

Missing my reading life has helped me realize just how great it actually is. Once I let myself miss all of the highs and lows, the intensity and the glorious laziness, instead of desperately forcing my way back into books too soon, I found my mind starting to sniff eagerly at the prospect of an actual new book much sooner than I’d ever have before.

So, yes, I’m starting to feel warm and fuzzy at the thought of finding a new book sooner than ever. All of the upcoming fall book releases have me tingling. As always, I have my preferred method for how to crawl my way out of a slump. But this time, I’m going to take my time with it. Who knew that the best way to cope with a reading slump was to…embrace it?