Our Reading Lives

Bookish Things To Do While in a Reading Slump

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Yash Kesanakurthy

Staff Writer

Somewhere between starting her schooling in Saudi Arabia and finishing high school in Singapore, Yash Kesanakurthy realized that she disliked school. It was the fateful move to Vancouver, Canada for a BA in Economics (which, surprise, didn't pan out) that led her to the MA program in Children's Literature at UBC. She had fun immersing herself into the academia of children's literature but nothing beat the joy of writing for The Book Wars, being able to set aside classics and pay attention to the culture of contemporary YA. And now, everything is PB/MG/YA and nothing hurts. Well, some things hurt but nothing her bookshelf can't fix. Currently, she is working on her own YA fantasy novel and an all-ages picturebook. Her life goals include: getting a pet dog, getting published, and presenting you dear readers and Rioters with posts that engage and entertain. (Maybe not in that order?) Blog: The Book Wars Twitter: @SeeYashTweet

It’s funny because, three years ago, I would have inwardly scoffed at anyone dealing with a serious slump, having never gone through one myself. This year, though, felt like a very long slump to me. There was a lot of denial.

But finally, I had to deal with the truth. I was feeling burnt out. I only got through it with Adam Silvera’s They Both Die at the End.

Still, I can’t help but reflect on what could have made the process easier. So, here are some tips I’ve gathered:

Weeding: Definitely would have gotten to Silvera’s latest release (and over my slump), if I had cleaned up my TBR a little. Questions to guide your weeding process:

  • Do I still want to read that book recommended by a friend that I only borrowed to be nice, even though it isn’t at all diverse and I’ve decided to read only diverse books and authors? Nope.
  • Do I still want to read that famous book that, surprise, won’t actually be better than the adaptation (which I didn’t even love that much)? Nope.
  • Do I need to continue this series even though my feelings for the first book were lukewarm at best? Nope.
  • Do I need these old, problematic faves that I’m never going to re-read and/or lend out ever again? Nope.

It gets easier as you start to consider each book.

Whether it’s on your TBR pile or your Read-And-Loved pile, cleaning up your shelves can help. Kind of like keeping a clean your work station in the kitchen so you can keep cooking. (See, Masterchef can be educational.)

Listening to Bookish Podcasts: During my slump, reading book reviews was tough. I’m supposed to be a reader and reviewer and since I wasn’t reading much, I wasn’t reviewing much either. Podcasts felt like a much more friendly way to get interested in books again. You get to hear people excited about books, whether they’re constructive about it or not is beside the point. The point is, excitement can be contagious.

Read Magazines: Well, okay, I’m a bit of a magazine snob. I stick to either culinary ones that feature food writing (like Lucky Peach, RIP my favourite magazine) or bookish ones. The culinary ones often lead me to actual food writing books, ones that I can get through despite the slump. Or maybe even because of the slump, because I don’t know that I would have picked up Michael W. Twitty’s The Cooking Gene under normal circumstances. Trying a new genre of non-fiction was way of fighting my reading slump.

Attend Book Launches: If it weren’t for book launches, I wouldn’t have started (and completed) reading Tara Sim’s Timekeeper and my life definitely would have been poorer for it. I also wouldn’t have picked up yet another food-related book, Naben Ruthnum’s Curry: Eating, Reading, and Race which definitely changed the way I look at the food I consume and the books I consume as well. Book launches provide opportunities to not only hang out with the authors and ask them some questions you wouldn’t otherwise have the chance to ask, but also forces you into an environment where there may be a ton of offhand spoilers. If these kinds of things matter to you, you will do everything you can to finish reading the book before the event.

Creative Recycling: Honestly, ripping pages out of a book you don’t like but happen to own is oddly therapeutic. Crafting ripped pages to create something pretty, even more so. I can’t explain it, but it definitely got me in the mood to read…having literally torn through a book. *shrug* For ideas on what you can do with your soon-to-be-recycled books, check out Rioter Cassandra Neace’s post here!

I know everyone has their own way of dealing with slumps, so let me know what yours are—I’m sure I can’t have too many solutions for this problem!