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Four Factors in a Fantastically Terrible Reading Slump

If you haven’t noticed, I’ve been in a wicked reading and blogging slump. It started at the beginning of August, held on through the entire month, and doesn’t seem to be letting up now that September has arrived. It’s been rough.

Although I hate being in slumps like these, I don’t let myself feel bad about them anymore. I used to get really stressed when I was in the middle of a slump — Can I really be a book blogger if I’m not reading or blogging?! — but at this point I know that slumps are just part of actually having a full and fulfilling life. Reading sometimes takes a backseat to everything else.

One of the things that’s been interesting about this slump is that it seems to include all of the things that I know cause me to slide into a slump in the first place. It’s almost a perfect storm of factors for a reading slump.

First, I’ve had a lot of personal stress in the last month. We moved, I’ve been traveling on weekends, and work has been quiet busy. When life starts to feel overwhelming, I sometimes turn away from books in favor of easier things like television or movies.

Second, I’ve had a lot of book-related obligations. I overextended myself with some freelance work over the last month, which has made it difficult to find motivation to read.

Third, I’m in the middle of a few books that aren’t as engaging as I want them to be. I’m enjoying them and I think the topic is important (and I have to finish them), but because I’m not being sucked into them, I keep finding excuses to avoid them.

Fourth, I have too many books to choose from. One idea that has stuck with me for years is the paradox of choice. Basically, when we have too many options, we often become paralyzed making a choice and, when we do, we are often dissatisfied with the outcome. I have so many books I want to be reading — and so many great books that are coming out this month — that I’m paralyzed trying to choose one to start with.

That’s really my perfect storm for a reading slump: stress, obligations, boredom and unlimited options. I can battle any one of those things, but they are formidable when they arrive together.

It’s ok though. I’m tackling them one at a time — focusing at work, finishing out projects, grabbing unexpected books and limiting my reading pile — and hoping to beat the slump soon.

What factors cause you to get into a reading slump? What are you best slump-busting tips?

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Shannon @ River City Reading September 5, 2014, 5:58 am

    I think I’m totally being caught by the paradox of choice right now, too. All of the Fall books are a little overwhelming and even though I’m looking forward to them so much, I don’t even know where to begin.

    • Kim September 7, 2014, 3:27 pm

      That’s a just part of it for me. There are so many fall books that I want to read, it’s really hard to settle into any of them.

  • Julie Merilatt September 5, 2014, 6:58 am

    I get easily distracted. That’s one of my biggest challenges. Like right now, I’m commenting on blogs instead of reading on the train. 😉

    • Kim September 7, 2014, 3:27 pm

      My distraction nemesis in those situations in Twitter 🙂

  • BermudaOnion(Kathy) September 5, 2014, 7:09 am

    When a book isn’t really grabbing me, I makes excuses not to read as well so I get it. But really, it’s okay, because this is a hobby.

    • Kim September 7, 2014, 3:28 pm

      I just recently figured out that is something I do. When I love a book, I read it all the time. When I’m only so-so on it, I can find a lot of excuses.

  • Meg September 5, 2014, 9:35 am

    Totally with you, Kim. My reading slump began when I had to pack up most of my books in June and, until I set up my bookcases in the new house, I’m stuck with the handful of paperbacks and my Kindle that I can easily access. I’ve been sort of powering through a few books that aren’t really grabbing me, and I’m often so tired from the home renovations at the end of the night that I fall asleep immediately (as opposed to reading for a half hour or more, like normal).

    With the change in seasons, though, I anticipate a slowdown — and I hope that you get back into your new routines soon! I think the fall will be good to us. 🙂

    • Kim September 7, 2014, 3:35 pm

      I agree, the change to fall will help in this respect. I’m more excited to cuddle up with a book and a cup of tea when the weather starts to change.

  • Jeanne September 5, 2014, 10:34 am

    Because Walker Percy writes about the paradox of choice, particularly in The Last Gentleman, I often reread his books. Don’t know if that would work for anybody else, but it sometimes works for me!

    • Kim September 7, 2014, 3:36 pm

      That’s an interesting strategy! I haven’t heard of Walker Percy before.

  • Vasilly September 5, 2014, 12:28 pm

    Those same factors cause me to get in a reading slump too. Right now, I’m trying to limit my choices so that I can read something, anything. But I think there are times when we just don’t have a desire to read and that’s okay too.

    • Kim September 7, 2014, 3:37 pm

      Oh definitely, I’m ok with times when reading just isn’t a priority. But I think choosing not to read and not feeling like reading are different… I hate being in the not feeling like reading mode.

  • Anita September 5, 2014, 7:26 pm

    Such a timely topic, myself and many of my blogging friends are facing this same slump. Personally I had knee replacement surgery 8/4 and August was shot! I didn’t anticipate not being able to read, not wanting to read or write. I’m often overwhelmed with the choices I have. I’m not reading at about 50% my typical pace.
    My best advice to getting out of the slump is just steady return, finding a book or two that do grab me.
    I do keep saying, book blogging is a hobby, not a job and if it stops being fun something is wrong. Life is important…it’ll all work out!

    • Kim September 7, 2014, 3:43 pm

      I’ve heard lots of bloggers complain about a reading slump of some kind. There must be something in the air!

  • Jennifer @ The Relentless Reader September 5, 2014, 7:43 pm

    Boo to slumps…but I do like that you mention that they are part of life! You aren’t alone. It’s been a weird summer for this gal.

    • Kim September 7, 2014, 3:44 pm

      Yeah, they definitely are just a part of your reading life. The only difference is how long they last!

  • Diane@BibliophilebytheSea September 6, 2014, 7:24 am

    Sorry abut your reading slump – hate that. For me, several blah reads make me want to watch television more instead of read. Over committing myself has the same effect.

    Hope life levels out for you.

    • Kim September 7, 2014, 3:45 pm

      I think it will balance out soon. I finished two big obligations and I’m on track to get the other two done soon.

  • Jennifer September 6, 2014, 2:35 pm

    I found myself nodding my head as I worked through this list. I was even thinking about writing my own post about the slump I’m currently in. I find that this time of year just get so busy for me that I just feel overwhelmed by everything. Reading usually provides solace but since my mind is buzzing so quickly, I struggle to get caught up int he world that a book attempts to create.

    I like your optimistic, no guilt attitude toward your slump. And I think you’re right: they happen and sometimes they seem to happen for good reasons. Part of a full life means sometimes getting away from the books and the blog.

    • Kim September 7, 2014, 3:46 pm

      Fall is tricky — it gets busier, but it also feels like a new start. I think the cooler weather motivates me to get going again after a long, hot summer.

  • Jennine G. September 6, 2014, 2:52 pm

    Wow, you hit all of the points!!! I’ve been so exhausted getting the school year going that even when I’ve got a moment to read I jut bring myself to do it. I’d rather just sit. Weird.

    • Kim September 7, 2014, 3:46 pm

      Yes! I’ve been doing lots of sitting, too. It’s kind of nice.

  • tanya (52 books or bust) September 7, 2014, 6:28 am

    Stress and the need to turn on the TV are key factors on my reading slumps. That and taking on too much, which contributes to stress. And I think summer is another key factor in reading slumps. We all get out of our normal habits, the weather is nice and there is so much to do. I believe a good rainy november is the cure to any slump.

    • Kim September 7, 2014, 3:47 pm

      I didn’t think much about the weather as I was writing, but it’s definitely a factor. When it’s hot and nice outside, it’s sometimes hard to feel like grabbing a book.

  • Jenny @ Reading the End September 7, 2014, 10:40 am

    The paradox of choice gets me every time! My current pile of library books is so huge I’ve just been staring at it blankly every morning. Right now I have a lot of books on the go that I won’t be reviewing (lots of academic monographs! fun to read, difficult to review), so I’m a bit worried about the blog but — eh! What can you do! The heart wants what it wants.

    Maybe some rereading would cheer you up? I am a big believer in rereading things during a reading slump.

    • Kim September 7, 2014, 3:49 pm

      Too many choices is the biggest thing, right now. I want to read so many things that I can’t pick anything. And yes, the heart does want what it wants — that’s why I read a TON of fiction this summer.

  • Catherine September 7, 2014, 2:36 pm

    It feels like this is very prevalent in the book world right now. I almost wonder if the time of year is having an impact. For me, the slump occurs on the writing side. I simply cannot muster the energy and fell like I’m writing the same words over and over again. And then ,as you mentioned, there is the easy allure of TV.

    Also, I think we all put a lot of pressure on ourselves. I’m trying to work on that and am now able to stop books that don’t work for me. DNF is a new concept for me but life is too short.

    I hope things get better for you soon!

    • Kim September 7, 2014, 3:50 pm

      I want to get better at DNFing too. I think if I were better about that, I’d be able to quit books and try something new, rather than hanging on to a book that’s not working, since when that happens I just avoid it by watching tv.

  • Andi @ Estella's Revenge September 8, 2014, 1:21 pm

    I culled about 60 books this weekend because the paradox of choice was kicking my tail. Cheers from one slumper to another.

    • Kim September 9, 2014, 8:01 pm

      I think I need to do another book cull. I did one before we moved, but the shelves are full again and I need to clean them up. I think that will help too.

  • Jess - A Book Hoarder September 8, 2014, 7:53 pm

    Damn you paradox of choice! I’m shaking my fist, you just can’t see it. At least I’m not the only one who suffers. Good luck!

    • Kim September 9, 2014, 8:01 pm

      Aside from feeling stressed, I think that is the biggest factor in this slump — too many options!

  • Lark @ The Bookwyrm's Hoard September 9, 2014, 1:38 pm

    Great post! I love the term “the paradox of choice”. It sums it up perfectly: we want choices, but too many can be paralyzing. As for slumps, you’ve defined the contributing factors well: stress, obligations, boredom and too many options.

    One thing I find when I get into a reading slump is that I turn back to old favorites. I’d actually prefer to read rather than watch TV or a movie, but particularly when I’m stressed, I find it therapeutic (or at least restful and comforting) to re-read books I love. Eventually, I feel refreshed enough (or occasionally get bored enough) to turn to something new again.

    That doesn’t help with the blogging slumps, though. If I’m burnt out on blogging, the only solution that seems to work is to take a breather. And maybe try to write some non-review posts – something thoughtful, or even something just plain fun, like the post I did on book cakes.

    • Kim September 9, 2014, 8:03 pm

      I read about the paradox of choice in a book called The Art of Choosing like four years ago, and it’s stuck with me ever since.

      I haven’t tried rereading in a slump. I can’t decide if that would be soothing, or if it would just contribute to the feeling that I “should” be reading something else and cause more guilt.

      I’ve been lightening up on blogging the last few months, and I do think it’s helping.

  • Monika @ Lovely Bookshelf September 11, 2014, 1:46 pm

    I haven’t heard of the paradox of choice, but YES, it makes so much sense.

  • Harvee Lau September 21, 2014, 10:41 am

    Whenever I find myself in a reading slump, I head for the library and that quickly cures my malaise. Just finished reading a terrific book on family dysfunction that is also a travel guide of a kind…Us by David Nicholls. Let me know if that will pull you out of a slump?