12 Ways to Overcome Your Reading Slump: Strategies to Read More

For those of us who are passionate about reading, a reading slump can be a frustrating and disheartening experience. It’s as if our favorite activity, the one that usually provides solace and adventure, has lost its magic. 

Reading slumps are, however, a common affliction. With the right strategies and a bit of patience you can get back to devouring books with the same enthusiasm.

Here are some tips on how to overcome your reading slump and reignite your reading fervor.

1. Reflect on the Cause

The first step in overcoming a reading slump is to identify its cause. What might be triggering your lack of interest and motivation in reading? Sometimes, external factors like work or personal life demands can take a toll on your reading time. The most common causes are stress, burnout, and life changes. Understanding the root of the problem will may help you address it more effectively.

It could also be that you’ve read too many books in a similar genre or with the same theme. This can create a temporary lack of interest that can be overcome by mixing up the type of books your are reading. The Travel Reading List Challenge is a great way to find a way out of your book slump – just move to a challenging prompt to find a great book for your next read. Or may try a shorter book than the epic tomes on your to-be-read list.

2. Revisit Old Favorites

Sometimes, the best way to rekindle your love for reading is to pick up an old favorite. Your favorite books likely hold a special place in your heart (and mind), providing comfort and familiarity during a stressful time. It’s link putting on your favorite sweater, taking a long bubble bath, or spending time binging a favorite television show. There’s just something comforting about it.

Re-reading a cherished book can bring back the feelings of excitement and wonder that you initially experienced when you first read it.  As you immerse yourself in the much loved pages of a favorite book, it can serve as a comforting reminder of why you fell in love with reading in the first place. You may even notice new details or appreciate the book in a different light upon revisiting it, making the experience feel fresh and engaging once again, helping to overcome a lack of motivation to tackle other reading.

3. Set Realistic Goals

If your reading slump is due to feeling overwhelmed by an extensive reading list – and what avid reader doesn’t have a lengthy TBR list – consider setting more realistic and achievable reading goals.

In a world where reading challenges and book club commitments can create an unintended sense of pressure, you can still set realistic reading goals. If you’re finding it challenging to read a book a week or follow a strict reading schedule, take a step back and reevaluate. Start by setting small, manageable goals that are tailored to your current circumstances. Adjust your reading target to a manageable level. Instead of aiming for a book a week, try for one every two weeks. Your goals are your own, unless you choose to share them, so don’t worry if you’ve surpassed goals from last year, are keeping of the reading Joneses, or have switched to audio books while your commuting.

By setting achievable reading goals, you can eliminate the pressure that comes with unattainable targets. Whether you aim to read a chapter a day or a certain number of pages per week, mixing it up can help shake things up when you’re in the midst of a reading slump. 

4. Diversify Your Reading

Changing up your reading choices can be a refreshing way to combat a slump. If you typically read one genre, try something entirely different. Experiment with non-fiction, short stories, graphic novels, short story collections, or comic books. Variety can invigorate your reading experience.

If you usually stick to a particular genre or author, it’s possible that you’re simply experiencing genre fatigue. Exploring new genres, styles, or authors can introduce freshness into your reading routine. Challenge yourself to read something outside your comfort zone, whether it’s a historical novel, a science fiction thriller, or a collection of essays. Find ideas from a different genre on the Travel Reading List challenge prompts. Diversifying your reading can open up a world of new perspectives and storytelling techniques that reignite your passion for books.

5. Create a Comfortable Reading Environment

Ensure that your reading space is comfortable and inviting. A cozy chair, soft lighting, and a warm blanket can make a significant difference in your reading experience., and an appealing atmosphere can help you look forward to reading time.

Creating a comfortable reading environment can significantly impact your reading experience, so consider investing some time and effort in designing a cozy and inviting reading nook. I have some comfy pillows for the couch, a warm blanket to wrap up in when I’m in my favorite chair, and I confess to a bathtub caddy for reading in the bath. I can most anywhere, but when I’m in the middle of a reading slump, having a special spot makes me look forward to reading every day. 

6. Time Management

Sometimes, reading slumps occur because of poor time management. A lot of things fall through the cracks because of poor time management, so a little organization may help in all areas of life. 

Organize your schedule to incorporate dedicated reading time.  It’s easy to let reading time slip through the cracks. To ensure you have dedicated reading time, incorporate it into your daily or weekly schedule.  Setting aside just 15-30 minutes a day can make a considerable difference in your reading progress. Experiment with different time periods – morning, during lunch breaks, or before bed. The key is consistency. Carving out time for reading demonstrates your commitment to the activity and helps build a routine that supports your reading habit. 

7. Join a Book Club

Book clubs are excellent for breaking the monotony of reading alone. Engaging in discussions and sharing thoughts about a book can reignite your passion for reading and introduce you to titles you might not have picked up otherwise. Book clubs should offer a supportive and social reading experience that stimulate discussions with fellow readers. It’s also an opportunity to explore new genres and titles that you might not have considered on your own, or to explore a popular book on a deeper level.

Additionally, the regular meetings and discussions provide accountability and motivation to keep up with your reading goals. The anticipation of discussing a book with your club members can be a powerful incentive to pick up the next book on your list. But don’t let a book clubs become a drag on your reading life. If it’s stressing you out or not working for you, it’s okay to move on.

8. Audiobooks and E-books

Don’t be too rigid about the format you read. I’m a Kindle reader because I travel a lot and can’t cart books around with me. I can carry an entire library on my Kindle, and since it fit’s in my purse, I’m never without something to read.

When I need to mix it up, I queue up an audiobook on my phone.  An audiobook provides flexibility and convenience, and is perfect for when I’m walking, doing household chores, or cooking dinner. It took me awhile to find the type of books I enjoyed in audio format, so a little trial and error may be necessary. I’ve listed to more audio books this past year than ever before, and I expect that will continue to expand. If you don’t have time to sit down with a book, perhaps tryin an audiobook will be the slump buster you need.

9. Take a Break

Sometimes, the best way to overcome a reading slump is to take a break from reading. Give yourself permission to step away from books for a little while. Pursue your other interests or hobbies, and return to reading when the desire rekindles naturally. Taking a break from reading is a sometimes necessary approach to overcoming a reading slump. Everyone experiences ebbs and flows in their reading habits. Stepping away from books for a while doesn’t mean you’ve lost your love for reading; it simply means you’re taking time to recharge and explore other interests.

During your reading hiatus, use the opportunity to indulge in other hobbies or activities you’re passionate about. Whether it’s painting, hiking, cooking, or learning a new language, investing time in other pursuits can refresh your mind and offer new experiences that may indirectly influence your reading choices in the future. Once you’ve had time to recharge and regain your enthusiasm for reading, you can return to your bookshelf with renewed excitement.

10. Set Reading Challenges

Setting reading challenges or goals can provide motivation, whether it’s reading a specific number of pages each day, reading a specific number of pages or weeks in a row, or trying to complete a themed reading challenge (like our reading challenge). Quantifiable motivation can can help you focus your reading efforts.

Here are a few types of reading challenges you can consider:

  • Goodreads Reading Challenge: Goodreads allows you to set a yearly reading goal where you specify the number of books you plan to read in a year. As you update your progress, you’ll see how close you are to meeting your target. Most years I’ve barely made my number. This year, I blew past it, in large part because I’ve incorporated different ways of reading into my reading life. 
  • Page Count Challenges: Instead of focusing on the number of books, set a goal for the number of pages you want to read in a week or month. This approach can be especially useful if you’re tackling a lengthy book or a ponderous classic.
  • Genre Exploration Challenges: Challenge yourself to explore a new genre or subgenre each month. This concept, combined with our love of travel, is what led us to create the Travel Reading Challenge List. We’ve chosen to focus on broad prompts, so you can interpret them how you wish while still nudging you to look for new options. The challenge has opened me up to young adult novels, more literary fiction, speculative fiction, and even a fantasy novel – or two – that I’ve enjoyed. My list of favorite subjects to read has expanded.
  • Author Spotlights: Dedicate a month or a season to reading books by a specific author. Dive deep into their works and explore their different writing styles and themes. I’m an avid reader of series, giving me a look at how a author has evolved storytelling and characters over a period of time.
  • Themed Challenges: Create themed reading challenges based on holidays, seasons, or specific topics that interest you. For example, you can have a “Summer Romance” challenge or a “Spooky October” challenge for horror and thriller books. We always incorporate a few of these ideas into our challenge list.

11. Avoid Pressure and Guilt

Avoid putting unnecessary pressure on yourself. Reading should be a pleasure, not a chore. Don’t feel guilty for not reading as much as you’d like during a slump. It’s okay to take it easy. One of the most critical aspects of overcoming a reading slump is to release the pressure and guilt associated with it. Reading is a personal journey, and there should be no fixed rules or expectations. Whether you read one book a week or one book a month, the pace is entirely your own.

Challenges and goals don’t work for everyone, and comparing your reading habits to others or striving for an arbitrary reading target can lead to unnecessary stress and guilt. Read at your own pace. Enjoy the journey of reading, whether that’s a quick read or one that take a long time. Enjoy the journey.

12. Seek Inspiration

Engage with book-related content to reignite your passion for reading. Follow book bloggers, watch booktubers, explore literary podcasts, or scroll through #bookstagram (on Instagram). A love of books can be infectious, and when you’re stuck in a reading slump, sometimes all it takes to reignite your passion for books is a dose of inspiration. Engage with the vibrant online book community, where fellow book lovers share their enthusiasm, recommendations, and insights. 

Here are a few ways to seek inspiration:

  • Follow Book Bloggers: Many avid readers maintain blogs where they review books, discuss reading challenges, and provide reading recommendations. These blogs can introduce you to new books and authors, making you excited to pick up a new read.\
  • Watch Booktubers: YouTube is home to countless “Booktubers” who create video content about books. They often share book hauls, reviews, and reading vlogs, offering a visual and personal approach to book recommendations.
  • Listen to Literary Podcasts: Literary podcasts are a fantastic way to immerse yourself in book-related discussions and author interviews. They can help you discover new titles and perspectives on literature.
  • Social Media Book Communities: Platforms like Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook have thriving book communities where readers share their current reads, bookish photos, and reading challenges. 

A reading slump can affect even the most devoted readers, but it doesn’t have to be a permanent state. By understanding the cause, adjusting your goals, and trying new reading strategies, you can overcome this temporary setback and rediscover the joy of reading. Remember, a reading slump is just a pause in your reading journey, not the end of it. Keep exploring, stay patient, and you’ll soon find yourself back in the loving embrace of books. Happy reading!

Mary Jo Manzanares