A Solution to the Reading Slump

The Book of LifeI never thought I’d say this, but here’s my answer to the reading slump:  Stop reading.

About three weeks ago, I had a period of major crunching, and for two solid weeks I didn’t read a thing.  My review books lay sulking on the table.  The books I’d borrowed from friends were abandoned.  Comfort reads were no longer a comfort – how could they be, when I couldn’t even face opening their covers?  No newspapers, no magazines, and had the Bernstein Bears appeared I would have shunned them too.  In short, I went into total reading freeze.  For me, that’s huge.

The main reason was simply a question of fatigue – I’ve been too tired to do anything except work, eat, and sleep, emphasis on the latter.  But when it was over, and after getting a solid ten hours of sleep, I successfully opened a book.  And from the ashes arose an interesting realization: I was glad to take a break from reading.  I was satisfied that I had stopped.  I read that book enthusiastically, even though it turned out to be a dud.  I was once again happy in the world of literature.  All because I’d stopped reading.

I suppose coming from a representative (voluntary or otherwise) of a literary publication (online or otherwise), this sounds mighty strange.  But sometimes a clean, temporary break is best.  Most of us have gorged ourselves at some time or other and felt sick afterwards, be it Thanksgiving dinner, Coldplay or Julia Quinn.  I almost killed any enjoyment of Pride and Prejudice when I watched it ad nauseum, day in, day out.  I finally forced myself away, but it sure taught me to take things in small doses.

This particular time, I don’t think I’ve been overdosing on reading or romance novels.  But when I went back after taking a break, I realized I was reading with fresher eyes: Fresh in the sense that I’d been straining them, but I also felt as if I’d come home from vacation.  Home is familiar and comfortable, even though the second stair still creaks or you have to go back to sharing a bed with your sister.  But I also appreciate what I didn’t have for a while, and especially the fact that I have the leisure and ability to return to it.

It’s strange what a change of pace can do, even if it’s as simple as changing a pervasive, lifelong habit such as reading.

-Jean Wan AAR

3 thoughts on “A Solution to the Reading Slump

  1. —Jean Wan said: It’s strange what a change of pace can do, even if it’s as simple as changing a pervasive, lifelong habit such as reading.—

    Congratulations, Jean. That’s an excellent conclusion and antidote to the reading doldrums. After attempting several different things during such slumps, I’ve found that changes of pace work the best. In other words, just go with the flow, relax and stay away from books if that’s what your mind is telling you to do. When you do return (and you will, but with probably a little less gusto), then you know that a little time away was good for the soul too.

  2. Although I wasn’t in the midst of a reading slump at the time, there’ve been times when circumstances forced me to take time off from reading. The longest period was during college, when I didn’t allow myself to indulge my fiction reading habit for YEARS. Every time I return to reading after a break, I return with a gusto and enthusiasm I didn’t have before.

    Although the thought of willingly taking a break from reading strikes fear into my heart, the next time I experience a reading slump I may very well do that.

  3. Fortunately I’ve never had a reading slump. I can’t imagine not reading every single day. But if I don’t like a book, I won’t finish it; I’ll just dump it and start another.

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