My husband and I hopped onto Pottermore to get sorted into our Hogwarts House, find our patronus and our wands. Check it out!
Like the people from the Village who refrain from talking about “Those-We-Don’t-Speak-Of” or uttering Lord Voldemort’s name (whoops), dedicated readers shudder at the mention of the awful reading slump. We have ARCs to review and Goodreads challenges to complete! We have reader advisory lists we need to compile! We don’t have time for a reading slump!
Here are a few practices I’ve put in place that help stave off a reading slump. This is more of a subjective issue since we all go about reading differently and our goals for reading vary greatly, but, hopefully, you’ll find some of these tips helpful as you structure your reading practices.
Dedicate space and time for reading.
Nothing is worse than feeling like you have no time or space for reading. There have been times where my work and personal life are so crazy and hectic that I’ll try reading books in snippets here and there without dedicating any time for sitting down and reading a book for more than ten minutes. Yet, the best reading gets done when we’re able to put away distractions and find a place that makes it possible for us to engage with a piece of work and enjoy it. Sometimes, we need a little downtime with a good book and when we can’t have it (or don’t make time for it), we stop reading altogether.
So how do you make this happen? You prioritize reading, just like you would exercising each day or cooking for the week or whatever other daily practices you make time for. Write it in your planner if it helps you, but if you know that reading is an important part of your life, make time for it. Dedicated reading time is a part of my self-care routine because it is high on my priority list, so I make time to do it (and ask for Panera gift cards for my birthday because I can get A LOT of books read with coffee and pastry in hand).
Don’t be afraid to put a book down.
I know, you paid $17.00 – $28.00 for that new hardcover, but every sentence is more painful than the last. Like making friends or finding romantic partners, sometime you and a book do not belong together.
Not finishing a book can feel like a failure because you’ve made a commitment to reading it and shared it on Goodreads. You don’t want people to know you’ve failed a liking a book. You think you should power through this and see if it has any redeeming qualities (it probably won’t). But the alternative, telling your to-be-read shelf that you need a break for awhile, would be worse.
It’s absolutely okay to put a book down that you’re not enjoying because it’s not possible to like every book you pick up. Pushing yourself to finish a title that isn’t sparking your interest, like our last point, doesn’t create an engaging, enjoyable experience you want to return to again and again. There are so many books out there waiting to be discovered and enjoyed. Why waste your time reading one you despise?
Switch up what you’re reading.
This is probably the rule that has helped me the most, especially when I have required reading to do. I find the best way to keep myself engaged with reading is to continually change genres, topics, forms, etc. to keep myself from reading too much of one kind of book at once.
One way I think about this is with topics of books. If a book is a really heavy read (death, family dysfunction, mental illness, etc.) I’ll make the next book on my list a light-hearted, comedic book (it’s probably a romance in my case) to give myself space from the heavy topic I just pondered over the course of reading a book.
Again, this comes down to the idea of staying engaged with what I’m reading, and if I’m tired of a genre or want to lift my spirits after reading a dense, sad book, then it’s time to move onto something new.
Don’t overload yourself with too many options.
I am the kind of reader that likes to read one book at a time, but I do occasionally pick up two or three books to read through simultaneously. Even if you are the kind of person that like to read multiple titles, it’s best to avoid overloading yourself with too many half-started books.
Having too many options because you’ve begun four or five books can become overwhelming, not only because there are too many options to choose from but you’ve also added the pressure of trying to finish all the books you’ve begun. If the task at hand of finishing these titles begins to feel overwhelming, you’re more likely to walk away from reading than you are to stick around and finish all the books.
My personal recommendation is to max yourself out with three titles you’re reading at a time, but, again, you need to find the best fit for you as an individual.
Sometimes it’s okay to take a break.
That’s right – sometimes it is okay to set the book down for awhile. Sometimes we just need to watch a season of Scandal instead of reading another 400-page historical fiction novel. That’s totally fine. Just like going on vacation from your job, it’s okay to take a book vacation, too. Soon enough you’ll be daydreaming about all the books you’re excited to read and it will be time to hop back on the reading wagon.
What do you do to keep yourself out of reading slumps? Let me know in the comments below and share your ideas!
Check out my new weekly video all about recommending books for Teen Read Week! We have some classics, lots of great romances, and maybe only one fantasy rec (but hey, I’m working on it).
Book clubs are a fun and effective way to meet other book lovers with similar interests, so here are a few tips I’ve learned along the way from starting and running my own book club. When you’re done reading, grab a bottle of wine, call your gal pals, and rush on over to your local bookstore or library (subtle hint) and get your own book club started!
Make sure participants have shared goals in mind.
Thinking about what goals you have in mind for your book club and making sure everyone involved is aware and in agreement is crucial to making your book club a success.One to do this is to set up an interest meeting – formal or informal – to talk about how the book club will function. How often will you meet? Will there be a theme each month? Is your book club restricting what kinds of books you’ll be reading (young adult, mystery, non-fiction, literary)? What kind of atmosphere will it be?
Presenting an outline to potential participants will give them the opportunity to decide whether this book club is the right fit for them or not. If you’re looking to host a book club where the majority of time will be focused on book discussion and a participant is looking for an opportunity to socialize, they might be disappointed when fifty minutes of an hour discussion is used to talk about the book. You also don’t want participants showing up to book club thinking they are going to reading literary fiction if your focus is going to be on romance novels. They’ll be disappointed because the book club did not meet their expectations. Laying out all details will help you avoid potential conflicts and/or frustration.
NOTE: If you have no theme in mind or are not tailoring your book club to be genre-specific, it’s also a good idea to take inventory of what kind of books your members are interested in reading. This will guide you through the most difficult process of setting up a book club – picking out which books to read.
Don’t let one person make your book selections.
If I could climb to the top of a mountain with a megaphone and yell this for all to hear, I would. Repeat this refrain with me a few times. Do not let one person select the book. Do not let one person select the book. DO NOT LET ONE PERSON SELECT THE BOOK.
Picking out books to read is a tricky job in the first place and it’s even trickier when you are trying to please a variety of tastes. No one likes to hear that everyone hated the book that was selected that month, especially if you decided to pick out a book you absolutely adore. To avoid hurt feelings or starting a trend where the majority of your participants dislike what you read, make it everyone’s decision.
While having a group decision sounds difficult, I’ve found this method to be surprisingly easy. Between our book club meetings, I ask participants to send me recommendations of books they think would make great discussion. Each month, I select three to four titles for our book club selection (for two months in advance) and print up sheets that have synopses of all the titles. The first five minutes of our meeting each month are spent reading over the synopses and taking a group vote.
Making book selection a group decision takes the pressure off of one person so no feelings are hurt if the book isn’t a smash hit with the group. Additionally, it’s rare that the book choices are consistently disliked by participants since they had some say in the process. This minimizes the feeling of being obligated to read material they don’t like and keeps everyone happy.
Don’t let your group get too big.
If you want your group to be focused on having a thoughtful discussion, make sure you keep your group size to a manageable number. The ideal number for a good discussion is around 8 – 10 people. This allows everyone the opportunity to talk (if they choose) and gives you enough people to keep the conversation going.My book club is more casual in that we encourage people to read and come if they can and if they can’t, that’s okay. This means that I have approximately 15 people on my mailing list, and I consistently get anywhere between 6 – 10 people for every book discussion.
Of course, this is just a suggestion. If you are looking to have more of a social event, you might want more people at your book club, and that’s great! You’ll just want to figure that out beforehand so you can prep your book clubs accordingly.
Mix it up.
Unless you have a group that’s narrowly sticking to a theme or genre, make sure to keep your book club selections exciting by mixing it up. For instance, my book club leans towards reading more literary fiction, but we’ve also read some wonderful light-hearted, entertaining reads and make an effort to add in non-fiction every few months.
Other ideas to consider for your book club is to switch up the format. Perhaps your typical meeting consists of selecting books, socializing for a little bit, and then discussing the book for the rest of the time. For your next meeting, you might want to host a book club where you read a title that was recently made into a film and host a movie night instead (beware of copyright law if it is a public event) or maybe even read a book where a local author will be coming to town and go as a group. Changing up your format can help keep things exciting and is a great way for your group to bond with each other.
Borrow books instead of purchasing them.
While buying books is an easy way to read whatever title the group is interested in, consistently purchasing books can be expensive and exclusionary for some people. Plus, why buy something when you can borrow it for free? Many libraries are a part of a library system and are able to request titles through their Interlibrary Loan service, making getting eight copies of Tell the Wolves I’m Home a breeze.Of course, that means you will have to check with your library system to make sure there are enough copies available, but wonderful book fairies who are also sometimes referred to as a librarian LOVE to help you find great book club titles to read. Also, some library systems have book club in a bag kits available for checkout (ours does). A typical bag will come with about a dozen copies of a title and a set of book club questions.
And make sure they’re delicious. Need I say more?
Here is the link to my first Youtube video! I’m so excited to share with you all the books I plan on reading for the month of October. Enjoy and happy reading!