I cannot count the amount of reading slumps I go through in a year. They’re some of the most horrible things to experience, in my opinion. Each time I suffer, my eyes and thumbs scream at me while my screen time inevitably increases. It’s actually the craving for a digital respite that helps bring me back into the reading world.
Of course, that’s not the only reason. I read books to escape, to travel to different worlds and meet new characters, and, when I haven’t read in a while, I crave those worlds like I’m craving a holiday. But that doesn’t mean I find it easy to actually pick up a book.
We all go through these stages, where reaching out to a book is just too much effort. Sometimes, they’re just too hard to open, too heavy to pick up. So how do we break free and pull ourselves out of these horrible phases of our reading lives?
I’ve compiled a list of tips that have helped me out of reading slumps. Some might not work for you, while others might. If there’s anything I haven’t mentioned, something that’s worked for you, share it down below!
1. Take a book everywhere you go
Now obviously, this is a lot harder to follow now we’re in lockdown. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t carry a book everywhere; just take it with you around the house. Take it with you to your bedroom, kitchen, even your bathroom if you like!
If you’re working from home, keep a book near you for a quick two-minute screen break. Not only will remind you to read, but you’ll also be able to fully relax your mind before slipping back into work mode.
If you’re not working and are staying at home throughout the day, then you have even more time to read. Moving from your bed to your sofa? Take a book with you. Cooking? Read a page or two while your food sizzles away in the pan. Read in your bath or pop it up somewhere in your bathroom while you brush your teeth.
By simply keeping a book near you at all times, you’ll be reminded of your favourite stories, the fact that there’s a whole other world waiting for you. There are literally no excuses for not reading when a book is just seconds away. You’ll be surprised what the mere presence of a book can do for you – it’ll keep you coming back for more.
2. Get someone to read with you
This tip isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but it made a difference for me personally. I’m currently reading the LOTR trilogy, which my boyfriend loved when he was younger. He still does now but hasn’t read the books in years (mostly because he doesn’t read -_- ). But his love for the books means that he’s interested in what’s happening, my thoughts on different chapters, so sometimes I’ll read to him while he’s cooking or playing guitar.
This activity connects you to the book more than you realise, and it’ll encourage you to keep on reading as you’re in it together. It doesn’t matter if your reading partner has read the story or not – that’s what’s makes it exciting! You’re both on the same reading voyage, experiencing many lives together.
If you don’t have anyone to read to, maybe try audiobooks instead?
3. Remind yourself why you love reading
We all have fond memories of reading. So when you’re stuck in a slump, relive those memories. Remind yourself why you love reading in the first place.
Did you start reading because you were bored and wanted a hobby? Or maybe you were going through a stressful time and needed a break from your own world? Or perhaps you started because your parents forced you to choose a book from the library when you were little, and you ended up falling in love with the story?
Or was it because of the way certain words made you feel? The images they conjured in your head? Was it because of that one great book that was so perfect it was obviously written just for you?
We all have our own reasons for reading. Use yours as motivation to pick up a book again.
4. Listen to podcasts
I’ve already mentioned audiobooks in this post, but for those who, like me, don’t really get along with them, podcasts are a great alternative.
There are some fantastic podcasts out there that explore the literary world for both readers and writers alike. I find that listening to book reviews, writers’ routines, people’s reading experiences, and more makes me want to snuggle up in a blanket with a book open on my lap. These podcasts remind me of my appreciation for books and the complexities of the literary world, which can make stories more remarkable than I thought.
You feel more involved with the podcast too, sharing the same reading experiences, as part of the community.
If you’re not sure which podcast to start with, I’ve listed my favourites here.
5. Create a reading space – and stick to it!
No matter how small your house or room, you can make yourself a reading nook.
Reading nooks are little spots of heaven, which can be personalised and as open or private as you like. By setting a designated reading space and making use of it as often as you can, you’ll train your brain into switching on reading mode as soon as you sit down in that spot. It’s a bit like setting up a home office – your mind associates the room with work, meaning you’re more awake and motivated than you would be if you worked in bed.
I’ve written a few tips over on UCAS on creating a cosy reading nook – take a look if you’re looking for a place to start.
6. Join a book club
Obviously, right now, you can’t join a book club in person. Still, there are so many ways to connect with fellow book readers virtually.
As a bookstagrammer, I obviously recommend that Instagram reach out to other readers, joining book challenges and hashtags, but that’s not your only option.
You can start your own book club on platforms like Zoom if you know a few people who love reading. It doesn’t have to be a large group – my friend and I literally have our own book club between us, where we read a book a month.
Reading along with other people makes you more motivated, it’s like you have a deadline. I personally cannot work to deadlines set by myself, as I know that I’m the one who set it, so I can extend it as often as I want! So a book club can help keep me motivated and make me pick up a book.
7. Hide. your. damn. phone.
In all honesty, I’m still working on this one. But I am getting better!
Phones are the most distracting things ever, the biggest productivity killers on the planet. How many times have you picked up a book, read a few paragraphs, then became instantly distracted by the sound of notifications coming through?
Yes, sometimes, phones can be useful. I track my reading progress with the Read More app and set an alarm, so I know when I have to get back to work. But usually they just interrupt your reading session more than anything. If you need your phone by you for whatever reason, then make sure to put it on silent or airplane mode. If you don’t need it, keep it in another room, or ask someone to hide it and not tell you where it is until you’re done reading for the day.
Hopefully, these tips will help you get back into reading – if you have any other suggestions, let me know in the comments!