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Tackling Reading Slumps

I have been in the worst reading slump of my life —I haven’t opened a single book in almost two months. What was once my favorite pastime is now something I unfortunately abhor.

As an English student, semesters often leave me in reading slumps. Contrary to what one might think, consistently reading assigned literature for school can make reading a chore — even for English students. Books are my first love, and I don’t want to let that go. Slowly but surely, I’ve been forcing myself out of this slump.

Here are some things I have consciously been doing that have helped gradually return my affinity for reading:

1. Select Easy-to-Read Books

Choosing to read Murakami or Dostoyevsky to get out of a slump isn’t the wisest decision. Though these authors have written some of my favorite works, they aren’t the easiest to digest or understand. Laced with complicated prose, diction, characters, plots, and subplots, complex and long books will most likely leave you frustrated with an increased aversion to reading. The first book that helped me take the first step to gradually leave my ongoing slump was a short, fast-paced work, Sula by Toni Morrison. Reading short books will help feel like you have accomplished something and can motivate you to read more!

2. Set Milestones

Setting reading goals for yourself can be a bit tricky. They can make you feel like reading is something you are forcing yourself to do. However, setting a simple, easy-to-accomplish goal can help motivate you. I have set a simple daily goal for myself: read five to ten pages of anything everyday. It doesn’t even have to be a book — it could be a fashion magazine, a gossip tabloid, a blog, anything! As long as you’re feeding your brain with words, it’ll help stimulate your mind and eventually make you feel like reading isn’t a chore anymore.

Don’t force yourself to read something if you don’t feel like it though — we all have bad days where we don’t feel like doing anything. So, if you really don’t feel like reading anything, don’t! This will just make your slump worse. Remember: progress isn’t linear.

3. Read Something Other Than Literature

Similar to my previous point, only reading literature to get out of a slump will most likely not work. Reading isn’t limited to published novels — it can really be anything you want. Lately, I’ve found myself reading Rayne Fisher-Quann’s essays. Her writing style is something I admire, and her think-pieces, blogs, and essays cover topics that are of great importance to me. I know that even though I’m not reading novels as often, I’m still reading something that is of value to me and my principles. I’m not too hard on myself for not reading three books a week like I used to — and you shouldn’t be either! Baby steps are key — setting a goal that imitates your previous reading habits would not work, and you’ll find yourself frustrated. Be easy on yourself, and enjoy reading what you want.

4. Re-discover Your Favorite Books

As an English student, I often feel like I should be reading complex and acclaimed novels. Though I do love them, they’re not my favorites to read in a slump. One of my favorite series of all time is Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson. I felt a bit silly reading books that I read when I was ten years old, but stories don’t have a prescribed age.

Revisiting a series that sparked my love for reading was so much fun! I already knew what was going to happen, what the characters were like, and the author’s writing style — it was predictable, and that was comforting to me. Going back to where it all started helped me so much in slowly getting out of my slump. I highly recommend picking up your childhood favorites to remind yourself why you started reading in the first place!

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