Reading Slump 4/31 #sol23

Between the bookshelves in my house and the bookshelves in my classroom–not to mention my mother’s bookshelves and the five public libraries I frequent–I have access to plenty of books I want to read. Thousands.

But somehow I can’t find anything to read. Or rather, I can’t find anything I want to keep reading. The stacks of books I’ve started and abandoned pile up near my office chair, beside the bed, by my desk, in tote bags ready to return to the library.

I’m Goldilocks in the book stacks right now, rejecting book after book. Too long, too short; too lush, too bare; too impenetrable, too facile; too bleak, too light.

My usual cures for a reading slump–rereading an old favorite or reading a graphic novel-haven’t worked. I’ve tried at least a dozen old favorites before giving up and putting them back on the shelves. I even stalled out halfway through both graphic novels I’ve started.

I’ve switched my usual genres to try poetry and essays, switched my usual formats to try audiobooks and ebooks. Nothing works.

I finished only one book in February (in January, I finished nine): T. Kingfisher’s Nettle & Bone, simply marvelous from first page to last. I finished a book and loved it–which sounds like the perfect cure for a reading slump. But instead, Nettle & Bone produced a related reading problem: the book hangover. My reading slump simply became more focused as I started and abandoned one T. Kingfisher novel after another and one fantasy readalike after another.

Can I call it a reading slump if I’m still reading? If I counted up all the pages I’ve read in the books I’ve abandoned, I’m sure I read the equivalent of six or seven books in February. It’s more a slump in feeling and fervor than in action and routine.

And I know it will end. Of course it will end, because slumps always do. Eventually I’ll start that just right book that keeps me turning the pages all the way to the end. And then I’ll read another good book through to the end, and another. I’ll congratulate myself on ending the slump and convince myself, as I always do, that I’ve found the cure once and for all. No more reading slumps for me!

Until the cycle begins again.

Do you experience reading slumps? What’s your go-to cure?






18 responses to “Reading Slump 4/31 #sol23”

  1. margaretsmn Avatar

    After I’ve read a really good book, I usually take a break because I know that nothing will match up and I’m still reeling from that good book. Now I am reading A Man Called Ove, but I saw the wonderful movie with Tom Hanks, so it feels like a replay. I’m reading, but not totally in it. On the audiobook side, I listened to Sara Bareilles’s memoir Sounds Like Me. I highly recommend it. In my “book”, I think a reading break is allowed.

  2. Leigh Anne Eck Avatar
    Leigh Anne Eck

    It seems my reading slumps occur when I can’t read for whatever reason, and then so much time goes past that it is hard to get back into that reading rhythm. I love your Goldilocks comparison! I wish I had an answer for both of us.

  3. Trina Avatar

    I resonate with this SO much! I, too, have access to thousands of books and often get into the “I can’t find anything to read” mode. You are not alone, friend! Sometimes I get my best reading finds from displays at my local library.

  4. Amanda Potts Avatar

    Oh yes, this is me (though not at this exact moment). “It’s more a slump in feeling and fervor than in action and routine” is the perfect description – well, that and Goldilocks in the book stacks. Lately I’ve started wondering if some of my book slumps are my brain’s way of telling me it’s time to write for a while. Here’s to finding the book that ends the slump!

  5. arjeha Avatar

    I think all of us have experienced reading slumps where no book seems right for the moment. Sometime when the hit I go back to an author I enjoy. I have read many of her books but nowhere near all of them, so I have plenty to choose from. For me, that author is Agatha Christie.

    1. Wondering and Wandering Avatar

      Me, too! Love a good Agatha!

  6. Deb Avatar

    Yep. I think we all have them. I go to easy, breezy reads when this happens…Nora Roberts, James Patterson, John Grisham. Something like that. But lately, Sarah Addison Allen has come into my life and I’m loving everything I read. Next up? Other Birds.

  7. Max @ Completely Full Bookshelf Avatar
    Max @ Completely Full Bookshelf

    I’m totally in a reading slump right now, to be honest, and I don’t have a great solution myself—I tend to just ride it out until books grab my attention again! I have to remember that my other interests and hobbies can be just as valid as reading (even if reading is the only one I keep coming back to). Also, I did want to stop by and say that I’ve been reading all your SOL posts and am *so* excited to see them back—I’ll be reading them in my email inbox all March!

  8. Glenda Funk Avatar

    Maybe our reading muscles are like our physical ones: in need of a break from time to time. Maybe you should binge watch a Vapid Netflix series until you’re back to books. Give yourself grace and time to thirst for reading again. I recently finished The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo while traveling. I never finish a book on an international trip. I’m reading The Silent Patient now. Neither book is typical of genres I usually choose. Good luck finding your reading mojo, Elizabeth.

  9. Heidi Allum Avatar

    That sounds terrible. Like, wow. I am so sorry. Sincerely.
    OK, here are what I have loved recently:

    The City We Became NK Jemison
    Gingerbread Helen Oyeyemi
    The Merciless Ones Namina Forna

  10. Heidi Atlas Avatar

    I love your take on this! And I certainly have had my share of reading slumps. I love when you actually are completely in a book and there’s lots more book left. I recently read Pachinko and really liked it. Then I read Clint Smith’s How the Word is Passed, which is such an important great read. Now I’m reading The Latecomer by Jean Hanff Korelitz. I chose this one because I really like The Plot that she wrote. Soon you’ll be back, no doubt.

  11. Wondering and Wandering Avatar

    You are most definitely not alone. This happens to me all the time. Two suggestions. 1) Join Goodreads at It’s free and I have enough “friends” on there now that are pretty active and I’m able to instantly add books they are reading and enjoying with the “I want to read” button. Friend me — Christie Wyman. 2) If you like podcasts, download Stephanie Affinito’s Get Lit(rate) podcast. Every Tuesday she chooses a theme and makes 3 recommendations. I’ve loved her suggestions so far!

  12. amyilene Avatar

    Oy! Yes, the reading slump finds me more often than I care to admit. While it doesn’t necessarily fix my slump, poetry does give me a respite until I find my next extended read. I am also not shy about picking up my absolute favorite book, Their Eyes Were Watching God and reconnecting with my favorite character, Janie.

  13. Susan Kennedy Avatar

    I had a real slump after the pandemic. I couldn’t seem to read. every time I started reading, I would fall asleep. I seem to have left that behind after our summer vacation last year, where I read 7-8 books in our week long vacation. This February, I only read two books on vacation, but I seem to have accumulated a few books with a creature theme.

    West with Giraffes
    Remarkably Bright Creatures
    Sometimes I find if I read something that is lighter, I can ease myself back into it. Especially a mystery.

  14. evarkaplan Avatar

    I totally connect to this slice. I have a bookclub that meets month or two and the host chooses the novel. I always read the selected novel, and often I have to force myself to get through it. It’s not the most fun reading something you’re not enjoying. But, this club pushes me to read books I ordinarily would never pick up. Lately I’ve been missing reading a book I totally enjoy – characters I absolutely love and miss when the book ends. Recently, I did something I haven’t for years and years… I read some smut! I read a book titled, People You Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry and it was soooooooo much fun. Sometimes you just need a light, fun romance novel to get your reading life back on track!

  15. natashadomina Avatar

    I want to share your post with my class–I think it’s so valuable for kids to hear that slumps happen, and that they’re okay. What’s important is to know what you express at the end of your piece, “Of course it will end, because slumps always do.” It’s unsettling while it lasts though, isn’t it? This line also stood out to me: “It’s more a slump in feeling and fervor than in action and routine.” It makes me think of a post I read yesterday about someone who struggled to do her morning exercise workout–she kept beginning sequences and then abandoning them. I woke up this morning thinking about how hard she was on herself, and wishing she could recognize the importance of just showing up, and holding a space for doing the full routines on the days when she’s able to. It seems like you’re doing the same thing–showing up and holding a space for having a reader-ly life. Maybe reading slices can be your genre for the month!

  16. karpenglish Avatar

    I think I have had more reading slumps since 2020 than in the rest of my life combined. Sometimes it is just so hard to focus and concentrate on reading. When I cannot settle on what I want to read and am stuck, I usually go for a sequel, or the next book in a series. I find that the fact that I know the characters and world and what to expect pulls me in right away and I don’t have those long (in a slump!) pages of exposition before my attention is captured. Luckily for me, I don’t like to read all the books in a series all at once, so I usually have a whole lot of go-to series to pick up when reading suddenly turns against me. Also, I have not read Nettle & Bone yet, but it looks great! I really enjoyed T. Kingfisher’s A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking, but I think the tone is quite different in that one. But, there are magical gingerbread people who can dance AND fight, so that’s a bonus.

  17. aggiekesler Avatar

    I know how you feel…although I’d describe my reading more as in spurts. I’ll read 3 books one week and then take 3 weeks to read the next one. I hope that just right book finds you soon! 😉

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