The reading slump is a real, horrible, clever little monster. It sneaks up on you and preys on your complacency. One day you wake up and you can’t remember the last book you read, the books on your nightstand have been replaced with dust. Maybe you noticed it earlier, when no book you picked up was good enough, the words couldn’t hold your attention, or you always felt like you needed to be doing something else.
It happens to the best of us.
My reading slump lasted for around 3 years. Years!
Most of my freshman, sophomore, and junior years in college were dark times for my reading life. I maybe was only reading 4 books a year (this was before I decided to track my reading, so I really have no idea), which would have been fine if reading hadn’t been such a big part of my life up to that point. Looking back, I probably know what caused my slump: passion. I just didn’t have it. I was a history major in college and my heart just wasn’t in it. Don’t get me wrong, history is one of my life’s great loves, but it works better for me as a hobby, rather than a career. When, as a junior I changed my major to social work, I thought I finally felt like I was doing what I was supposed to be doing, and after five years of college, I got that degree!
When I began pursuing something that fulfilled my heart, I was left craving books again. (That was also right around the time when I started working at a bookstore and was just getting engaged, so those two things probably helped too.)
Different articles give different advice, such as re-organizing your bookshelf, visiting a library/bookstore, and rereading an old favorite.
I was lucky enough that my slump was broken just by finding the right few books at the right time that.
So without further adieu, these are the 4 books that helped me conquer my reading slump.
1. The Nightingale by Kristen Hannah
What can I say about The Nightingale other than I was absolutely enthralled, encouraged, and enchanted by this WWII novel set in France. This is surprisingly the first WWII book I’ve read that was set in France and I absolutely loved the setting and the characters. This was absolutely the book I needed to kick my reading off. Oh, did I mention that I ugly cried at the local Barnes & Noble when I finished it? Well, I did. No shame.
2. Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandell
I’ve heard people say that they hate that this book as post-apocalyptic, but I think the minimalist setting of an underpopulated work is a fantastic backdrop on which the author gets to explore things like art and family and surviving with your humanity intact. I also enjoyed the experience of thinking just how exactly you would explain air conditioning to someone who has never heard of it.
3. The Martian by Andy Weir
This was the comedy/science book that I think my ‘read’ shelf didn’t know it needed. And while I never really feared for his life, I was absolutely riveted by the unfortunate events that befall our stranded astronaut stranded on Mars and the totally science-y ways that Mark Watney got out of it. This book really had me thinking that I could become an astronaut and grow potatoes on Mars. Even though I know there is no stinking way. Nope.
4. Brain on Fire by Susanna Cahalan
This is the first non-fiction I can remember reading that didn’t feel like work. Cahalan is a journalist by trade, so when some weird brain disease junk started messing up her life, she had the perfect edge to get her started on the book. This is another one that made me feel smarter about science and the brain and diseases and stuff. Wicked cool first-hand account of some crazy, crazy stuff.
Have you even been in a book slump? If so, what did you do to jump yourself out of it? I’d love to know what books help you when you are in a rut!
And may your shelves never get dusty!