The Dreaded Reading Slump (Or: What to Do When You Want to Read but Just Can’t)

I’m sure we’ve all been there. You pick up a book that sounds good, read a handful of pages but nothing’s catching your attention. So, certain it’s just a bad book or the wrong type for right now, you try another one, to much the same effect. Or, maybe you can’t even bring yourself to crack open any of your books.

The reading slump: the bane of book bloggers everywhere. (And most readers, too.) It can cause you to fall behind on your reviews, make you buy too many books in search of the one that’s ‘just right,’ and just generally wreak havoc on your well ordered life.

Symptoms

Frustration and an over abundance of books ‘started’ but not finished. General bouts of lethargy. Long minutes spent simply staring at your bookcase or mindlessly skimming through your kindle.

Causes

The direct cause of the reading slump is unknown. Contributing factors can include, but is not limited to, reading a lot and causing burnout, reading several bad books in a row, real-life stress intruding on your book reading. Also could be caused by frustration at the books – even if they aren’t ‘bad.’

Treatment Options

1. Change What You’re Reading

This can be as simple as switching genres – in which case it’s probably genre burnout. (I have totally been there.) If it’s more than just genre burnout, you might need to try reading some comics/graphic novels/manga – or even some fan fiction. (Fair warning, if you’re anything like me, you’ll vanish into fan fiction and quite possibly never return.)

2. Reread Some Old Favorites

Sometimes rereading a book that you love can be enough to jolt you out of a slump with a reminder to why you enjoy reading so much in the first place. Related:

3. Read A Favorite Author

If you’ve a favorite author that has books you’ve not read, you could try reading one of them. Beware, this does run the risk of you actually not liking a book because, no matter how much you love their other work, no author is infallible.

4. Quit Reading

Yes, I know, you’ve got all those shiny new books sitting on your shelf – giving you evil glares – and you want to read something. But, unfortunately, sometimes you just can’t force it. Take a break from reading completely. Maybe catch up on a show or rewatch a favorite. Play a video game. Listen to music or do some crafting. (If you’re feeling really energetic, you could always exercise or do chores, though, blech, who wants to do that?) The point is, do something, anything, besides reading and try to quit feeling guilty that you aren’t reading.

Hope this will be helpful because I’m pretty sure I’ve tried all of these during my last slump. (And I think it was the third one that got me out of it.)

Do you have any tips for those suffering from a reading slump?

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Why Most of my Reviews are 4-5 Stars

I got thinking about this recently and, you know, it’s so funny because I say that I don’t trust people that always like something or always hate something. I mean, I’ve seen review blogs where they never have a good thing to say and other’s that constantly give out five stars and I get where I don’t really believe/trust either of them. So, I felt like it was time to clear up a few things.

DNF Books

Any more, I’m not at all afraid of DNFing a book if I’m sure it won’t get over two stars. Sometimes I keep reading the book, just to see how it turns out, but, more often, I’m also willing to move on a read something I’ll enjoy more.

By that same token: I do rate books low, but they usually don’t get reviews here on my blog. You see, if I read a bad book, one that I just dislike, chances are that I’ll post my ranting over at Goodreads instead of dropping a review here.

Spread the Love

As strange as it would sound – and just might – even though I come off cynical, I’m actually a very happy person by nature. Sure, I like complaining, but the fact is that I’d much rather use my reviews as a way to recommend a really great book than as a way to warn people off a book.

As much as non-critical reviews are difficult for me to write, I don’t believe even a five star book has to be flawless. To me, all five stars mean is that it was a perfect book for the reader. I have rated books five stars that I think have flaws, but I enjoyed them enough to say the book was perfect for me at the time.

Emotional Rating

To me, when I rate a book, it’s based solely on my emotions when I finish the book. I don’t think in depth about what I liked, what I disliked and what was just meh. I’m going with my gut, how much I just simply enjoyed reading it. (I almost said ‘how much fun I had reading it’ but I’ve enjoyed and rated high some books that I wouldn’t call ‘fun’.)

Does that mean that I’ve wanted to change my rating after awhile – raising it or, more often, lowering it? You bet. Does that mean that sometimes I write a review for a book before my opinion changes and then I’m looking at it and wishing I’d reviewed it differently – or not at all? Yup.

Finally, the most important reason my reviews skew higher.

After many years of reading, I’ve finally gotten better at picking out books I’ll like. That doesn’t mean I never get duds (see the section on DNFing) but it does mean that I know more which books I’ll have a better chance of liking.

How do your reviews tend? Do you have more 4-5 stars or 1-2 stars? (Or maybe you write a lot of – my dreaded – 3 star reviews?) Do you post reviews to different places and post your more positive ones at one website and your less positive ones somewhere else?

Content Advisory: What It Is & Why I Have It On My Reviews

I meant to get this post up a little sooner but better late than never, as they say. I wanted to talk about a feature of my blog that I’m very happy with and tell you what it means and why I’ve chosen to do this.

Content Advisory

This is a feature I’ve been thinking about for a long time, ever since the brief talk a few years ago about rating books like they do movies. First of all, I thought then that it was a bad idea to have books that were ‘rated PG-13 for violence’ and I still do. (Because I’m just against enforcing something like that.)

However, I do like the idea of a sort of ‘content’ list – which is where my Content Advisory at the bottom of each of my reviews comes from. You see, there’s plenty of times I’ve looked at a book and wondered: How gory is it? Are there explicit sex scenes? What about trigger warnings?

These are things I’d like to know before deciding to buy/read a book. Sometimes reviews talk about the content, but other times I’ve read a book that has something I’d consider iffy and I’ve never found a review that talks about it.

Now, as of writing this post, I have found a couple of websites (links at the bottom) that are all about doing this (and were definitely less helpful than I expected). For me, it’s nice to know what I’m getting in to – at least to a degree – with a book.

I admit, what I would love, is if books had little notes on their back cover – or, perhaps, on the inside of the cover – on things that might be worrisome. Say, for example, a book has graphic violence, or explicit sex. That would be noted, but there wouldn’t be a ‘recommended for ages 15+’ on it. We’d get the benefit of knowing if something would be bothersome, without any added policing about the ages.

 

What do you think of content advisories? Would you like to see books get them, or do you prefer not knowing that sort of stuff before hand? Or would you rather rely on reviews? I’d love to know what you think!

Links: (as promised)
Compass Book Ratings
Rated Reads