Reading slump

Reading drought

Book hangover leading to general reading discontent

What do you do when you run out of things to read? When nothing tempts or excites you? When you find yourself reaching for your book of the moment only to realise you haven’t got one?

I must confess I have many little reading rituals, one of which is that when I’ve read the latest book in a favourite series, I always follow by starting the series at the beginning again and reading them all the way through.

If I like a book there is no limit to the amount of times I will read it – some books I get antsy if I haven’t read in a couple of months, others I will have on a six monthly/yearly rotation.

None of this helps, however, with the problem in hand – the book slump, the dreaded despair of having nothing to read when you wake up, when you go to sleep, when on the bus, when eating lunch (you get the picture). I am one of those people who reads the labels on packets and bottles if all else fails (yes, I sink that low).

So how does one recover?

Well, there is no miracle cure, I’m afraid.

When you are surrounded by books, you might think it mad to say you have nothing to read, but choice is so often our downfall and this is true of reading as well. Yes, I have an unread pile on my desk, yes, I have a list a mile long of books I would like to read one day. I spend hours reading through lists on Goodreads, I look at Amazon reviews, I read book blogs, I receive publisher newsletters, I have signed up to (probably) every possible book-related newsletter on the planet and yet, still I cry (internally) ‘I have nothing to read’!

Here are my top tips for shaking off the book blues and finding your next reading obsession:

  • Change Your Genre

Quite often I will read series after series in the same genre and realise three weeks later that I am waking, sleeping and dreaming in whichever universe I have submerged myself in. The only cure for a book slump whilst in this mode, that I know of, is to switch up my universes! I swap out my Fairies and Wolves for modern day America or Regency London.

  • Re-Read your favourite

It doesn’t matter if you only read it last month, if you’re really stuck then pick it up and remind yourself why you love reading so much!

  • Scour all available resources for recommendations

I know this seems like preaching to the converted but it might help…

  • Read a sample 

Read a chapter, read a random page (you devil), read the back or just borrow a book on a whim without even reading the blurb, just because you like the cover or the title or because someone else just returned it and you wonder whether it’s good.

  • Choose from a list

You could check out one of those top 100 booklists  that everyone claims to have read or 10 Swedish Crime novels or perhaps a big prize shortlist like The Booker or Carnegie Prize.

At this point I could provide a long list of my favourite series but I thought I would instead provide a few suggestions for climbing back on the wagon:

Magician – Raymond Feist: Because sometimes you have to go back to the beginning and remember why you first fell in love with reading. It might not be the most gritty or real fantasy on the market but it has everything you need to lose yourself in a different world and forget the non important things, like eating and sleeping…

Watchmen – Alan Moore: Graphic Novels are not really my go-to choice as I like words and the pictures get in the way (although I will make an exception for Manga) but Watchmen is a world apart. I find it so absorbing, I forget to be annoyed by the pictures. I realise that I am missing out on a whole world of amazingness, don’t get me wrong – I love the artwork, especially Neil Gaiman’s Sandman series but it is not often I will veer towards a Graphic Novel…

The Collected Poems of Dylan Thomas: I will shortly be off to the land of dragons and what better way to prepare than to dip back into some of the greatest poetry ever written? Poetry is a great way of falling back in love with the written word and you don’t have to read a whole chapter, just a poem, and that poem (or just a line) will reverberate around in your head and beckon you to back to the land of reading.

Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte: I thought a lot about which classic I would reach for in desperation and I discarded:

Wuthering Heights – too fraught

Pride and Prejudice – house envy

Dracula – Makes me angry (I’m Team Drac)

I realise this is not an exhaustive list but Jane Eyre stuck in my mind as the one to go with so if you haven’t read it then you should and if you have read it then read it again!

Espedair Street: Iain Banks always one of my favourite authors, I think this is my favourite of his novels (although I do love Whit).

The Name of the Wind – Patrick Rothfuss:This books restores one’s faith in the genre. Enough said.

Guilty Pleasures – Laurell K Hamilton: Using my son’s favourite phrase – ‘Don’t judge me!’

A nostalgic read for me, I’d never encountered anything like this until I raided my older sister’s book stash…

Lost Souls – Poppy Z Brite: Not for everyone I know, but I really enjoyed this when I was younger so I look upon it with fondness and would use as a reading life raft.


The end.

Now go and read something (let me know what in the comments)