I haven’t done one of these since March (MARCH) but this month my reading feels like my own again. Reading slumps have hit me in waves and, for a long time, I couldn’t find my way out of them. Like insomnia it seemed random. Now I have a few tricks up my sleeve and I am taking control of my reading journey again. Welcome back books, I have missed you!
As I look back on this site I notice too that I really talk a lot about successes and not about being in the slump. I need to accept the journey sometimes and not try to hide all the things that are not working. I just need to remember, no one is judging me!
MY AUGUST BOOKS
I credit The Power of Ritual, by Casper Her Kuile with lifting me out of the slump and Dewey’s Reverse 24-Hour Readathon with cementing the reading ritual again. These two things came together serendipitously! In The Power of Ritual Casper talks about how to form everyday, seasonal, and annual rituals in your life. The book, while clearly written pre-pandemic, gave me some great ideas about how to rearrange my schedule to make time for reading and exercise and, eventually, writing on here again. It coincided beautifully with Deweys Readathon which I always enjoy and I stayed up late reading and snacking happily transported away.
Somewhere in the beginning of August, I realized something about myself. I was have a really hard time sinking into any books. I was like a fidgety toddler at story time not wanting to listen. I was having a hard time really letting myself relax. It was easier to watch TV while I pinned things or played on my phone but that is fake relaxation. I had to take a dose of my own how-to-read medicine and just make myself read something, anything, in a sustained way. It was like the first time back on a piece of exercise equipment but it worked!
Now that my attention isn’t constantly fractured my books are a sanctuary again. Thank goodness!
I used Fifty Inventions the Shaped Modern the Economy by Tim Hardford to train my brain some more. One invention at a time with no interruptions. Lemme tell you – the reels on Instagram were calling me! But I kept going. This book is awesome and my full review is here.
The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness I picked up and read in bigger chunks for Dewey’s Readathon and I have already started the second in the series, The Ask and the Answer. Reading in bigger chunks felt like the difference between week 2 and 3 of couch to 5K – holy moly that was hard! The urge to get up and do something was ridiculous but I knew I needed to practice. And, through practice, it came back to me.
I have a lot of Middle Grade on my shelf and, if you are ever having a slump, I highly recommend them. I love that they are paced quickly, wonderfully written, and draw you in. The Warren the 13th trilogy was wonderful, Cinder and Sparrows was quirky in a good way, Dark Waters gave me great chills, and Wundersmith is one of the best second-in-a-series books I have read yet!
The only one that I didn’t love was Hamnet. Wait! Don’t be mad! Hamnet is gorgeously written and gave me a peek into the like of the Bard that I didn’t expect. But there is something in the story-line that made me so so sad. It says right on the front “A story of the Plague” – what did I think was going to happen?? When I am sad, I need my books to help lift me up. This is why I don’t write bad reviews. It certainly isn’t a reflection of the book that I didn’t enjoy it but I just couldn’t go there with the characters right now.
Learning to let myself relax into a story and live with the characters for a while took some practice but when it came back I could feel it. The world around me became blurry and quiet and all I could hear were my character’s voices. Instead of being stuck I went everywhere through my books this month. And I cannot wait to see where I will go in September!
Tell me, please! What are you favorite tips for breaking a reading slump?