When a Reading Slump Isn’t Just a Reading Slump

When a reading SlumpAugust was not a great reading month for me. About half way through, I got stuck in a reading slump that I’m still not sure I’m entirely out of. While I technically read ten “books” according to my Goodreads account, only three of those were actual book-books.

I’m pretty tired of this happening (it’s been happening a lot for the last couple of years), but my reading slumps aren’t something I can easily fix thanks to them coming about in one of two ways:

  1. Depression Downswing ~ I always am dealing with low-grade depression, but sometimes, my mood can take a turn for the worse. This shifts can last anywhere from one week to a month. During those times, blogging is pretty much impossible and reading is nearly as difficult because I just can’t work up the energy to care about characters, stories, or books in general.
  2. Anxiety Attacks ~ Same as with my depression, my anxiety goes in cycles. When I’m having a period of lot of attacks, I can’t focus on reading and I panic about committing to any book I haven’t started yet. (It’s not fun having a panic attack every time you look at your pile of library books.)

Since my reading slumps are induced by mental illness, it’s not like I can work my way out of them. I have to wait for the slump to pass, along with the anxiety/depression. These periods aren’t fun though because I love reading, and when I can read, I feel much better mentally.

I’ve found some ways to cope, however, during the slumps.

First, I’ve started reading book series again. For years, I stuck mostly with stand-alones because I had trouble finishing series. Last year and this year, I’ve been seeking out series because I know they can help when I’m feeling bad. I’ve found that, if I’ve already started a series, I am usually able to pick up the next book during a slump. This basically takes away the “What the frak do I read next?!?!?” component to my attacks. This Spring, I binge-read the Grisha Trilogy and the two books in the Winner’s Trilogy when I was having a particularly bad anxiety episode.

Second, I binge read comics and graphic novels. This is how I got through the first eight volumes of Morning Glories and why seven out of the ten books I read in August were DC and Marvel graphic novels. The visual element of comics makes it easier for me to focus since I don’t often have the energy to be very imaginative when I’m stressing out or feeling very low. They are also quick reads—which helps combat the commitment-phobic aspect of my book-related anxiety.

Third, I read Georgette Heyer novels. Technically, most Romance/Chick Lit works, but Georgette Heyer is my go-to author when I’m not doing great. Her books are quick reads with lots of humor and a familiar setting (at least for this Austen addict). Since I know I like her writing, it’s easier for me to choose one of her novels as my next read—at least, easier than it would be for me to choose a book by a new-to-me author. I pick up her books now whenever I see them on clearance at a bookstore or at a library sale because I know it’s good for me to have ones I haven’t read on hand for when my next downswing occurs.

So far, these are the three main ways I’ve found to combat my mental illness-induced reading slumps. I wish I had a surefire cure, but I’m doing the best I can to keep myself from not reading at all for now.

Are there any ways you deal with reading slumps? Or any books/authors you turn to when you’re not feeling great?

Image Source: Movie Screencaps

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6 thoughts on “When a Reading Slump Isn’t Just a Reading Slump

  1. Bless you, hope you’re out of the reading slump soon. I’ve been in one the last month or so and it’s been the longest slump I’ve had to deal with for a long time 😦

    I managed to attack it by reading books I wouldn’t normally read and stuck to shorter books so novellas, and short stories and many of them were of genres I would never normally read. I think I’m just out the reading wobble but I like the idea of reading series to eliminate the ‘what do I read now panic!’ Great post!! 😀 xx

    1. I’ve never tried reading short stories, but that’s a good idea! I have a couple of collections sitting around. I should move them to the top of my bookshelf to try next time I’m in a slump.

  2. My reading slump is caused by a 14-month old. 😉 When he was really small, I would read while nursing him and I read quite a bit. Now I don’t get much of a chance to read because he won’t let me and when I do have a break, I’d rather do other things. I have a few books on my Kindle that I’ve been meaning to read – I just haven’t started them.

  3. I totally relate to this! When I’m in a reading slump I usually turn to something that I know is going to be a fast and easy read. I tend to not go to stuff I’ve already read. For instance, I got out of this last reading slump by reading a collection of short horror stories. I knew I would enjoy it because I dig horror, and the nature of the book would offer lots of natural stopping points. I find if I go back to an old fave in a reading slump that’s fueled by depression or anxiety, I just tell myself I know the story and then stop.

    1. That happens to me with books I’ve read before too. Sometimes when I’m not doing well I can read A Wrinkle in Time (which I’ve read a bunch of times before), but that’s weirdly the ONLY book I can reread during a reading slump. I have no idea why!

  4. Excellent post! Thank you for sharing how you work through a reading slump. It’s really great to see that there are others out there who struggle the same way I do – makes one feel a little less alone. And like you said, it’s interesting to see how each person approaches these slumps and getting out of them.

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