Have you ever had one of those months when absolutely nothing sounds interesting to read? Books that you would normally jump at and give a little “squeee!”* of excitement simply hold zero appeal? If you don’t know this feeling, count yourself as lucky for the dreaded book slump is real and it’s a soul killer.
You may think that, as a librarian, I would never experience this feeling. Librarians must always have something to read, right? They’re surrounded by awesome reading material every day! But, no. We, too, have been struck down by the “slump.”
I’ve had a number of book slumps in my life, but one of my worst was last fall. I was in the midst of my last year of graduate school and feeling frazzled. I didn’t have much recreational reading time, so what little I had felt precious. I didn’t want to waste it with a book that felt mediocre. If a title didn’t make me want to lift it above my head with joy and reenact the opening scene from The Lion King, I wasn’t interested.
The problem was that no book was fitting that high standard. I was in indecision land and feeling listless without a trusty book by my side. You may have already guessed the end of this story, but I was eventually able to overcome the “slump” and rediscover my love of reading. How, you may ask? Well, we’ve finally gotten to the crux of this post – my top three tips to defeating a book slump.
1. Diversify your reading
This is a very broad tip and it will mean different things to different people. The root of the recommendation is to try something different. If you normally read literary fiction, try a mystery with a great hook. If you only read print, try an audiobook or e-book. If you only read on the couch in the evenings, crack a book on your lunch break in a local café. In essence, explore other ways to enjoy reading.
Side tip: The library has wonderful resources to help you diversify your reading. For example, ask Information & Reference for information on hoopla, a free digital resource, which offers downloadable books in multiple formats.
2. Join a reading community
These days, there is an abundance of reading community options. From face-to-face to online, reading communities run the gamut. The American Library Association recently launched Book Club Central, an online resource that has great suggestions about how to get involved in the book club world. If face-to-face book discussions aren’t your thing, online book clubs give you the freedom to socialize and talk about a variety of books, all while wearing your PJs and drinking a glass of your favorite evening beverage. These groups meet on many different platforms, from Facebook Live to Twitter. Tweet, sip, repeat.
Side tip: If you’re looking for local clubs, try one of these monthly book discussion groups:
Adventures in History – Second Tuesday, 6:30 p.m. at the Chippewa Valley Museum
Friends of the Library – Fourth Tuesday, 7:00 p.m. in the library’s Chippewa Room
Mystery Reads – Third Tuesday, 10:30 a.m. in the library’s Chippewa Room
3. Ask for recommendations
Don’t be embarrassed about asking for suggestions. I know I like to be independent about my reading, but this tip is what helped me defeat the Great Book Slump of 2016. A friend recommended a great book with a creative format and it reminded me why I enjoy reading. Ask your friends, family, and friendly neighborhood librarians for their recent favorites. Try asking them why they loved a book or why you should give it a try. People who are passionate about books can help renew your excitement about literature, which is what you’re ultimately trying to rediscover during the book slump drought.
Side tip: I love recommending books and am always happy to suggest titles to help you get over a book slump or simply revel in the joy of reading. Here are a few of my all-time and recent “Squeee Reads”:
Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
The Weight of Feathers by Anna-Marie McLemore
Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris
If you have other methods of getting over a book slump, feel free to share them in the comments below. Best of luck, readers!
*If you don’t squeee at books, you really don’t know what you’re missing.