Saturday, October 4, 2014

Deux Lectrices Talks: Reading Slumps

I'm always proud of this blog for the fact that we're always open to trying new things and new types of posts.  It may not work out sometimes, yeah, but we're always open to finding new ways to talk about books.

It's the worst thing in the world to an avid reader when they hit a reading slump, isn't it?  In 2012 and 2013, I read over 200 books and couldn't even dream of slowing down.  It felt like the second I read one book I was automatically starting the next, there were no pauses in between.  Not reading 100 books a year was laughable to me.

Suddenly, as fired up about reading as much as I could as I was, I found myself struggling to pick up the next book.  Then I found myself forcing myself to finish the current book, no matter how much I liked it.  On occasion, I could fly through a book and love it and talk to Kan about how I was suddenly excited about reading again... only to once again struggle to pick anything up.

I can't name why I suddenly just stopped feeling good about reading.  I know the feeling began when grandpa was dying, but after he passed I had small bursts of being able to read 20 books a month.  And don't get me wrong, I'm still really excited about starting books and new releases.  I'm constantly adding more books to my to-read list and checking out dates and putting them on my wishlist, but there's something <i>missing</i> from all that excitement.

I wound up thinking about things to myself one night and I think I figured out why I was in such a slump.  I read quite a bit maybe not as much as some people but enough, and that 'enough' includes books I'm really, really excited to read.  Lately, since I wanted to make sure I was reading 100 new books a year (a lot of which included books I wasn't sure I would enjoy, which contributed to my reading slump) I would basically dangle books I wanted to read in front of goals.  If I read five new books that I may or may not like, <i>maaaaaaaaaaaybe</i> I could read this one book I was super excited about.

That was probably the worst thing I could do for myself in my reading slump because then I was struggling to finish that set amount of books and to get to the one I wanted to read.  I was turning reading into a chore for myself, with the books I wanted to read as "vacations" from that chore.  And then, I wouldn't want to finish the books I wanted to read (no matter how much I was loving them) because that would mean going back to the books I wasn't sure about reading.  Earlier this year after reading a bunch of books I didn't really like, I read Pratchett's <i>The Carpet People</i>, which I loved and wanted to review, but when I was nearly finished with it and it hit me:  I wouldn't be able to read anything like it until I finished these books I might not even like, so I dragged my feet finishing it.

Another thing I found that contributed to my reading slump was my reading challenge on Goodreads:  I set it to 100 books because one of my New Years Resolutions was to read 100 new books a year.  I have nobody to blame but myself for that, and I knew (at the time) I could easily do it, but every time I came back to GR to update my progress on a book, I would see "-- of 100 books" and then feel like I needed to hurry up.  I relentlessly compared myself to 2013 reader-me and found myself sorely lacking:  If I read 118 books by this time last year, why was I only at 95 now?

There's no one to blame but me for getting myself so down and pressuring myself to be better and better.  I feel a little guilty saying that the book blog partially made me reexamine my reading habits because I felt like you had to read all the time and all new things -- I couldn't go back and enjoy something again because I needed that time to read something new and review it.  I thought that if you wanted to be a "good" book blogger you had to eat, breathe, and sleep NEW books.  But stopping to wonder about my thoughts on that, I realized that there was no set way to be a "good" book blogger just as long as you talked about books, and that some book bloggers don't read 100 books a year and their reviews are just as good as the people who read more than 100.  That perked me up a bit, but then I remembered that I still had my Goodreads goal, and that while I was on book 90 of 100 I hadn't completed it, and as long as it wasn't done I couldn't read in the way I wanted to.

Suddenly I was sad again, even though I loved the book I was reading!  And I realize that I could've just lowered the goal to 95 and been done, but I actually wanted to at least hit 100 this year and I was already so close so I didn't want to change it, even though the books that came after 95 would count towards the (personal) goal of 100.  Once again, I found myself putting off the book.

I can't say that my reading slump has been an entirely terrible thing though.  While I haven't read as much as I wanted, I have been watching Netflix and Hulu, which I haven't done in a long time.  We only got them last year and I had never actually sat down and watched a complete show, and honestly I feel like it's a good thing to consume more than one type of media so I don't feel too guilty about not reading.  I also sat down and played some video games, which, again, I haven't done in a long time, in fact one of the games I recently replayed I hadn't played in six years.

Watching tv has been nicer for me in some respects because I'm sick, and some days I can barely sit up and keep my eyes open, so reading is impossible (I know there are audiobooks for this type of occasion, but those tend to be very expensive).  When I first started getting sick and I was reading so much, I would get depressed over not being able to read that day and I would wish there was some kind of device I could plug into my head to let me experience a book while I sleep.  XD  While there isn't a device to do that, it's nice to be able to lie in bed and rest and follow a show or just listen to the audio, so it's let me stop feeling so guilty about not reading.

There are a few tumblr posts (laurenreadsya, bookprince, and booksandhotchocolate [many many thank yous to Kan for finding those links for me!]) that also deal with reading slumps, things to do during them and how to deal with them.  It's mentioned on there that sometimes you just need to work through it or wait it out, and that's beginning to be my approach to this slump.  I need to stop taking it as a bad thing because, while I'm not reading a lot anymore, I'm still reading and I'm consuming new ideas, just in another format.  And I know it won't be like this forever, maybe next year I'll be so enthusiastic about reading that I'll read 200 books!  But I can't do it right now, and that's not a bad thing.

Now I'd like to turn the discussion over.  Do you guys see a reading slump as a terrible thing?  If you do, why?  When you get into one, what do you do?  Do you also wait it out, or do you try to power through it?  I'd honestly love to hear about other's reading slumps.


  1. I don't think a reading slump is a bad thing, just means that we need to change our main outlet for a bit and regenerate, Hugs!
    Missie @ A Flurry of Ponderings

    1. Thank you for the reply! I'm beginning to feel the same way, but I'm still a bit disappointed in myself.