Tips and tricks for overcoming a reading slump

It’s no secret that I love books and that reading and exploring new stories is a major part of who I am as a person. Consequently, when I encounter a particularly brutal reading slump, it’s like a part of me is missing. It’s hard not to take it personally, when so much of my life revolves around spreading the joy of reading and introducing new people to books that might change their life or perhaps even make their day that much better.

For whatever reason, the past few months I haven’t been able to enjoy much reading at all. Nothing seems to call out to me, and when I do manage to pick up a book, there is a pattern to them — they’re nonfiction books that a) cover important topics, but are also b) incredibly depressing. Occasionally I have picked up a fiction book only to quit in frustration after only a few pages. I can’t seem to shake this literary black cloud that’s been hovering over my head.

Fortunately, because I work in a library, I not only have access to thousands of books, but I also work with some of the brightest and cleverest individuals around. In complete frustration, I finally reached out to fellow Book Squad member Meredith and asked for help. If you’ve ever had the privilege of encountering her in person, you know how great she is at recommending books.

Thanks to her, I found my new favorite book: "Ravishing the Heiress" by Sherry Thomas. As you can infer from the title, this is a romance novel. I never read romance. However, this book has all of the elements I typically look for in my favorite reads: complicated relationships, an intriguing plot, morally questionable characters, and a strong emotional component. This book has it all, and then some.

This entire experience got me thinking, though. How many others struggle with reading slumps? What can we do to get ourselves out of this hot mess of a situation? Fortunately for you, I’ve thought about this long and hard, and I’ve come up with three different ways of combating a reading ennui.

1: Don’t give yourself a hard time for “not reading enough” or for not reading, period.

This is supposed to be a fun and enjoyable experience. It it’s starting to feel like work, or if you’re just too busy right now, it’s okay. Put aside your yearly reading challenges and politely ignore that person you know who brags about how many books they read in a week. Give yourself some time to get back to reading. You’ll get there eventually.

2: Try something you would never normally read.

I’m talking the “I’m personally embarrassed to be reading this on public transport” kind of book. If you exclusively read literary fiction, now is the time to read some James Patterson. If you read pop science, pick up a bodice ripper. Are you a fan of Murakami? Maybe you’re also a secret fan of Stephenie Meyer.

3: Ask someone you know and trust to give you a recommendation and, without looking at the synopsis or researching it online, just read the book.

This might seem a little strange, but trust me on this one. This has been my most recent experiment in regards to reading, and it has been a major success. Since I don’t actually know what the book is about, it takes me several chapters to figure out what’s truly going on, and by that point, I’m invested enough to keep reading. It’s a sneaky way of tricking yourself to read more.

When all else fails, the Book Squad has your back. If you’re struggling to find a good book, you can always talk to someone in person at the library. Or, we have this handy dandy Personalized Reading Recommendation service available on our website. Just fill out the form, and one of the Book Squad members will get back to you as soon as possible with books we think you’ll love. It takes the guesswork out of finding something to read, and when you’re struggling to find something good, that can really help.

Now, after all of that, you’ll have to excuse me. I have to read the sequel to my new favorite book — "Tempting the Bride." Did you know Sherry Thomas also wrote the Sherlock Holmes retelling, "A Study in Scarlet Women"? She was born in China, learned English as a second language, and now writes all the types of books she herself enjoys reading (romance, fantasy, mystery, etc.). I have to say, I’m wildly impressed, and I think I may have found a new favorite author.

— Kimberly Lopez is a readers’ services assistant at the Lawrence Public Library.

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