A Problem I’ve Not Had

Actually there are probably a number of them. But the one I have in mind here is reading slumps. It occurred to me to write about this because I came across an article recently in Bookriot titled “5 Tips For Getting Out of a Reading Slump.” It has some good suggestions including reading an old favorite, finding a new book by a favorite author, going to the library, which allows you to try out a book and set it aside if you don’t like it, planning out a reading day filled with all your favorite things, including, hopefully a book or two, and going digital if you have not. This is probably great advice–I can’t really say because I’ve never been there.

It’s probably something in the way I’m wired but I can’t imagine being in a reading slump. I don’t say that boastfully because I don’t think there is anything special about being a bibliophile–weird maybe, but not special! My hunch is that slumps might connect to those emotional undulations many of us go through, or they might simply relate to a season of life where it is hard to find the time and energy to sit down with a book. It would seem to me that there is no great guilt attached to this. I’d say, read as you can, not as you can’t. But take this with a grain of salt–I’ve never had to get out of a reading slump, so what do I really know?

The closest I’ve gotten are periods where I’m either mentally distracted or simply physically tired and the words don’t register. Then, it is probably better for me to pray, do some yard work, take a nap, or get a good night’s sleep. Most of the time, that does it for me, and if it doesn’t, the real issue is usually somewhere else in my life, and inattentiveness in reading is just a symptom. Sometimes, I’m just doing enough “brain work” in other areas that I don’t need to do this in my reading. Then its time for something more light-hearted–a good mystery, a Teddy Roosevelt biography, or even a children’s story.

A more interesting question for me is, what keeps me hungry for the next book? A few things come to mind:

  • The consciousness that there are “so many books and so little time.” There are so many things I’d like to read, whether it is in fiction, theology, history, or science that it always seems incredibly easy to find the next book.
  • I move in physical and virtual communities where people often are talking about books. Whether it is someone else’s Goodreads reviews, a book mentioned in a meeting by a colleague, or a New York Times review, I keep hearing about interesting books. I guess hanging out in bookish circles sustains a bookish habit.
  • In my work, I often encounter interesting issues or intellectual challenges that pique my interest. Often these have to do with real people asking sincere questions or facing life issues. Sometimes, just listening is enough but sometimes consulting with better minds than mine is helpful!
  • Prowling bookstores and libraries restocks my mental list of interesting books. I may not have time right now for that book, but the next time I see it, particularly if I find it at a bargain (which is often the case if I wait), I may be ready to read it.
  • Talking or writing about the books you read and interacting with others makes reading more fun and less solitary. For some, a reading group is a great way to get around to reading the books one wants to read, if others want to read them as well. Or you may discover books and authors you never knew you’d like.

I suspect some of these things may be helpful for the slumping reader, or simply the reader who wants to find more time to read. But as I said, I may not be the best to ask as this is a problem I’ve not had.

Have you ever struggled with reading slumps? What has been helpful to you?

 

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