9 Creative Ways To Break a Reading Slump

It can happen any time, for any reason, and it can feel impossible to defeat: the dreaded reading slump. It might be that you haven’t gotten over a book hangover. Perhaps you just can’t find anything that catches your interest. Or maybe you are simply feeling burned out. Everyone needs to reconnect with books at some point. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to inject fresh energy into your reading practice. These nine creative and fun ideas will help you bust your reader’s block and fall in love with books again, whether on the digital shelves of your e-reader or among the overflowing piles of paperbacks in your home.

1. Set a focus word for your reading year

You’re already a fan of words, and one way to reconnect with reading is to have a focus word for your bookish goals. Having a guiding word helps align your reading priorities and can underscore your big picture life goals. If you’re focused on brave, try out new genres and push yourself to tackle those daunting classics you’ve wanted to read for years. Focus on diversity if you are interested in exploring other cultures and perspectives. What word sums up what you want for your reading life and beyond?

2. Send future you messages in a long book

Sometimes an epic read is just what you need to remember how it feels to be totally lost in a book. On the other hand, longer works can feel really intimidating. Send yourself some future motivation by asking a friend to add notes in the margins that you will discover as you read. Each note will be a surprise, and the anticipation will pull you through the pages of the book.

3. Change up the scenery by rearranging your bookshelves

Every reader has a formula for how books accumulate like kudzu in their homes; I think mine is three books bought for every book I actually read. Rediscover the countless unread treasures already in your home library by changing up your organizational approach. Pull your books off the shelves, mix them all around, and put them back together again. Titles that previously felt old and stale might now appear new and readable.

4. Switch up your TBR by drawing numbers to find your next read

Sometimes you need to introduce a little chance to help you find your next read when you’re paralyzed by indecision. Check out your current to-be-read list, either in your bookshelves or on your digital to-read shelf. After you’ve counted the books, write down each number on a slip of paper. Draw a number out of a hat or use an online random number generator and let fortune decide what you should read next.

5. Invert your shelves to break through title fatigue

If you’ve already decided you aren’t interested in any of the books on your shelves, try switching things up by inverting your bookshelves so the book spines face inside and the pages face toward you. Without the ability to judge a book by its spine, each book you choose gifts you with some fresh whimsy.

6. Watch a TV or film adaptation of your favorite book

Sometimes the movie really is better than the book, or at least better at making you remember how it feels to become swept away by some great storytelling. You could—gasp—watch a movie or show based on a book you haven’t read yet, or watch the film or TV adaptation of your favorite novel. Every time I hear the piano music theme in the Keira Knightley adaptation of Pride & Prejudice, my bookish heart starts beating again.

7. Go off the grid

It can be challenging to be fully present to the book you’re reading with endless distractions online and off. Going off the grid in the name of books can help you really focus on reading. Switch your phone to silent, switch on airplane mode, or turn it off and lock it in the other room. Get lost in the page in front of you and radically reconnect with reading.

8. Take a reading vacation

You, your book nook, and total silence: sounds like every reader’s dream. Try carving some reading time into your life for a personal reading vacation. You don’t have to travel anywhere exotic to have a bookish holiday; a reading staycation works just as well.

9. Read books about books

If you’ve fallen out of love with reading, or are trying to get over a nasty slump, a great tactic to revive your passion for pages is soaking up stories about books. I owe breaking through a yearlong reading rut to Anne Fadiman’s Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader, a memoir of growing up in a bookish family and falling madly in love with literature. When you’re trying to overcome a slump or blah stretch, seeing yourself in a story about other readers singing praises in the key of a book can breathe fresh life into your reading practice and get you itching to read again.


Sarah S. Davis

Sarah S. Davis is a writer, editor, and librarian whose work has appeared on Book Riot, Kirkus Reviews, and Psych Central, among others. Sarah holds a BA in English from the University of Pennsylvania and a Master’s of Library Science. She blogs at Broke by Books and More Than a Pinch.