The Reader’s Doom: On Reading Slumps and How to Battle Them

A younger man reading on a bus on a sunny day.

A 2016 study — “A Chapter a Day – Association of Book Reading with Longevity” — by the National Library of Medicine, concluded that book readers live longer by at least four months than their non-reading peers. The study also recorded a reduced risk of mortality of 20% in book readers over the next 12 years of follow-up. 

Reading has always worn the crown for being one of the more beneficial hobbies out there. Yet Americans are reading less every day, with people spending less than 14 minutes reading every day, a sharp drop from the average 20+ minutes during the pandemic. It is understandable, too, considering the endlessly busy lives people lead. Even those who once read a book a day struggle to even go through a novel a year.

Known as the reading slump, such phases where reading becomes an impossible chore for even regular readers can spell doom for the bookworm. What exactly is a reading slump? Better yet, how does one surmount the seemingly insurmountable?

What Is a Reading Slump?

A reading or book slump is a period of utter disinterest in books that some readers often battle. Even if one wants to read and crave the feeling of devouring a good book, a reading slump can keep one from actually doing it. The problem worsens when readers realize this can be a prolonged experience, and no amount of despair or desperation may help one get out of it.

Even books by one’s favorite authors and beloved genres may not help during such situations. Reading loses its shine somehow, and it gets hard to focus on the best, most interesting books. In such situations, one may turn to other media mediums, like movies and video games, even if all one wants is to enjoy reading again. Like the drunk porter in Macbeth, one has the desire but not the ability.

There can be many reasons behind a book slump. One may burn oneself out reading multiple texts at the same time. Or one may have picked up a particularly hefty read, like the Ulysses. Reading books someone doesn’t find exciting or books of the same genre or type may also push one over the edge. Stress can be another big reason behind such a slump.

How to Battle Reading Slumps

Whatever the reason behind falling into a slump, what any victim of the phase wants is to find joy in reading again. While there is no silver bullet solution to the problem, there are some things one can do that may help. These include:

Picking up Swift Reads

Shorter reads can often help one get into the flow again. Instead of engaging with heavier reads, picking up novellas, short story collections, or even smutty reads is a good idea. This change can make reading less overwhelming and help keep the momentum going.

Poem collections or comics are also excellent choices for such periods of slump. The negative space around poems can engage one's mind and push one to read multiple pieces in one go with relative ease. Novels written in verse are a fantastic alternative to vast novels full of blocks of text.

Switching Genres

Sometimes, even books of one’s favorite genre lose their luster. It is quite understandable, too, since reading about the same tropes and trends can get fairly dull and predictable after a while. This can often make picking up or sticking to a book rather difficult.

If someone was reading back-to-back young adult fantasies before falling into a slump, they could try switching to a different genre that they were perhaps always intrigued by but never tasted. The change in rhythm, styles, and structures of a new genre can hit wholly different and bring the breath of fresh air that one needs to enjoy reading again.

Trying Audiobooks

Audiobooks could be the struggling reader’s savior if focusing on reading becomes an issue. Audiobooks are often easier to concentrate on. They are also not that different from reading, making it easier to return to actual books once one has breezed through an audiobook or two. Another great idea is to read while one listens to the audiobook version to help engage the senses and focus better.

Revisiting Old and Childhood Favorites

There is something about an old favorite that keeps one coming back. The sense of familiarity or just knowing what happens next is helpful. Whatever the reason, something as simple as rereading Pride and Prejudice or Famous Five or whichever novel or series entranced someone as a child or as an adult could remind them why they fell in love with reading in the first place.

This article was produced by Media Decision and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.

Author: Ananyaa Bhowmik


Ananyaa Bhowmik is a neurodivergent and queer pop-culture journalist with the Wealth of Geeks. She has previously worked with brands like Sterling Holidays, Myntra, Bajaj, and the Loud Interactive. She is an independent scholar, cat parent, and performance poet. Her areas of research and interest focus on and around digital marketing, Canadian indigenous history, queerness in media, and pop-culture and fandom studies.