The ongoing reading slump

I have this theory that book blogging both causes and cures my reading slumps.

This year started off as a good reading year for me – I rang in 2015 with Helen Macdonald’s H is for Hawk which I’m pretty sure will end up on my list of favourite books read this year. I picked up that book because of the numerous glowing reviews I read of it on book blogs; I’m really grateful to all of those bloggers that raved about it because, when I first heard about the book, I thought it was one that wouldn’t interest me (how wrong was I!) and was quite happy for it to pass me by. Since reading that book, it’s started this interest in nature and travel writing – basically, it’s made me start to read more nonfiction and has opened up this whole new avenue of reading for me.

And that’s all thanks to book blogs and the book blogging community.

Whenever I’m feeling uninspired by reading or am in a bit of a reading slump, I turn to a session of reading my favourite book blogs. I love reading about other people’s relationships with books, their thoughts on the books they’re reading, their opinions on reading, and I normally come away from reading book blogs energised and inspired again (plus a couple of books added to my to-read list).

But, there’s also a flip side to this.

Thanks to book blogs, I’m reading more books than ever that I love and discovering so many new-to-me-authors that write in a way I enjoy. Which is wonderful. But I’ve found that, when I read a book I don’t enjoy as much or don’t connect with, I feel it more keenly because I’m so used to reading books I enjoy. I think, perhaps, book blogging has made my expectations or my standards higher when it comes to books. Or maybe it’s that taking the time to really think about what I’m reading and why I do/don’t like certain things has made me more critical. Which I think is a good thing, but it can mean finding books I really enjoy can be tricky.

Even though this year started off brilliantly reading-wise, my overwhelming feeling when I consider my reading so far, is that it hasn’t been great. I have read books I’ve loved (H is for Hawk, The Secret History, Diving Belles, Peter and Alice) but mainly I’ve read a lot of books that I enjoyed but that didn’t quite hit the mark for me, a few books that I remember reading but the details are all but gone, and, crucially, books that haven’t made me sit down at my keyboard and write a review the minute I turn the final page because it’s so good I just want to convince you all to read it.

I’ve found recently that I keep fluctuating between getting really inspired by reading and adding numerous books to my to-read list, and then generally feeling uninspired by reading. I’m in this phase again now, and I really don’t like it.

To lift me from this reading slump, I recently reread one of my favourite books – Evie Wyld’s All the Birds, Singing. This worked for a short while, but then I found myself wanting to read a book that would affect me as much as that one did… On reflection, I think my reading slump is largely caused by my expectations of books or my desire to find books I love. I want each book to live up to the last favourite, and that just isn’t always possible. And it’s unfair to the authors and books I’m reading if I constantly compare them. I really need to stop doing this.

Does anyone have any tips for getting out of a reading slump that’s turning into quite a long one? Do you have any books to recommend? I’ve currently got Lucy Wood’s Weathering ready to read which, as I loved her short story collection so much, I’m hoping will lift my spirits. I also recently found out that Gerbrand Bakker has a new book published and, as I loved The Detour and The Twin, I’m hoping I’ll enjoy this one too.

Writing this post has made me realise that perhaps I need to, not lower my expectations of books and reading, but be okay with the fact that not every book is going to be amazing for me. It’s okay to read a book I don’t enjoy, or abandon one if I’m really not enjoying it.

*

Side note: I feel that I haven’t been as active in the book blogging community as I have been in the past and it’s kind of playing on my mind. I love book blogging and reading book blogs, but I think I’m just struggling to find a balance between fitting everything in that I need and want to do and finding the time to sit and write posts and read and comment on everyone else’s. Also, I suppose there’s a correlation between reading slumps and blogging slumps: if I’m not feeling inspired by reading, I’m not necessarily going to be inspired to blog.

I started a new job at the beginning of this year (which I love!) and I suppose I spent the first few months of the year trying to carve out a new blogging routine for myself. But now it’s the end of June, and this year already feels like it’s going so fast (seriously, where has this year gone so far?) I had all these ideas for my blog, and I just haven’t found the time or the inspiration to go through with them. Basically, what I’m trying to say is that I love book blogging and I’m trying to find a way to get into it again, because I really enjoy it and am missing it.

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11 thoughts on “The ongoing reading slump

  1. I can totally relate. I aim to blog once a week, but this is just not happening this year. I think the combination of a dissertation due in September and an extremely stressful job is depleting my blogging capacity! But like you, I really enjoy it & wish I did more of it. Unfortunately this means I don’t have any tips for you on how to change things, but if you find a way let me know 🙂

    I loved All the Birds, Singing too – one of the best books I’ve read for a long time. Getting out of the slump – I don’t have any words of wisdom for this either – I’m no help at all am I? I think I read somewhere that Evie Wyld likes Kate Grenville and Tim Winton, so you could give them a go?

    Hope you get out of the slump soon – and that I follow you back to blogging/reading plentifulness!

    • Glad I’m not the only one!

      I haven’t read anything by those two authors, so maybe I should check them out, thank you!

      Good luck with the dissertation and let’s hope we both start reading and blogging lots soon 🙂

  2. I can relate to much of what you say, Gemma. I love reading a variety of book blogs and have picked up so many great recommendations along the way, but it has raised my expectations of certain books. I think I’m getting pickier about the books I choose to read, so I’m putting more effort into selecting them. That said, I know I may not ‘click’ with everything (even the ones I choose to read), but disappointments are fairly few and far between. And if I don’t love something, that’s okay…

    As for suggestions on getting out of your reading slump, I’m not sure what to advise. Rereading a favourite novel gave me a bit of a boost when I hit a mini-slump last year, so revisiting the Evie Wyld was a good thought. Have you read her first novel, After the Fire…? If not, that might be worth a try. (I haven’t read it but have heard good reports.) Also, have you read Penelope Fitzgerald’s The Bookshop? I loved it, and several other bloggers seem to have enjoyed it too. (Desperately hoping it wasn’t one of your disappointments…)

    • I’m glad you can relate to this Jacqui.

      Yes I loved her first novel too, although I don’t have my own copy so decided to read the one I had!

      I did get The Bookshop out of the library after reading your review, although I haven’t had time to post about it yet. I did really enjoy it, and I wasn’t disappointed 🙂

      • Glad to hear. I hope you find a way out of your reading slump soon. Balancing everything can be hard, especially if you’re still in the midst of settling into a relatively new job.

  3. Aw great post and, don’t worry, you’re not the only one! I’m in just one big fat Slump with a capital S due to having no internet for a month (i.e. no blogging or reading of blogs/inspiration) and, while I was excited to take the time to read instead, I didn’t discover anything I found truly brilliant. I too am a lot harder to please these days which I suppose in principal isn’t a bad thing but in practice means less fun for me.

    We seem to have fairly similar taste in books so I’m confident you’ll enjoy Weathering – I was really pulled in by it. For new stuff I’ve really enjoyed Our Endless Numbered Days by Claire Fuller and Villa America Liza Klaussmann so far. Top notch storytelling.

    • It’s reassuring to hear I’m not the only one! And, I think you’re right, being more critical when it comes to books can be a good thing but it can be less fun!

      I’ve just started Weathering and I’m really enjoying it! Thanks for the recommendations – I’ve added them to my to-read list.

      Hope you get out of your reading slump soon 🙂

  4. I have no solution that others haven’t already suggested. I say don’t push it. The more anxious we become the harder it is to overcome. Blogging is a two-edged sword I believe – both in terms of its impact on what you read and then on how you think and write about it. I like the discipline – the way it makes me get my thoughts in order about a book rather than just move straight on to the next read, but it can add a layer of stress we don’t always need. We just need to remember that this is all supposed to be fun and that we should just relax and go with the flow.

    • This is fantastic advice, thank you! 🙂 I think you’re right, the more I worry about not enjoying the books I’m reading, the less I enjoy reading…Like you say, reading is meant to be fun!

  5. I hear you, Gemma. I just came back from a reading and writing slump, and I could not agree more with: ‘ getting really inspired by reading and adding numerous books to my to-read list, and then generally feeling uninspired by reading’. I keep buying books, gorgeous, inspiring books that I just want to sit down and read, then I will eventually get one of those days when you can’t stop reading… and then nothing in weeks. I’m either too busy or too tired. Or maybe making up excuses for not reading, but the result is I’m not reading. I wish you the best for this summer.

    • Thank you Elena 🙂 I feel that I may be slowly coming out of the slump, and writing this post helped a lot, as well as hearing that I’m not alone! I completely agree with what you say about being too busy or too tired – it seems that sometimes life just gets in the way of reading and if you’re feeling generally uninspired by reading anyway, you don’t necessarily make the effort to make time for reading, if that makes sense? I hope you get back into reading regularly again soon 🙂

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