Let's have a chat… about READING SLUMPS!

April 4, 2019

Hello, lovelies! It’s been a while since I’ve made a discussion post here, and this seems like a fitting time for it. There’s a topic I’ve wanted to talk about more on this blog, anyways, and seeing as ya girl has been in the midst of one off-and-on (mostly on) ALL FREAKING YEAR…

Let’s talk about reading slumps.




  • verb
    1. sit, lean, fall heavily and limply
  • noun
    1. a sudden and severe fall
  • bonus definition
    1. “reading slump”: when your brain hates everything good in life and won’t let you enjoy books to the degree that they deserve to be enjoyed (i.e., THE UTMOST)

My reading slumps tend to go a little bit funny: it’s really rare that I suffer from general slumps; more often, I only slump in a specific genre. For example, last fall, I went a solid month without being able to enjoy any horror or thriller titles. Over the last several years, I’ve had many contemporary slumps, usually lasting several weeks each time.

This slump, however… has been the worst yet:

The Terrible, Awful, No-Good, Mostly-Fantasy-But-a-Bit-of-Other-Genres-Too Slump of 2019™


What do YOU think causes slumps?

I feel like there are so many things: life stress, poor mental health, changes in routine, or even just bad luck with the books you’re picking up. I’m pretty sure it’s been a combo of all of the above for me.
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The problem isn’t just the slump — it’s that I don’t know how to fix it.

I’ve had slumps plenty of times in the past, but they almost never last this long. I usually have some tricks for busting them, too! I’ll try reading short stuff, binge reading a stack of manga and graphic novels, reading a big variety of genres, rereading old favorites… but I’ve tried it all, and nothing is working!

The only thing I haven’t been willing to consider until now is: am I just reading too many review copies?

We all know I read a lot of ARCs, but I don’t talk about why very often. Long story short: I can’t afford to buy many books at all anymore, and my library system does NOT have a good selection of even remotely new releases, so review copies are it for me when it comes to staying on top of new releases!
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Sadly, when I’m already in a slump, I start missing review copy release dates — and that makes me feel guilty and overwhelmed.

What do I do? Do I keep trying to meet deadlines and hope the slump ends on its own? Do I ignore deadlines and try to learn how to stop wincing every time I realize another Tuesday passed without my reviewing everything I was given? The easiest answer would be to go on an ARC ban, but that ignores the fact that I already have these ARCs.

What’s your advice?

Do you have any tricks I haven’t tried? Have you been in a similar spot and had a slump last months without you being able to kick it? I miss binge reading. I miss laying in bed with my kindle and devouring an entire book before I fall asleep.
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(And please don’t say, “Just stop reading for a while!”, because I’ve tried that with slumps in the past and it always makes my slumps WORSE for some reason!)

As I’m typing this, all I can think is that maybe I need to learn how to let ARCs go a little bit and stop fretting over them so much. If you saw my TBR, you’ll know I planned on reading almost exclusively ARCs in April, but I think I may ditch that plan and try some serious mood reading. Thoughts? Has this worked for anyone else? HALP!
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More about Destiny @ Howling Libraries

Just a horror aficionado/geek girl trying to juggle motherhood, reading, blogging, gaming, and everyday life.

    1. Sorry about your slump! I do think reading only ARCs has something to do with it. It’s a downward spiral when you get behind (I am ALWAYS behind because I don’t read fast/have lots of time to read). Just stressing about how many books I HAVE to read makes me run for Netflix, lol. It’s real?

    1. I think cutting back on ARCs is a good idea. I have done that myself because I felt like I was putting too much pressure on my reading. Plus I am a mood reader and do not like feeling as though I HAVE to read a book.

    1. Yeah, I think for me, when I have too many ARCs I feel like I HAVE to read those. Then I feel like I can’t just choose what I want to read and that makes me not want to read at all. But then the ARCs keep piling up and it’s a vicious cycle.

      1. Yesssss, exactly this! It really is a vicious cycle and it’s awful! And I know if I stopped requesting them, it would stop eventually, but it wouldn’t help me with all the ones I have piled up right NOW, so it’s like… ?‍♀️?

    1. I have those reading slumps too and mostly it are ARCs that get me into one as well. It isn’t even the fault of the ARC but it’s rather the expectations that come with it. You have to read it, and sometimes to know that you have to do something takes away all the fun. You feel pressured and it starts to feel forced. 🙁
      I try to maintain a good reading balance and never read more than one ARC at the same time. If I feel like I can’t continue with it I just read one of my other books and after a few days I actually want to continue to read it. 🙂 Also I have a lot of ARCs that collected over time and I didn’t accept one for three months. It really helps to read the ones you already have. 😉

      1. Yes, exactly what you said about feeling forced! It turns it into a chore, which it shouldn’t ever feel like when you’re reading. I like the idea of limiting yourself to one ARC at a time. I think I might try limiting myself, too! I might do two so I could have one ebook and one physical ARC going at the same time, but I definitely think limiting them would help. At one point over the last couple of weeks, I think I had seven ARCs going at the same time, and it was really overwhelming. 🙁 Thank you for your help! <3

    1. I’m with you man. Honestly, what I’ve come to notice is that I don’t slump as hard when I have fewer review copies or when I don’t have any late. Switching my status to Librarian on Netgalley really overloaded me. Now, I’m overwhelmed, feeling guilty about being late, and the need to review books is stressing me out — aka ALL FEELINGS WHICH LEAD TO A SLUMP.
      So, I’m trying not to care as much about my ARCs… trying, but failing. *sigh* I’ve been mood reading for like 2 months, which has helped… until I got into book hangovers whiiich lead me to this weird slumpish thing I’m in. Or could I just have had a bad run of books??? WHO KNOWS?!
      I do think mood reading and trying to feel less pressure to read ARCs on time helps. Maybe you should make April a ‘Treat yo’self’ month and read what you want.

      1. Yoooo, YES TO ALL OF THIS. The overwhelmed feeling, the stress, the guilt, all of it. I love the idea of making April “treat yo self” month hahahaha. I think that is EXACTLY what I’m going to do! Thank you! I’m so glad I’m not alone. ♥ I think the Librarian status on NG is a big blessing and curse for me, too – on one hand, it is SO AWESOME to be able to immediately download so many exciting new releases, but on the other hand… oof.
        I tried something new yesterday and made myself a sheet in my ARC spreadsheet for books I’m *considering* requesting, with a note for WHY I’m considering it, where it’s available, if it’s up for “download now”, etc. I’m hoping doing that will help me whittle away the number I actually request because I often find that if I see something new, and request it right away, within a week or two, I’m wishing I hadn’t because it doesn’t sound as exciting anymore. ?

    1. I am 100% in the same boat as you. I have been in a semi-slump since summer of last year actually and it is really disappointing to me! I know it is not something either of us want to hear but I have found that if I really listen to what I want to read in the moment, I am more likely to enjoy the book than forcing myself to read things because I think that I have to. I know from experience how hard it is to look past things you feel responsible for completing but we just need to keep reminding ourselves that we do this for fun, and that reading is supposed to be about enjoyment.
      I know you are pretty good with it, but I am currently teaching myself to DNF more quickly if things aren’t for me, and that seems to be helping a bit with my slump. That and really looking at my TBR when it is time to choose a new book, and going with mood rather than requirement. Best of luck! I hope we can both break out soon :]

      1. I took awhile for me to learn and accept the DNF. It has really made my life easier. I’ve also found that if I DNF a book I was reading for my school library, I’m honest with students about DNF’ing the book. Some take it as a personal challenge and I’ve had some nice conversations about what we look for in books and mood reading.

      1. Oh noooo, that’s such a long time to slump! 🙁 I’m sorry! I know that’s a pain. And you’re right, it is so hard to look past the responsibilities but I have to learn how because I have no doubt that, if/when I can learn to do what makes me happy instead of just dwelling on the “chore” aspect, I’ll be so much happier with my reading! <3 Thank you for the tips. I hope you can bust your semi-slump soon!!

    1. When I have a reading slump I always go for a book that I love to do a re-reading or I take a break and I don’t read anything for a few days. I have also heard people recommend a lighter reading or a gender change, and I think they’re also good ideas. I feel that reading many ARCs can make us fall into this hated reading slump because of the obligation that comes with them, perhaps all that pressure can make you feel stressed about reading. I think first of all you should take time for yourself, self-care is so important. I hope you feel better soon, love ?✨?✨

      1. Thank you, Sofii ♥♥ you are so right! I just need to prioritize reading stuff that makes ME happy for a little while instead of obsessing so much over what I’m “supposed” to be reading.

    1. Sorry to hear that you’re going through this! I also went through this and I think reading a lot of (not so great) ARCs definitely contributed to me being in a slump. When I’m in a slump I always return to rereads of favourites. There’s something about the familiarity of the characters and story as well as knowing for sure it will live up to my expectations that comforts me and eventually allows me to move out of the slump.

    1. Reading slumps are becoming my trademark in 2019. I feel like I’ve been in one every month almost.
      I know most it has to do with ARCs. Like the stress of not mood reading and forcing myself to read them before they release.

    1. Maybe you are onto something with the ARCs. For me at least, cutting back on them made a lot of difference. I rarely accept / request them anymore, and i feel way better.
      Even though in the past 6 months i started disregarding release dates and didn’t stress myself about reading a specific ARC just cuz it’s coming out, it was still there in the back of my mind.

      1. I can see how that would make a huge difference! I think I need to become a LOT more picky about what I request or accept. I made a new little spreadsheet for myself a couple of days ago where I’m writing down ARCs that I’m *considering* accepting or requesting but haven’t committed to yet, and I think if I do that and make myself leave books on that list for a week or two, I’ll end up getting over my initial excitement with a lot of them and end up not requesting or accepting them in the long run, if that makes sense. Kind of like how, when I go clothing shopping, I always make myself walk around with the clothes for a few minutes before I buy them, because a lot of the time, I end up changing my mind before getting to the register. ???

        1. Good strategy! I do something similar for clothes as well, but online. Save them for my faves, and then just look at them… after a week i usually remove half of them 😀

    1. I’m feeling very much like this right now! Barely read any books this year and I’m so behind on my ARCs. ? I’m afraid I can’t give any advice because I have yet to figure out how to get over it. It’s been three months already!! I hope you feel better and get out of your slump ??

    1. I’m so sorry to hear you’ve been feeling that way, Destiny! <3 I think that what really helps me, when I'm feeling a slump coming, is to.. well, step away from the commitments and everything and the stress that ARCs can be and focus on what I really want to read. I take a real moment to look at my actual TBR and think about what I want to be reading the most, what excites me the most at the moment and I just… forget everything else and get into this book. Re-reads can work well, too, getting back into a book I loved and falling in love with it all over again <3 I hope you'll get out of this slump soon, sending you love <3

      1. Thank you, Marie! ♥♥ hugs! This is such good advice and exactly what I think I’m going to do. I need to just get into something good and exciting and remind myself of why I love reading so much instead of continuing to obsess over ARCs, which clearly isn’t helping. 🙁

    1. I have been in a major slump all week and it’s KILLING me because I had a TBR full of review books I needed/wanted to get read this week and it’s just not happening. Every night I’ve tried picking a book up, but it’s taken me like an hour to read a single chapter that’s like ten pages long. Normally graphic novels will help me get out of a slump, but that isn’t even working. I’ve tried a middle grade book. I’ve tried a fantasy book. Nothing. So, I’ve given in and instead of stressing about not reading, I’m using this extra time to schedule ALL THE BLOG POSTS. If I can’t read the books I can at least talk about them, right? I’ve always been rewatching a lot of Grey’s Anatomy which definitely isn’t a bad thing. I think though that getting so many blog posts scheduled has slowly but surely sparked my drive to read, so I’m going to give it another chance tonight. If reading doesn’t work again, I’ll probably be frustrated, but maybe I can get another blog post or two out of it at least.

      1. That’s awesome and such a good idea, to use your slump to motivate yourself to write a ton of blog posts! I should try that, and maybe it’ll help spark my reading interest a little better, too! 🙂 I hope your slump ends soon.

    1. Reading slumps are awful, and ARCs make it harder for me because I don’t DNF books, so if I don’t like a book I’ll still read it all the way through. I also try to reread books I love, or at least parts of it if I don’t have the time to do a full reread. I also get in reading slumps after I’ve been doing a lot of reading/writing and in that case I try to let my brain rest and watch Netflix or something, and that usually helps.

      1. Oh no, I can definitely see how not DNFing would make it even harder! I used to never DNF books EVER, but now I feel like I’m becoming The DNF Queen because I just dump so many books. ? I feel guilty about it sometimes, but to try and make it more fair, I always leave myself open to the option of giving a book a second chance later, unless I DNFed it because it was just really problematic or making me mad.

    1. I’m so sorry for your slump! I definitely understand that. I think trying to change the pressure your brain puts on you and ARCs might be helpful? I started to not enjoy reading because I was falling behind on ARCs (and I’m still not caught up) and putting WAY too much pressure on myself. I just try and be aware of how many I have and give myself a year to read them. I’ve also gotten better at saying no to books that I’m not seriously interested in and try to remind myself that reading should be pleasurable, not a job!
      I dunno if that helps, but hopefully, you find the solution that works for you! <3

      1. Thank you so much! This is really good advice. I can definitely see how letting go of ARCs would help so much, and I like how you give yourself a year to read them. I think sometimes I forget that, even though they’re “advance” reader copies, we don’t HAVE to review them ALL before their release. 🙂 Thank you!

        1. I definitely still struggle with it! But then I tell myself, too, that: a) I’m still reviewing the book that I promised I would, in exchange for the book; and b) my review, six months from now, could help respark interest in a book after the hype has died down a bit and still helps the author, numbers-crunching-wise, so it could still be a positive!
          So, I’m trying to make that mentality work. Some days, I’m good at it, others…not so much. But I wish you a ton of luck!

    1. I completely understand where you’re coming from. I’ve been in a reading slump for 8 months, and it wasn’t until this march that I’ve been able to pull myself out of it. I felt like complete shit every time i picked up a book and didn’t enjoy anything i read, but if i was able to get out of that long slump, I’m sure you’ll find your footing again.

    1. “I need to learn how to let ARCs go a little bit and stop fretting over them so much.”
      I’m going to assume that as a librarian and in grad school, you probably have loads of reading going on. I went through the same thing while in grad school. I’ve also found that now that I’m working in a middle/high school library, there IS SO MUCH MORE to read. (There are days that I miss the easier shorter books of the elementary school, I could fly through that TBR stack.) I have just recently gotten back into blogging because I felt guilty about getting behind on reviews, especially for ARCs, but I had so much reading and work to do for my actual job. I was burned out. I turned to old favorites (my comfort reads) and did a lot of mood reading. I also made a rule where I would only read for a certain amount of time unless I was really into the book. That way I didn’t feel so bad about putting the book down, but. I had some leeway if I got sucked in.
      You’ll just have to find the balance that works for you. I think the most important thing is to try not to feel guilty, accept the burn out, and take a mental health break.

    1. I feel like I’ve been in a slump all year…..and I dont know what to do either. I mean I have read some gems this year but most of the time I’m just not feeling it…and it’s so not like me!

    1. ugh slumps are the actual worst! What usually helps me is rereading an old favourite (Harry Potter for me) or soemthing really light and funny, so I don’t have to concentrate that hard or think about the story too much. So something that brings me back to reading but not with full force. does that even make sense?

      1. That definitely makes sense! I’ve been slowly working through HP rereads this year and that has been fun, but hasn’t fixed the slump yet, sadly. I think light and funny might be the trick this time, though, so I’m gonna try that! 🙂

    1. What I do is I think about a book (not necessarily an old fave but it can be) that I’ve been thinking about lately. One that has memories or there’s a topic in it that I’d like to explore again, and then read that one. It works more often than not (for me). But I agree about not stopping reading. Avoiding something makes it worse.
      If you are feeling stressed about the review copies you could email the publishers and just let them know that the reviews will be late. Maybe something like “Apologies, this is not the way I usually run my blog and/or reviews, however, I’d just like to take a little time to focus on my wellbeing. This means that unfortunately I may not get to the books you have provided me within the requested timeframe. I will get to them soon though, and I apologise for any inconvenience this may cause, and hope that you will continue to provide me with review copies in future.” (That last sentence needs some work, but you get the gist) xx

      1. Thank you! That sounds like a great idea – reading something that you’ve been thinking of a lot lately. It’s actually really funny timing that I saw your comment, because I’ve been thinking a lot lately of rereading the 1st Sookie Stackhouse book and continuing the series, and I finally started rereading it today and have been enjoying it so much so far! Then I see your comment, and it was just perfect timing haha.
        I love the idea of contacting the publishers like that, that’s such a good plan and I definitely think I’m going to try doing that. I don’t want them to think I’m just intentionally ignoring the copies they’ve sent me or anything! Thank you, love!! ♥♥ You’re always so kind and helpful!

      1. (also I’m so mad at wordpress because I swear I was following you, and this comment made me realize I hadn’t seen a post from you in a bit, so I went to check and NOPE. It keeps unfollowing blogs without me asking it to and it’s making me so mad lmao)

    1. I’m sorry to hear that you’re in a reading slump! I’ve definitely felt slumpish lately as well… it’s not that I haven’t read any good books, but I somehow feel like I can’t appreciate them as much as I should or would want to.
      I feel you on the ARC thing. I’m still new at blogging, so when I do get ARCs I feel obligated to read them and review them. I recently had to put down an e-ARC because I wasn’t feeling it, and I’m PLAGUED by guilt for having requested it in the first place. That being said, I don’t think anyone should ever have to read what they don’t feel like reading, provided it’s not for school or work purposes. We all started book blogging because we love reading, and so I don’t see the point in forcing myself to read things I don’t want to read.
      I don’t know how to solve your slump, but I do think you should cut yourself some slack! You deserve to read something you enjoy reading, rather than forcing yourself to read things you should be reading.
      I hope things get better for you soon! <3

      1. Yes, exactly! You get me haha. Even when I’m enjoying a book, for the most part, I can’t seem to enjoy it as much as I SHOULD, with very few exceptions lately.
        You’re so right on how we shouldn’t force ourselves. Easier said than done, I know, but please don’t feel guilty for DNFing your eARC! I have to DNF review copies every so often and I’ve never gotten any crap from a publisher about it, thankfully – I think they know the risk comes with the territory. ♥
        Thank you so much! I think I’m officially declaring April – as Sionna said in another comment on this post – “treat yo self” month! ?

        1. YESSSS I think you totally should! Blogging starts to feel like a job at a certain point, but that’s the point we need to take a step back and make it fun! I hope you have a wonderful April and best of luck getting out of your slump! <3

    1. I’ve been in a huge slump since September and I have no idea how to fix it either. I completely forgot about ARCs as soon as it happened, ignoring all the copies I already have and not requesting any more. It’s taking me about a month to read a book, which isn’t fun! I’ve not got any solutions for you, but I can say you’re not alone.

    1. It sounds like everyone who gets/reads ARCs experiences these slumps like you. I think any time we’re faced with things we HAVE to do there’s an automatic level of stress there. Then we get behind or it becomes a real pain in the butt or just disagreeable to some degree the task is made that much more stressful. A book I’ve been reading for probably two months and should have DNF’d (but now I’m 3/4 through so I can’t) made me feel like I was in a slump because I just wasn’t enjoying it. I was waiting for the story to pick up or shoot be a story and it never happened. Every time I went to read it was an obligation to finish this book so I could start another and that made me pained to read.
      The real slump I’ve been in is with my writing because I lost track of my direction for my story, and I just wasn’t having the same kinds of breakthroughs. So writing became this pattern of spending time doing it but not feeling the reward of sense of achievement I was looking for when I finished.
      Another thing to consider is the idea of plateauing. Think exercising. They warn you (not you specifically of course) not to let yourself fall into a slump when you’re say losing weight or building your fitness or starting a new regimen. You’re on high for a while in the beginning and then you level out, you plateau, and suddenly you’re not losing weight as fast, or making as much progress with your goals. Then you slump because you don’t see the same rewards. Maybe all your ARCs are blinding you to the rewards of reading because before you can marinate in the last book you’re thinking about how many more you need to be starting.
      Long reply, sorry, but I wish you all the best on getting out of your slump.

      1. Thank you for the comment, and please don’t apologize! You actually made such a great point about the “plateau” with reading ARCs! I’ve never looked at it like that and it makes so much sense to think that could be part of the issue, that I’m not even taking time to dwell on my enjoyment, or to enjoy the books to the fullest, because I’m just obsessing over what else I “have” to read in a certain time frame.

    1. I’ve also been in a fantasy slump recently and it’s the worst! Usually, when I’m in a fantasy slump I turn to something that’s lighter and read that to get back into the reading spirit, but this time it seems like the slump has leaked over into all my reading ?

      1. Oh noooo! I feel that! 🙁 It’s so awful, especially if you usually read a LOT of fantasy (I know I do). I seem to have kicked the slump over the weekend – I THINK – but it’s hard to tell because I’ve been so busy this week that I have hardly had the time to read and find out. ? Fingers crossed. I hope your slump ends ASAP! <3

    1. Have you tried rereading something you already know you enjoy? I know when I get in a bit of a slump if I’m not able to actually reread the book I kind of dive back into the fandom and live in it for a little bit. It reminds me why I love the story in the first place and everything I enjoy about reading again. And honestly, I’m horrible about reading when I have to so I would be in a bit of a slump because of that too. Good luck on your reading!

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