Discussion: The Dreaded Slump

Hello friends!  I hope wherever you are you have everything you need and you are keeping healthy.

This past Saturday marked two weeks since I finished a book.  I’ve been trying to read the same damn book for over two weeks.  The book isn’t terribly long or even that bad.  I’d like to blame it on limited time- but I don’t have all that much less time now than I did a few months ago.

I’m hoping it’s not really a reading slump but at the same time, I’m just not as excited about reading as I used to be.  It could be that February was chock full of mediocre books.  It could be that I’m feeling the pressure of getting through all ten ARCs I have due (although I should note, ten in a month is typically doable for me).  It could be that my job is emotionally draining and I really just need to stock up on creative strategies for zombie killing now that all my paranoid delusions fantasies are coming true:

Z Nation Cheese Wheel

(Too soon?)

Maybe it’s all of those things.  Maybe it’s none of them.

Either way- I’m feeling frustrated (and perhaps a little disappointed) with myself.  Am I just picking the wrong books?  Will it even get better when I’m freed up to go back to mood and buddy reading?  Complicating matters, I’m not enjoying books I had fully expected to love, and I’m questioning whether I even like the fantasy genre any more.

Lucy Shrug

It’s come to a point where I feel like so many of these books just sound the same: hero goes on epic quest, displaced princess saves the world, enemies to lovers romance!  I feel like I’m missing out on the witty banter and exciting action scenes that once seemed to come to me so easily, Six of Crows, The Greatcoats, The Thief.  In short, where have all my favorite books gone?

Maybe I’m so stressed out that I don’t feel like I have time to read complex world building and deep characters.  I want all flash and no substance.  Things I don’t have to think about.

Anyway.  It’s enough to make me want to reread all my old favorites: The Last Kingdom and Under the Dome, Too Like the Lightning and maybe even an Anita Blake novel or three.  Yes, this slump has reached vampire orgy levels of desperation.

What I came here to ask, is what are your methods for coping with reading slumps?  Is it okay to put the ARCs aside for a week or two to get back in the groove?  Do I reread an old favorite?  Change up my genre?

Send Help Gif

22 thoughts on “Discussion: The Dreaded Slump

    • Thanks! I think I’ll find the motivation. I’m reading one now that actually is an ARC that I was really looking forward to and loving it. I’m hopeful that will push me out of it.

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  1. When I hit a slump, I switch gears. I put aside the review titles and look to my personal shelves, full of those long-lingering TBR titles, and grab something, usually from a different genre than I’ve been reading. I review a lot of fantasy, so I might grab a tattered old 80s horror paperback, one of my archaeologist adventure novels, or even turn to the e-reader and pick out something romantic/erotic. It’s a break, a palate cleanser, and a chance to rediscover the joy of reading.

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    • Thank you! I think that’s what I need. Is a break from fantasy. I am just not enjoying it like I used to. I’m reading one now that’s contemporary, which is way out of line with 99% of what I read, and it’s very refreshing.

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  2. I started immediately putting down an ARC if I found I wasn’t concentrating or was finding excuses to do other things besides read. And it’s perfectly fine to do that! You aren’t getting paid to read ARCs, even though you might feel obligated because you got a free book. Stepping away from ARCs and reading something you want to read, even a reread, could get you out of the slump. And don’t forget all the bad stuff going on in the world right now. My favorite thing to say right now when something isn’t working or I hear bad news is “Coronavirus is ruining everything!”

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    • Yes I’m wondering if that’s a big part of it. I’m just feeling anxious about the state of the world.

      But also thank you! It’s good to be reminded what our actual responsibilities are regarding ARCs. I typically feel pretty obligated to read them all beginning to end.

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      • I’m with Tammy. One thing I remind reviews is that the publisher is getting more out of you reviewing their book than you are by getting a free book, one that is likely a digital file and no skin of their knuckles. One trick I like to do is watch a movie I know I love that is in the same genre as what I’m trying to read. For fantasy, that may be anything from Conan the Destroyer to Constantine. If I’m just straight-up feeling overwhelmed by this world, I watch a movie that still has problems but lacks all the modern technology that is often at the root of the despair I’m feeling. I may watch Rebecca by Alfred Hitchcock or The Shining.

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      • I love that idea! I do tend to switch over to movies and TV when I’m not in the mood to read but want that sort of entertainment. Lately I’ve been hung up on a show called Z Nation. It’s not an award winning show by any means, but something about knowing there were survivors after the zombie apocalypse is very comforting! lol

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      • OMG, for a while there I was hung up on this stupid-ass show called Slobby’s World about a guy named Slobby Robby who has a vintage (80s and 90s) shop in Arizona. He’ll buy some banged up band t-shirt from the 90s, and Gen Z goofballs come in wearing fanny packs and mom jeans and buy the shirt for $100. It’s so bad and stonerific, and I just ate that show up.

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  3. Slumps are no fun! My best advice for getting out of them (aka what works for me) is to abandon your current reads and pick up a comfort read. Re-read an old favorite (or three) and then consider going back to the books that you abandoned. But, even then, don’t feel you have to pick those back up yet if you’re not ready.

    I hope you’re able to beat the slump without too much more effort!

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  4. Lol at “this slump has reached vampire orgy levels of desperation.” But if that’s what will help, then you might need to go there.
    I’m in a slump too and am just riding out the mood and taking a break until I feel like reading again. I’ve been like this for about a week now and slowly feel it lifting. I think sometimes you just have to go with the flow of it until it passes.

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    • Also good advice! Probably wouldn’t hurt to take a break. It just feels like a lot of pressure all the time to keep reading so I have stuff to post on the blog and meet the obligations I made when ARCs were sent.

      At the same time- I’m not doing anyone much good by half assing it.

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  5. Oh, sorry to hear that! My way of dealing with slumps is just doing something else and stop feeling like reading is my obligation – it should be fun. If it isn’t, it’s time to take a break! 😀
    Take care, Sarah!

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  6. When I hit a slump I usually go back and read some comfort books or try switching up genres. I read things that are purely for pleasure that I know I won’t be blogging about so there’s no pressure to follow up. Hope you’re mood to read improves soon! I know it’s been hard for me to concentrate lately with all the news and stuff going on in the world outside.

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  7. Switching genres might be a good tactic: even though we love SF or fantasy, it’s true that many books share similar elements and that after a while they seem predictable, even when the “journey” is well written and full of great characters. Moving for a while to a different genre could do the trick, either that or picking up, as you said, a story “all flash and no substance”, just like we would ask for a sherbet between two heavy courses of an important meal 😀 😀
    Best of luck!!!

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    • I always feel guilty for enjoying those “all flash no substance” books… but I probably shouldn’t. I feel like it just advertises what an unsophisticated reader I am. But yes- I’ve decided the best tactic (and it seems to be working so far) is to avoid fantasy for now. I’ve got plenty of horror and historical fiction and other stuff to keep me going.

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      • IMHO the mere fact that we choose to pick up speculative fiction books (no matter the sub-genre…) indicates that we are far from “unsophisticated”: wanting to know the answer to the great “what if…?” question shows the exact contrary 🙂
        That said, a little variety is always good for the soul!

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  8. Usually I re-read favorites to break slumps, but it sounds like you are a bit burnt out on fantasy right now? Maybe try reading a favorite from a different genre? Or just something different? I get into slumps when I feel like I have to read certain books, so I try never to have more than one ARC at a time (but I read a lot less than you) I don’t know the etiquette to reading ARCs but if you aren’t reading them anyway then I don’t see the harm in picking up something else to try and jump start your reading again!! Good luck!

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  9. Pingback: Month in Review: March 2020 | Hamlets & Hyperspace

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