Fixing a Reading Slump

In the open Whatcha Reading? thread last weekend, many of you said you were in a reading slump – which sucks. I hate when that happens. 

Bryn emailed me and asked: 

Reading today’s postings made me think:  wouldn’t it be nice to have a list of books from my fellow readers that helped them break out of their reading slump? 

If you are ever so inclined I’d love to see the titles that helped my fellow Bitches get their swing back.

Oh, hell, yeah. Of course!

If I'm in a reading slump, I do one of two things. I either go back and re-read something I know I loved and know I'll really enjoy reading again, like the Alpha & Omega series by Patricia Briggs, starting with Cry Wolf ( A | BN | K | S | ARe | iB ). Or, I'll read a little bit of a whole slew of things until I find something that grabs me. Sometimes I take a break and read nonfiction, and when I come back to the fiction, my brain is ready for more. 

I don't know if there's a book I could name that's a reading slump destroyer, aside from my most favorite comfort re-reads. What about you? What books have helped you break out of your reading slump? What book do you recommend to someone who is in a slump? 

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Random Musings

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  1. 1
    Miranda says:

    I’ll go out looking for new authors. Back in the pre-kindle days, that would mean a trip to a bookstore and randomly selecting a few new books and hoping I’d get lucky. These days, it means pulling a lot of samples on Kindle and reading through them.

  2. 2
    Lyssa says:

    When I am in a slump I go to my favorite series first. Rereading the In Death series by J.D.Robb/Nora Roberts, Kate Daniel’s series by Ilona Andrews, the Black Jewels series by Anne Bishop, The Troubleshooters series by Brockmann, Georgette Heyer or the Vorkosigan Series by Bujold from the beginning often will knock me out of my reading slump, simply by reuniting me with old favorites.

    Another trick I have tried is…going to the library and simply picking books at random to read. I occasionally find new series or new authors this way.

    And finally I look to my friends. Recently I noticed that several friends had read “The Glamorist histories” by Mary Robinette Kowal. A new series that combines regency in the style of Jane Austin combined with an elegant magical style that suits the period, and a well written ‘alternative History” it is quickly moving into my Favorite series.

  3. 3
    shawny J says:

    My reading slumps usually happen when I lose interest in everything on my eReader. It’s like opening your closet and going “I have nothing to wear”. I hate buying new titles when I’m in that phase, because I usually pick random stuff and it’s often not very good. So then I go back to my shelf of paperbacks and read some old comfort reads. Since I was going through a massive paranormal phase before I got the eReader, it’s usually JR Ward, Jeaniene Frost, or Karen Marie Moning who gets picked up. The nice thing is they all right in series, so if i I need a couple instalments of the BDB or Cat and Bones before I start looking for new titles, I have that option available to me.

  4. 4
    Liz H. says:

    @shawny J-

    I hate buying new titles when I’m in that phase, because I usually pick random stuff and it’s often not very good.

    Exactly!

    Like others I turn back to my keepers shelf at that point. I often also switch genres to try to blast myself out. I will occasionally try a new book from a “best of” list by reviewers I trust, but those are actually quite difficult to find. DA had a few “If you like XX, then you’ll like XX”, but those were primarily based on reader suggestions, and not very helpful. I like the “Which one first” posts here, but those are really best if you know you want to try the author. You really need “Which one firsts” as intros to each romance sub-genre (and UF too) with 20-30 books each. That would be a perfect slump buster.

    My tried and true turn to book when I’m in a slump is ‘Faking It’ by Jenny Crusie.

  5. 5
    Diatryma says:

    When I look at the to-read shelves and the library stack and cannot find anything to read, I either go for my eating nonfiction* or for children’s books.  They fill much the same brain-niche as romance for me, they’re fast, they’re generally safe or at least known quantities of wrenching, and I haven’t read all of them yet.  I’m going through the Iowa Children’s Choice right now, waiting for my usual romance authors to publish more.

    *I like to read when I eat.  Sometimes I will skip meals because I don’t have a book.  Solution: nonfiction with good stopping points that I try to read only at the table.

  6. 6
    Tam B. says:

    When I have nothing to look forward to (releases from authors I like) then I either;

    Go a little click crazy on Amazon or Goodreads and try a lot of samples.  I’m very cheap (during a slump) and only buy new author books if they are about $4 or less.  I keep a samples collection on my kindle for any new books that interested me at some point but I didn’t want to read then.  I review these out to see if any suit.

    Or else I like to re-read some favourites.  The books that get me through:
    – Silver Shark (Ilona Andrews short) – this is my favourite pick me up book.
    – Beast Behaving Badly (Shelly Laurenston) – which usually gets me re-reading more books in the series
    – Enemy Mine (reviewed on SBTB and the reason I bought the book) is a great sci-fi title with a strong heroine lead and always keeps you guessing.  Even knowing who really is the bad buy I still enjoy it every time.
    – I also like to listen to audio books and have a couple of Georgette Heyer titles (Talisman Ring / Frederica) that always make me smile.

    If all else fails I end up here at the Bitchery hoping someone has just reviewed a great new book that I can read.  (Actually I usually start here.)

  7. 7
    Jen says:

    I tend to just ride it out. If I don’t feel like reading, I don’t. I might catch up on my DVR stuff, or I read some magazines, etc. Eventually the slump passes and I dive back into reading! Alternatively, sometimes I treat myself to a new book from an author I know I love. For instance, recently I treated myself to a new Jill Shalvis book when I felt in a bit of a slump. I don’t buy tons of books full price, but I usually save them for times like this where I need a treat of some kind.

  8. 8

    I fall back on Jonathan Tropper. He makes me cry, he makes me laugh my head off and by the end of it I’m back on my book bandwagon.

  9. 9
    samalamadingdong says:

    Lately, my slump-busters have been fun quirky YA novels. So, if I feel like I’d rather drown myself than read another regency romance, that’s where I go. A few suggestions:

    The Raven Boys – Maggie Stiefvater
    Love and Other Perishable Items – Laura Buzo
    The Sky is Everywhere – Jandy Nelson

  10. 10
    Lynnd says:

    I was in the mother of all reading slumps from Christmas until about a week ago.  I managed to read one of my most anticipated books and a few short stories but that’s pretty much it for anything new.  I have been re-reading old favourites to try to get myself out of it.  It was finally my re-read of Tigana by Guy Gavriel Kay that finally worked (I love that book!).

  11. 11
    Tamara Hogan says:

    When I’m in a reading slump, I hit the non-fiction a little harder to cleanse my palate. Right now I’m reading Douglas Rushkoff’s PRESENT SHOCK. The book opens with an argument that, given social media and the 24/7 news cycle, we may be losing our ability to absorb traditional narrative.

    As a storyteller, this interests me greatly.

  12. 12
    Elyse says:

    I usually break out my two favorite regency authors, Edith Layton & Eloisa James, even if I’ve read the book before. It gets me back into the groove.

    Sometimes I’ll change genres totally and go for a mystery/thriller or hard sci fi to cleanse my palate.

  13. 13
    Laylapalooza says:

    Colette Moody’s Parties in Congress. It is the only f/f novel I reread intentionally, rather than accidentally (because sometimes I just can’t remember which Xena ubers I’ve read). The dialogue is very snappy and the whole book is just a pleasure to read.

  14. 14
    Lostshadows says:

    I usual try a genre shift first, a lot of my reading slumps seem to be genre burnout. If that doesn’t help, I’ll switch to old favorites. After that I try browsing for new books to see if something catches my interest.

    If I’m still stuck after trying all of those, I take a break from reading. Usually, after a few days, or sometimes a few weeks, my brain goes back into reading mode.

  15. 15
    kimsmith says:

    I write.  If I don’t have anything I want to start from scratch, I edit.  If I’m having a writing slump, too, I write fanfiction, doing missing scenes from favorite shows, or rewriting scenes with supplemental material.

    In the meantime, I’m reading newspapers, magazines with short pieces (my subscription is for The Week, but when I’m not wanting to read, I’ll buy Time or just about anything—the key idea is a mag chock full of shortness), blogs, billboards, boxes of cereal and other food wrappings—and then I might resort to doing something like balancing my checkbook (sigh).

    AND THEN there was Free Books for my PC.  So I can download something I probably didn’t want to read in the first place.  I don’t have to think, debate, make a commitment—just give something that wasn’t my choice to begin with a try.  I’ve gotten about 7 books that way, pitched 4, finished 3 and liked them.  By the time I finished the ones I read, I was ready to get back to making my own decisions.

  16. 16
    Alex says:

    When I feel meh about everything on my shelves, I usually either read one of the dog magazines that’s been piling up, or take in a couple chapters of whatever nonfiction book I’ve been reading in bits and bites over the months/years/eons. Usually after a couple of days a craving for some book, or at least a genre, kicks in…and in the meantime: dogs or learnings, yay!

    (I actually tend not to go back to something I’ve read before, because when I’m feeling unenthusiastic, the last thing I want is a book I know the ending to, no matter how good it is. I probably have some exception to that, but I can’t think of it rn.)

  17. 17
    hapax says:

    I keep a whole slew of post-it notes on my cubicle wall of books outside my usual tastes that received a stellar review from someone I trust. 

    Sometimes it’s a subgenre or style I usually dislike (I’m not at all fond of romantic suspense, but Brockmann’s TROUBLESHOOTERS rocketed me out of a slump several years ago; most recently, ELEANOR AND PARK—a contemp YA with alternating POV—kicked off a whole series of really amazing reads (including Karen Lord’s BEST OF ALL POSSIBLE WORLDS, reviewed here a month or so ago).) 

    Other times it’s an author who has disappointed me in the past, but with a story containing a trope I love.

    Anyways, I find that the solution is to go *slightly* outside of my comfort zone, but still located within the Land Of Trust.  If I’m already in a slump, wandering too far in the wilderness (e.g., a grimdark fantasy recommended by a reviewer new to me) is more likely to taint the entire new region with my dissatisfaction.

  18. 18
    Karenmc says:

    I try to get out of my chair and actually do something around the house. I’ve been in a slump for several weeks now, and yesterday took a carload of unwanted stuff to the Salvation Army. It hasn’t stopped the slump (don’t know if I’m going to finish the book I’m slogging through now, even though it’s the last of a trilogy), but there’s more room in the house, and two cases full of cds that I thought were gone forever turned up!

  19. 19
    Cyranetta says:

    Sometimes I will reread an old favorite, but more often I will go for a non-fiction author with a humorous bent (Bill Bryson has a wonderful backlist).

    Jon Stewart or Stephen Colbert are oddly enough excellent sources of reading inspiration—I recently came across Mary Roach’s work from an interview (Stewart, as I recall), and am in the middle of Bonk, which is screamingly funny.

    Perhaps for me the act of laughter is like drain cleaner for clogged enthusiasm channels.

  20. 20
    Katie Lynn says:

    I tend to binge on a specific genre and then tire of it (while thinking that ‘I have nothing to read!) until I recall that other genres exist. I tend to go for extremes, so something like Historicals means I would read Urban Fantasy and then move to YA and then Contemporary until I hit the thing I was looking for. Usually such a dramatic shift in what I’m reading fixes it. I’m not really in a slump; I’m in a slump with a particular genre.

  21. 21
    Bridget says:

    I reach for short stories.  I have several go-to collections…

    A History of Barbed Wire by Jeff Mann (m/m BDSM erotica)

    The Things That Make Me Give In by Charlotte Stein (erotica)

    Anything by John Everson (erotic horror) I just can’t pick on collection

    Woodworm by Poppy Z. Brite (horror)

    Songs of Love and Death, edited by George R. R. Martin.

    way22, there’s more than 22 ways to get out of a reading slump with anthologies.

  22. 22

    I usually have one or two books on my TBR shelf that are like an emergency stash of chocolate (and who doesn’t have that?). They’re books I want to read by favorite authors, but I’ve been saving them for a slump when I need a guaranteed pick-me-up. I just finished Ben Aaronovitch’s Whispers Underground (Peter Grant #3) and it did the trick, re-energizing my reading.

  23. 23
    Laura says:

    I tend to put the books on hold for a while when I’m in a slump.  I usually have some craft project that I need to get done and I’ll try to get a few of those done.

  24. 24
    LG says:

    Unfortunately, I can never tell what might get me out of a reading slump. Sometimes I need to entirely switch genres. Sometimes I just need something fast-paced and snappy. Sometimes I’ve been reading too many mediocre/bad books and need something really, really good, to remind me that I still like reading.

    This time around, it was a combination of good and fairly fast-paced books that got me out of my reading slump – Frank Tuttle’s Hold the Dark and Jane Fletcher’s The Temple at Landfall. Both authors write things that remind me of works by authors I’ve enjoyed – so, comfort reads by association, maybe?

    I’m not sure if I’m fully out of my reading slump, so I’m tempted to alternate books by the two authors for a while, since they’re both part of series. I just hope that doesn’t bring about a new reading slump…

  25. 25
    Jessi Gage says:

    I’ll hit the websites of my favorite authors and look for something I haven’t read before. I also like review sites for recommendations.

    Hope anyone in a reading slump gets out of it fast!

  26. 26
    Susan says:

    When I’m in a slump, I go straight to anthologies of short stories in a whole array of genres.  Something about the short form lets me read a bunch of little things without committing and making my reader-brain even more cranky.

    And of course, when I love a short story, I end up wanting to read everything an author has written, and that too can break a reading logjam.

  27. 27
    MissB2U says:

    This is awesome.  It made me sit a bit straighter, lift my head, peer through my bangs and say “YES.  That would help.”  The idea of completely switching genres is appealing, as is reading something really well written.  I took myself off to Half Priced Books with a budget and a few hours of free time and checked out everything that caught my fancy.  Came home with a book by Suzanne McLeod that turned out to be the third in a series so I found the first and started reading “The Sweet Taste of Blood”.  I also spent some time at Goodreads and the library website putting some things on hold so I have a trickle of new stuff coming in.  I knew you guys would HABO!

  28. 28
    Mandy says:

    I went through a slump recently.  I read several highly touted books that turned out to be more “New Adult” crap.  My go tos are anything by Kristen Ashley and now I am going back through Lorelei James’s Rough Riders series.  Seems to be working just fine!

  29. 29
    laj says:

    @Darlene Marshall: Aaronovitch is so good.  If you like audios the narrator for the Peter Grant series is incredible!

  30. 30

    @laj—Thanks! I’ve been enjoying reading them for the mystery and the LOL moments. Loved this line: “I’m half fairy, and no, that doesn’t mean my father was a sharp dresser who enjoyed musical theatre.”

    I can hardly wait for the next Peter Grant mystery!

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