Reading More-Fighting the Slump Part 1

At the start of 2015, I aspired, fought and dragged myself out of a very long (and terrible) reading slump. I’m talking maybe four or five years during which I really only read school books. They were dark times.
As a self-proclaimed ‘recovering reader’ I feel that I do have a bit of a perspective on the phenomenon that is the Reading Slump, and rather than going over some general techniques, I thought I could talk a bit about the things that motivated and assisted me on my journey back to the reading world.
In this first part I’ll mostly cover how I got back into reading, and next month hopefully I’ll cover some things that motivate me further and keep me picking up books.


{My eReader}


I actually can’t personally remember the exact moment where I suddenly fell back into a reading habit, but I DO remember why it all took off, big time. I’d recently started a Christmas Casual job at a pop-up stall, and found that it was quiet for quite long periods in the afternoon. When things weren’t busy we could pretty much occupy ourselves however, and I remember having the urge to pick up the Sookie Stackhouse series after abandoning it during university.
However, reading eBooks on my phone was rapidly destroying the battery which I had to preserve during ten or twelve hour shifts. This lead to the purchase of an eReader, for sake of convenience and size. Now the battery could last a whole month! Thirteen books later, and I’d somehow discovered Goodreads. (I think the eReader information package must have mentioned being able to sync with Amazon & Goodreads and so forth, or something).


{The Online Book Community}


 

Surely you know of Goodreads, or what else would you be doing here? I know people who prefer not to use it, as it’s believed to have a bit of a book recommendation bias due to it being owned by Amazon. However, I owe everything to the Goodreads website. Soon I was tracking all the books I had read, and adding more based on what other people were reading. It was a digital catalogue at my fingertips.

Goodreads also runs a yearly reading challenge, and maybe this was the biggest kickstarter for me. Physically sitting down and clicking that mouse on the pledge button was a trackable promise and motivator for me to start actually looking at all the books I had wanted to read but never did.

Next, and I don’t know how it happened, but thank god it did, came Booktube. The book community, but on Youtube. I hadn’t thought that it was even a thing, but soon I was following some of the most prominent booktubers from across the world, and nothing inspires me more to read than hearing people talk about books. Not only that, but it’s a great way to hear about new and popular releases, book events, read-a-thons, and also allows you to stare at pretty books from the comfort of your own home.

The other great thing about Goodreads, is that it’s the home of a great number of book groups and reading clubs. I joined a few who post about their own unique reading challenges, books of the month, and group read a longs. I’ve found these are a great way to meet new people with similar reading tastes, and to get yourself further involved in the books community.

Even more recently, I’ve started exploring the YALit Reddit tag . It’s a similar environment to other book clubs over on Goodreads, but for those perhaps more familiar with the Reddit format. There’s a monthly book club, discussions, and occasionally a guest author will host a discussion or Q&A session.


{Book Stores}



You heard me right. Somehow, during my university years (where I hardly read a thing that wasn’t required material), I’d stopped visiting book stores altogether. These days when I walk into a book store, I can’t help but check out the news releases, and basically have to restrain myself from buying everything I see. Ain’t no motivator like new, beautiful books to read.

Of course, online book sellers such as Book Depository offer cheaper alternatives (with free shipping), which helps me fill up my shopping cart, let me tell you.

I also find that just being surrounded by books and reading options puts me into a reading mood. It’s a shame that we don’t have any large-chain book stores in Australia any more, where you could just pick up a book, find a chair and read forever. Nevertheless, book stores are a pretty chill, relaxed environment, and often the shop assistants are more than happy to talk books with you.


{Reading Goals & Challenges}


I’ve covered a small portion of this with my talk on Goodreads, but I feel as though this was a really important one for me. After not reading for so long, I found that having so many options really can really cause you to become completely overwhelmed.

Whilst I found that the Goodreads Reading Challenge was the perfect motivator, if you struggle with just what to read, or where to start, other online reading challenges, such as the Popsugar Reading ChallengeModern Mrs Darcy Reading Challenge , and the Book Right Read Harder Challenge are perfect places to start.

Not only does having a challenge narrow down your reading list a bit, but it will often help to broaden your reading, or help you pick up a book that’s been sitting on your shelf for a year or more. They’re something you can undertake with other people, or all by yourself without great difficulty. Some challenges are even tailored down to just one challenge per month, and one book per month doesn’t sound too hard, right?

Online challenges also usually come with printable charts so that you can tick off each challenge as you go along, and can feel super great about your progress.


{Creating a Habit AKA Making Time to Read}


This was the other biggie for me. And the biggest problem? I didn’t even realise it.

I found that throughout my slump years I’d quite often complain that although I loved reading, I never had the time to actually do so. For me, reading fell into the same free time category as watching TV and playing video games, and it simply couldn’t compete. Nowadays, I almost can’t believe that was the case.

For one, I wasn’t a part of any reading groups, and no close friends of mine were really interested in reading. There was no information about new books, and no motivation to pick up any of the ones I had lying around.

We often hear that it ‘takes 21 days to form a new habit, or break one’ and this is in a sense true. The biggest step was starting up a routine. I knew that if I read a bit before bed, even just 50 pages a night, I could finish the average sized book in a week.

Personally, I’ve found that a reading habit is like sticking your hand in a quicksand. The more engrossed you become in a book, the more you want to read others in the series/ by the same author/ same genre. Soon you’re reading another and another, becoming attached to characters and writing styles. And suddenly? You realise it doesn’t require much motivation to read. In fact, you’re pumped up and excited to get back to that book, no matter how fast or slow you read.

Most days at the very least, I will read for half an hour to an hour before bed, depending on how close to the end of a book I am (The Mortal Instruments kept me up until the wee hours of the morning more than once). It’s become completely habitual in the sense that I don’t even sleep that well if I haven’t let myself wind down with a book first.

Another thing that helped enforce the habit was having a book on me always. Having an eReader definitely helped with this, as I could slip it into even my smallest handbag or coat pocket, and just read in my downtime. By having a book handy, it becomes an option. Waiting for the bus, between classes, before work, during lunch. I didn’t have to read, but the fact that I had a book handy increased my reading chances exponentially. Basically if I had time to kill, I had the option to read, and you won’t believe what a difference that makes. Big game changer.


These are just some of the things that brought me back into reading and subsequently helped me stay there. One of the main reasons I stopped reading in the first place was that I was reading so many books I didn’t like (for university reading, or research, or whatever). So perhaps that is my most important tip: Read what you love. If you aren’t digging it, stop. There are better things out there for you- so many books, more than you could ever read. Why waste your time on one you don’t enjoy?

Surely many book lovers are doing these things already, but maybe someone out there has forgotten a few of these options. Maybe surrounding yourself with books will help. I want to talk more about other book formats and reading options, as well as podcasts and even book blogging when I return with Part 2 next month.

In the mean time, let me know about your own experiences. What helped you read more? What’s your favourite book community?

avatar -Datsu xox



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Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/ThatsDatsu

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4 thoughts on “Reading More-Fighting the Slump Part 1

  1. Always having a book at hand really does make a difference – I follow the same method! But with the old-fashioned physical book. That’s why I always need to bring a big backpack :D
    What I also do to keep reading: everything you said. Nice post!

    Like

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