Reading Slumps and How I Get Out of Them

Hi everyone! This is a different post from me – a more chatty one than the usual reviews (which are coming back on Thursday). In the month of June, I had a reading slump. I just could not find the interest to pick up a book. And when I did crack open the pages, I found myself unable to be immersed in the story or engage with the characters. What had happened? I have no clue. The traveling I was required to do? The job applications I was writing? My other jobs becoming busier? Or I had read so much previously that I burnt myself out? Perhaps a combination of them all. Whatever way, I wasn’t reading, and I felt tremendously guilty about that.

I have debated whether or not to post this for the last couple of weeks; after all, this is a book blog, and who wants to hear of a book blogger who has spells of not reading books? People will think I’m weird, or not ‘good enough’ to review work. Eventually I reckoned  other bloggers must feel the same way as I from time to time. They could be busy with other commitments, they could be struggling to enjoy the book they’re currently reading. Heck, even that massive TBR pile could put people off. Whatever the reason, reading slumps happen. So I thought I’d share a couple of tips that helped me beat the burn out (and hopefully will help you too).

1. Stop Reading

I know, I know – you’re already not reading much. Shouldn’t you at least attempt 5 pages? That’s better than nothing, right? This idea of forcing yourself to read a set number of pages – or just forcing yourself to read in general – never worked for me. In fact, it made me feel guiltier as I didn’t want to read, so I beat myself up about not even wanting to pick up my book, which eventually meant I wouldn’t pick it up at all. It was a vicious cycle in a way. So I stopped reading. If I didn’t want to read, I didn’t read.

This not only benefitted me, but also the authors whose work I’m reviewing. If I’m forcing myself to read, it is harder to write about the book and the writing/themes/characters etc. I think negatively about the book, not because of the book itself but my attitude at that precise moment. My feelings reflect in my thoughts on the novel, which isn’t fair to the author. Now, when I want to read I do, and authors and their work get the reviews they deserve. The book gets judged on its own merits, not on how I’m feeling on that particular day. Which leads me rather nicely to my second piece of advice:

2. Do Something Else (and don’t feel guilty about it)

Want to watch a film? Bake a cake? Hang out with friends or go on a hike? Do it. It may seem silly, but I used to feel guilty for wanting to do these things – shouldn’t I be reading and writing reviews instead? Isn’t that the point of a book blogger? I would have those thoughts lingering in the back of my mind whilst I was off to the cinema or the great outdoors, meaning I couldn’t really enjoy those activities either because I was thinking I should be somewhere else instead.

But I remembered – I have many hobbies. I don’t blog about all of them no, but they are still my hobbies and still important to me. Why should I feel bad for wanting to indulge them? If they make me happy, then why do I feel so guilty for wanting to do them instead of picking up a book?

3. Your blog ≠ You

The reason I was feeling guilty for having reading slumps was because of my blog. I felt that I should be posting regularly – after all, that’s what many people say when they give advice to newbies about starting. Work out a schedule and stick to it. It’ll make blogging easier. You’ll get readers and followers quicker that way. The more content, the better.

I remember I would read blogs during my reading slump and think, ‘Wow, they’re posting 4 or 5 times a week, I should be doing that! Why am I not doing it?’ The true was because that’s not me. That never will be me. Twice a week is more my thing, I post regularly but don’t feel like I’m spamming peoples’ inboxes. I would also feel guilty that these bloggers were able to read so much more than me. This meant I was trying to read as quickly as I could, which in turn meant I wasn’t enjoying the books I was reading. There was no time to digest it, really think about what I liked or disliked the book. Which, again, is also not fair to the authors. This lead to me not wanting to read at all, feeling like it was becoming a chore rather than something I enjoyed.

So I took a wee break from blogging. I didn’t log in or plan posts (or indeed panic when I needed something scheduled that week but I hadn’t read anything). Instead, I just indulged in my other hobbies. It gave me time to unwind, and also remember I’m not those bloggers – I can’t post 4/5 times a week nor read as fast as they can. And that’s fine. I’m myself and go at the pace I feel comfortable with. Will I have the most followers or show up at the top of everyone’s dashboard? No, and I’m ok with it. As a result, my reading slowed considerably down, and I was able to appreciate and love literature again.

 

This post is pretty much a long-winded way of saying, ‘Just chill out and don’t worry about it’. Which is true. The more I worry about reading slumps, the further down the rabbit hole I go. Sometimes it is better just to not overthink it, go and do the things you like to do, and come back to reading later. The books and the worlds that they contain will still be there when you return.

Has anyone else experienced reading slumps? Got more advice? Leave them in the comments down below!

The Secret Life of a Book Blogger Tag

Hi everyone! This is a first for me as whilst I love reading people’s answers to tags, I have never actually done one myself. But I saw this on Brunching Bookworms (and you should follow them as they’re amazing) and I couldn’t help myself. So without further rambling let’s get on with the questions.

1. How long have you been blogging?

Random Book Reviews Web started in May 2017 so about a year and 3 months. However I did run a Tumblr years ago. At the time I thought I was being quite non-conformist and edgy, but in hindsight I was a spotty schoolgirl reblogging Van Gogh paintings and philosophy quotes, thinking I was ‘deep’. Cringe.

2. At what point do you think you’ll stop blogging?

I don’t have any immediate plans to stop blogging, but I reckon when it stops being fun I’ll probably quit. I don’t see the point in continuing something just for the sake of it.

3. What is the best thing about blogging?

The community. I know everyone says that but it’s true. It’s fun to chat with fellow book lovers, especially since I don’t know that many readers in my real life, plus I love getting recommendations or discovering books I had never heard of.

sunflowers
Nothing says ‘edgy’ like sunflowers     National Gallery, London

4. What is the worst thing? What do you do to make it okay?

My harshest critic is myself. I get really annoyed with myself if I miss a deadline for a blog post- even though there is no ‘deadline’ per say and it’s just a random date I decided I would publish on. Two recent examples were when I wasn’t feeling well and when my laptop broke down. On both occasions I panicked my content wouldn’t upload on a certain date, despite knowing no one would notice or care if I skipped a day. I think this needs to be a goal for 2019: worry less!

5. How long does it take you to make/find pictures to use?

Since the vast majority of my pictures are book covers, probably less than 5 minutes. However I do have a post coming up which will require a bit more photography prowess on my part. Which is going to be…interesting.

6. Who is your book crush?

Rochester is pretty much my go-to answer, I love his character and the novel. Though a recent one might be Lenny from Linda Grant’s The Dark Circle; despite having some problems with the ending I thought Lenny’s character arc was beautiful and touching.

7. What author would you like to have on your blog?

I’m going to split this into dead and alive authors but to be honest there’s so many I couldn’t possibly name them all.

Dead: Daphne du Maurier and George Orwell. Both helped me get back into reading as a teenager, and their books still have an effect on me despite multiple rereads. Also I would quite like to know Orwell’s thoughts on the current political climate.

Alive: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I adore all of her novels, with Purple Hibiscus being one of my favourite books. I just find them brimming with humanity, with some moments warm and witty while others just heartbreaking. I can’t wait to read her next novel.

the dark circle
Lenny still fav after over a year book blogging

8. What do you wear when you write your blog posts?

It depends. On weekdays probably jeans and a shirt and on weekends, in all honesty, I’m probably in my PJs.

9. How long does it take you to prepare?

Again it depends. I usually write notes while I’m reading so I don’t forget later on. I then collate my notes to try and form coherent thoughts. I also normally edit a post a couple of times before publishing it so, excluding the reading/note taking time, on average about 2 hours.

10. How do you feel about the book blogging community?

I think I answered this in question 3, but I’ve found everyone really friendly and welcoming.

11. What do you think one should do to get a successful blog?

I’m definitely the wrong person to answer this question. I think if you start a blog purely for monetary gain/internet fame/free stuff/material gains you’ll be disappointed.

Other than that, I would say just be yourself, which I know is quite naff advice. For example I was terrified of reviewing Anne Tyler’s Vinegar Girl. I loathed that book (still do) and I knew Tyler had a large fanbase and is a really respected, prolific author. I was worried people would judge me for not liking it, which I know is silly. But I decided to be honest and it became one of my most read and liked reviews of 2017! So yeah, even if you think you have an unpopular opinion about a book, just share it anyway – people prefer it if you were honest about your opinions rather than hiding them.

vinegar girl
Do. Not. Read. This. Book.

And that’s all the questions! Sorry this is a lot longer than I anticipated. I won’t tag anyone but instead leave it open if others want to join in!