In the past few weeks, I’ve been writing articles about overcoming: overcoming self-doubt, imposter syndrome, procrastination, and writer’s block. But have you ever thought about overcoming reader’s block?
Reader’s block isn’t something I thought about much until a friend of mine posted about it on her Instagram page. But as soon as she mentioned it, I realized that we all suffer from reader’s block!
There are other names for reader’s block, like a “book hangover”, a “book slump”, or a “book hole” (similar to a “show hole”, which is what you fall into when you finish a particularly excellent series).
Whatever you call it, it’s got the same symptoms:
When you have reader’s block, listen to what your mind is trying to tell you. Maybe you’re trying to read a genre you’ve outgrown but you’re still determined to love. Maybe you’re trying to pick books that you just don’t like, but you try to because they’re so popular.
So, if you’re suffering from reader’s block, never fear! Read below for some tips to you get you back on your steady diet of endless words and bottomless cups of coffee.
Don’t set yourself up for failure
One way to get reader’s block for sure is to tackle books you feel like you “ought to read” like literary classics. Feeling left out because you never read War and Peace or The Fellowship of the Ring? You don’t have to. Many people reach for ambitious tomes because they feel like they “should” read it, or they “have” to read it.
Unless you’re reading it for school, don’t be overly ambitious and try to read a book you have no interest in reading. That is the number one way to stall out your pleasurable reading. When I was a teacher, I would tell my students to read anything—whatever seized their interest, whether it was a comic book or even magazine articles. Grab a book you want to read, anything! It doesn’t matter what it is, and no one will judge you for choosing a steamy romance or the latest issue of Cosmo over Tolstoy.
Try little bites of fiction
Another great way to overcome reader’s block is to try a quick bite of fiction. Short stories can help you get back into the swing of things, and it’s fun to flip through a collection of short stories until you find that one that pulls you in. If delving into a 300-page tome is a little intimidating now, grab a short story anthology or go online and read the hundreds of stories out there you can read, many for free! Sites like Tapas, Voyce.Me, and Penpee all feature quick bites of fiction you can read in just a few minutes. A short story or webtoon is like an appetizer, getting you ready for your main course.
Other sites like our own Fictionate.Me, Wattpad, Kindle Vella, and Royal Road also feature writers who publish their novels chapter by chapter, or they publish web serials one episode at a time. Authors release episodes once or twice a week, and each episode is a quick read, which is a great way to ease you back into novels without feeling too overwhelmed.
Try a different genre
I am wholeheartedly a lover of sci-fi and fantasy, but sometimes I even get reader’s block when trying to find something new to read. Why? Burnout. While I love speculative fiction, it’s nice to dive into something totally different. My mother-in-law recommended Gillian Flynn’s thriller Gone Girl to me one day when I was lamenting that I couldn’t find anything new I wanted to read. At first, I was hesitant because it didn’t feature dragons, or spaceships, or hobbits. But I decided to take a chance, and wow! Now she’s one of my favorite authors, and I love to read her books or a good Brian Freeman serial killer mystery as a palate cleanser. It works wonders, I promise! And you might just find a new favorite author or a whole new genre you love.
Don’t force it
One thing I hear many readers say is that they never quit a book once they start. They’re super determined to finish. I used to be like that too. My mama didn’t raise a quitter. But then I got older and realized life is too short to read books you don’t like. Trying to slog through a boring book just because you’re determined to finish it is one of the biggest reasons we get reader’s block! If you don’t like a book, no biggie! There are literally millions of other books out there for you to try on for size.
Try an audiobook
Listening to a book has the same benefits as traditional reading, so if you’re feeling less than inspired to read a book, try listening to one! We all have different learning styles, and if you’re an auditory learner, an audiobook might be just what you need to reignite your love of reading. Plus, with an audiobook you can multitask and listen while you’re driving or doing the dishes, making you feel extra accomplished!
Seek out comfort reads
With so many new books out there to read, it might seem counterintuitive to read a book you’ve already read. But like rewatching your favorite TV shows, rereading a favorite story can be a source of comfort because you know what’s going to happen—there’s no anxiety wondering about all the what-ifs. And with every rereading, you’ll get something new out of an old classic.
You can also use your favorites as springboards to find new books to read. Sites like Book Browse let you search for books similar to your favorites, the same way Apple Music will bring up “similar artists” when you’re listening to your favorite band.
I hope these little tips and tricks will help you fall back in love with reading!