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  • Anna Rosciszewski

How to Get Out of a Reading Slump

It comes at night. It creeps in through the bit of the window that does not quite meet the floor, knocking the mighty pile of books by your bed into the corner to collect dust with one uncivil gust of stifling wind. A looming dread slips into your mind, unnoticed, and you are, at once, an imposter living in your former skin. You hate reading. The idea of it renders you ill. You have contracted the worst disease known to mankind. Once you were an avid reader who needed books more than you needed food, sleep, even. Now, you are quite a vile creature who scoffs at the very mention of literature. Reader: if I dare even to address you as one, I do not like you anymore.

Though your condition is dreadful, you must not give up hope. There is a cure for your illness. You can choose to emerge from this reading rut unscathed, but the power to do so rests entirely within  yourself.

To aid you in the process, here are a couple tips that I have gathered from my own experience:

Remember: Reading is Not Stupid

There are plenty of things you could spend your time doing that are only wasting it; reading is not one of those things. Reading, letting your brain work to weave an author’s story into a film that plays in the background of your mind, is one of the most enriching pastimes that you could partake in. You’ll gain a new perspective from a book, regardless of whether it is fictitious or not. Moreover, not only does it expand your vocabulary, but it also introduces you to styles of prose of different authors, one which may particularly inspire you. There’s an entire secret world of perennial beauty for you to discover in literature. Also, reading is super cool— the more you read, the more you’ll understand discrete pop culture references that people, shows, and even songs make. For example: Iron Maiden’s song, “Rime of the Ancient Mariner”, was inspired by Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s poem of an identical title, but you wouldn’t have picked up on that without that discreet piece of literary knowledge.

Realize: You Can Never Read It All

There are billions of books out in the world, perhaps millions that are worth reading. You, a finite mortal being, could not even begin to fathom what stories and knowledge lie in books that you will never know about, let alone read. You ought to get a start on it now, if you haven’t already, of course. I recommend that you start by reading the most well-known classics first, then venturing into the more offbeat stuff. Furthermore, the fastest way to read everything you need to is to read multiple different types of books at the same time. For example: always have a fiction and a non-fiction work to pendulate between, and maybe even include a book of poetry just in case. If you wish to take this a bit further, designate different books for different settings like Rory Gilmore in Season 2, episode 7 of the Gilmore Girls, when she notoriously defends her stack of books, claiming that the biography of Edna St. Vincent Mallay is her “bus biography”, a Faulker novel her “bus novel”, and a collection of Vidal’s essays, her “lunch book.” Sounds marvelous.

Make a List 

The easiest way to convince yourself to begin reading anew is to make a list of books that you have always wanted to read but never got the chance to. Arrange them in order of decreasing immediacy. Soon enough, you’ll notice the sheer quantity of books that you have to get through in such a short amount of time (this is great, keep going). This to-read list will not only encourage you to read, it will veritably challenge you to read during every spare moment that you possess, thus putting an end to your unconscious reading strike. This method is even more effective when other people are aware of your reading goals and the rate at which you achieve them because your progress will be seen and appreciated.

Talk to a Nerd

Talking to another bookworm is another fool-proof method of getting out of a reading rut. Ask them to describe their favorite book, and listen as they rave about it and observe the way their eyes light up as they do so. Consequently, you won’t be able to help reading it for yourself. You may even envy the nerd’s level of enthusiasm about their favorite book and desire to replicate it on your own, thus doubling your new reading obligations. Soon, you’ll be making your reading comeback.

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