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How To Conquer ‘Reader’s Block’

What to do when you feel reading has become more of a chore than a pleasure.

Every book lover encounters it at some point. You begin reading a paragraph and your mind starts to wander.

Words begin running together on the page, so you keep reading the same passages over and over until you put the book down in frustration — and not pick it up again for days or even weeks.

You start to feel like books in your favorite genre have a disheartening predictability and sameness.

Much has been written about overcoming writer’s block, but reader’s block is a very real phenomenon, too. Fortunately, there are strategies you can use to get over your reading slump to get back on track.

Break Out Of Your Comfort Zone

Most of us have a particular book genre that is a favorite. Since we are creatures of habit, when we discover books in genres or by authors we enjoy, we tend to not stray very far.

This familiarity can often led to a feeling of ennui. We feel we have “been there, read that.”

An effective way to combat this kind of literary boredom is to break out of our comfort zones by exploring other genres. If you favor fiction, try a nonfiction book. If you enjoy westerns, take a plunge into horror or science fiction.

If you are hesitant to try other genres, explore closely related subgenres of books you love. If you typically read romance, try books in the paranormal romance or historical romance categories.

Shaking up your reading routine by exploring books, authors, or genres unfamiliar to you is guaranteed to inject excitement back into your reading habit.

Let Go Of Books You Don’t Enjoy.

We avid readers tend to feel an irrational sense of obligation to finish every book we start — especially if it is a book we are not enjoying. We slog on, as if it is a moral failing on our part to stop.

We need to get over this tendency. There is no law dictating we must finish books we dislike.

There is no book jail.

We need to give ourselves permission to stop and move on, because when we try to push through, reading literally does become drudgery and a chore.

Uh-uh. Nope. Pass that sucker along to someone else who may enjoy it. Donate it to your local library. Sell it.

Learn to stop and let it go, so you can move on to your next reading adventure.

Try Out Audiobooks

Despite detractors who assert listening to audiobooks is not “real” reading, researchers disagree. A 2016 study found no discernible difference in reading comprehension between listening to audiobooks and reading via an e-reader.

Listening to audiobooks can be a dynamic way to recharge your love of discovering and consuming stories.

They are also extremely convenient. You can listen to audiobooks during commutes, at home attending to chores, exercising, running errands, or when traveling.

Revisit A Favorite

Sometimes all that is needed to banish reader’s block is revisiting a book that is very meaningful to you.

Returning to stories that inspire, move, and encourage you is a perfect way to remember why you fell in love with reading and the important place it has in your life.

Temper Your Ambitions

For many bookworms, the lengthier the book the better. This is because when we find a novel we enjoy, we want to stay immersed in the story the author has created for as long as possible.

But sometimes the prospect of cracking open a 500+ page book is intimidating and about as appealing as reading a dictionary.

It is okay to take a break from brick-heavy tomes and read something more accessible and easier to digest, like novelettes and novellas.

These much briefer stories can act as a kind of “palate cleanser” until you feel up to resuming your regular reading routine.

Read Short Story Collections

Short story collections are the underappreciated gems of the literary world.

They are often curated around similar styles, themes, genres, or authors, and are a great way to dip your toe into new literary territory without making a major commitment.

Go On A Digital Detox

With digital multimedia vying for our time and attention, reading can often take a back seat.

Reading is mainly a solitary experience requiring a considerable investment of time and concentration. It requires us to engage with books using our comprehension skills and imagination to bring stories to life.

Reading is a more active activity on our part.

Watching streaming video and surfing the web with its deluge of audio-visual stimulation is a much more passive experience. It is easy to get distracted and spend hours immersed in online entertainment, leaving time for reading by the wayside.

Going on a temporary digital media detox is an effective way to regain equilibrium and carve out precious time to fall in love with reading again.

Reader’s block afflicts most of us at some point. The good news? It is not a permanent condition. By exploring new literary frontiers, we can reclaim our love for the written word with renewed zest and enthusiasm.

Proud Blerd. I write about sci-fi, fantasy, and other areas of interest. Founder of & EYE ON SCI-FI podcast. Chocolate lover.

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