Have you ever had one of those days where you just don’t want to read? Or maybe it’s a week, or a month, or maybe years on end?
In the bookish community, we tend to refer to these as reading slumps. And we tend to hate them. We read posts or watch videos that give suggestions on how to get past this reading slump, we try to find books our brains will accept, we stress and worry about how we’re going to meet all the deadlines for reading that we’ve given ourselves.
But why? If we’re not in the mood to read, why are we trying to fight out way back to a place where we want to read? Is there a benefit to it, or is it just because we’ve said we’d do something and we feel that we will fail if we don’t do it?
Why do we never just take a break from reading?
I can hear your thoughts right about now. “I’ve got three ARCs that are due in the next month, and I need to get back into reading so I can do the reviews I promised!”
I’ve never gotten an ARC that didn’t give me a minimum three-week window in which to get a review up. Usually it’s a month – two weeks in either direction of the release date. And while I typically like to get a review up the day before a book is released, if I’m not in the mood to read it until closer to the date, I’ve still got some time.
Not to mention, I’m sure the people who sent you the book will understand. No matter how much it may seem like someone behind your favourite blog is a reading and posting machine, they’re still human. Publishers and humans are made up a humans too. They’re probably just as familiar with slumps as you are, and if you really weren’t able to get a review up in time, I’m sure they would understand (and if they don’t, then they’re probably jerks anyway).
Besides, are you really going to give a book a good review if you were struggling to get through it because you want to do something else the whole time?
So now that that’s out of the way, what’s the problem with taking a break from reading?
I did a four year degree in university, and over those years, I probably read six non-school books while actually at school. I would read in the summer, but I would only get through a book or two while actually studying. Why? Because I didn’t want to. Because reading is a hobby and forcing myself to do it is just going to make me hate it. When I graduated, I didn’t read anything at all for another six months. And then I read 40 books in six months and have continued a good pace since.
Taking that much time away from books didn’t mean I wasn’t a reader. It didn’t mean I would never go back to it. I just needed some time away. I had other things to do, and books just weren’t the priority. It took a while, but I made my way back, and I read 70 books in 2016.
The whole point of hobbies is that we do it because we enjoy it. We derive pleasure from the activity, and we want to do it. But if you force yourself to do something, it’s not going to be enjoyable anymore. So don’t.
Finished a book and aren’t keen on starting another? No worries! Go watch that show on Netflix, learn an instrument, lay on your bed and contemplate life, go for a walk, dance a jig, do whatever it is that you actually do want to do, and enjoy it. The books aren’t going anywhere. They’ll be there when you get back.
And honestly, I’ve found that if I don’t make a big deal out of not wanting to read, I find myself pulling another book from the shelf sooner than if I tried to force myself back into it.