Has it been awhile since you last picked up that book on your nightstand? Or tuned back into that audiobook you started over the summer? It’s OK. Even the most voracious readers occasionally hit a reading slump.
Maybe you’ve been short on time, struggling with your attention span, busy with work or kids, or swept up in other life events. Maybe you’ve slipped into the all-too-easy habit of watching Netflix before bed every night instead (even though we know reading helps you sleep better).
Sometimes the idea of picking up a book feels like too much of an effort. We get it. But there are compelling incentives to breaking the slump and getting back into a reading routine. Benefits like reduced stress, increased emotional intelligence, and even a longer life may inspire you.
Plus — forgive us if we’re preaching to the choir — reading is a fantastic form of entertainment. It can be fun, soothing, informative, relaxing, thrilling, and inspiring — sometimes all in one book.
If you’re ready to get back into reading after a break, try these four tips.
1. Pick a format that works for you.
There are many different ways to read, so don’t feel like you’re stuck doing something that doesn’t work for you.
Listen to an audiobook as you sit in traffic. Open up your Scribd app and read for a few minutes on your lunch break or while standing in line to order lunch. Enjoy your ebook with a cup of tea when you're winding down before bed.
Pick a format and time that suits your lifestyle.
2. Start small and develop a habit.
If you’re trying to get back into a groove, don’t start with a goal to read War and Peace in one weekend.
Instead, start with something small, something you feel confident you can get through. Think beyond novels, and try short stories, a collection of poetry, or graphic novels — options that require less of a time commitment to complex or have defined breaks that offer a sense of accomplishment. Start by reading five minutes or five pages a day, then work your way up. If that feels like too much, read for one minute or one page. Baby steps count!
If you really want to make it stick, combine your reading time with a habit you already have in place. For example, keep your book in the kitchen next to the coffee maker. Every morning as you’re making your morning brew, read a few pages.
Want to learn more about the power of small actions? Check out BJ Fogg’s book, Tiny Habits: The Small Changes That Change Everything.
3. Choose wisely.
This one can be a little trickier because it requires some introspection. But if you can pick a book that fills a need or want in your life, you’ll increase your chances of sticking with it.
Some examples to get you thinking:
- If you’re stuck at home, maybe you want an escape. Try an epic fantasy.
- If you’re starting a new hobby, try a relevant how-to book.
- If you’re feeling stressed, having a good laugh can help. Grab a comedy.
Don’t know what you need? No worries. Pick up whatever sounds appealing in the moment — no rationale required. (If you’re still struggling to make your selection, check out these tips for choosing a good book.)
4. Recruit reading support.
Sometimes, we just need a little support to get us going.
Find a book club, join a read-along on Instagram, or ask if a friend or family member wants to read with you. Making it a fun, social endeavor can help you shake the dust off that book and end your reading slump.
About the Author: Kelsey Fritts
Kelsey is a writer, editor, anthropologist, and bookworm. She's also the author of two young adult fantasy novels. When she's not out exploring in nature or playing with her ridiculously spoiled dog, you can find Kelsey curled up with a mug of hot cocoa and a novel—likely one by Laini Taylor, Leigh Bardugo, N.K. Jemisin, Margaret Atwood, or Ursula K. Le Guin.