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Words and pictures curated by Chela Yego

So it’s time to read – you take your book out, sit down and try to read but just can’t. You try again – but often get distracted. Meanwhile, your TBR (to-be-read) list is growing. Behold, you have fallen into a book slump – a crippling feeling when your willingness to read is high but you just cannot get into it. Book slumps happen to almost all readers at some point and it is not a pleasant feeling. A book slump could last anytime from a few days to even months.

Why You’re In a Book Slump 

  1. The book is boring. Sometimes you dwell on a book but it’s just boring and dampens your desire to read. Don’t be pressured to continue a book you’re finding hard to read just because it has 5-star reviews and everyone claims it’s the book of the century. 
  2. Heavy themes. Reading books with heavy themes like death, war or grief are really hard to forget as they cloud your mind even days after you’ve finished the book.  
  3. Exhaustion. Sometimes life happens and so much is going on that reading is impossible. At a time when I was working 2 jobs while also keeping up with school work, I badly wanted to escape into the world of literature. You need to be able to recognize when you have competing priorities which limit the time you can allocate to reading. 

How to Get Out of a Book Slump

  • Try re-reading your comfort book. This could help stir up your love for reading. My comfort books are: The Fault In Our Stars by John Read and Tulip Fever by Deborah Moggach. When I feel like I’m falling into a slump, I re-read my favourite parts of either of them. You don’t have to go through the entire book, you can just focus on the snippets you loved.
  • Take a break. Sometimes when you’re tired of reading, the best thing to do is step away and take a break. Your books will still be there after you rest.
  • Join a book club. Book clubs bring people together to read a chosen text over a specific period. The idea is that it motivates you to finish the book so you can discuss it with other club members. Some book clubs you could join are:

The Soma Nami Book Club hosted by the bookstore, Soma Nami 

The TBC Book Club hosted by Text Book Centre

Chasing Paper Book Club hosted by Patricia Kihoro and Sharon Mundia

Lit Avengers Literary Salon hosted by Sarah Ozo-Irabor

Noname Reads hosted by Noname

  • Read a short story or poem. Whether it’s from a published anthology or on literature websites, short stories and poems pack a punch! A short text is quicker to read so could help accelerate your pace and drive you out of your book slump. A few short stories or poems to get in to:

Skinned‘ by Lesley Nneka Arimah 

There, in That Place of God‘ by Rene Odanga 

After the Birds‘ by Ope Adedeji

‘Teaching My Mother How To Give Birth’ by Warsan Shire

‘The Tradition’ by Jericho Brown

‘Bone’ by Yrsa Daley Ward

‘Talking Drums’ edited by Veroique Tadjo

  • Listen to a literature podcast. On podcasts you can find deep dives of themes, author interviews or book recommendations, which may be just the thing you need to get out of the slump. Some of my favourite literature podcasts are:

The New Yorker Fiction‘ by the New Yorker fiction editor, Deborah Treisman.

100 on Books‘ by Nyambura ‘Mike’ Mutanyi 

Books and Rhymes‘ by Sarah Ozo-Irabor

Books and Wine, The Podcast‘ hosted by Wendy Marube

  • Read a comic, a graphic novel or children’s picture book. Yes, this still counts as reading! Reading should be a fun experience, don’t limit yourself to any genre or style. 
  • For those with Kindle or the Kindle app, try the Kindle Word Runner. Word Runner presents text on the screen at a pace of your choice so all you have to do is sit and stare as you read. No scrolling, no flipping! Find more on Kindle Word Runner here. You can also read Kindle Samples to try a book before you fully commit. 
  • Listen to an audiobook. What’s better than having a story narrated to you? This is a good option especially for people who don’t have time to sit and hold a book – you can have the book read to you as you do other things. Check out Scribd and Audible for numerous audiobook options.
  • Take a trip to the bookstore. Seeing attractive book covers and sitting in cute book nooks can be the perfect remedy for an enduring book slump.

How to Avoid a Book Slump

Although book slumps are a normal part of a reader’s life, there are ways to keep them at bay. Firstly, if you find yourself reading a boring book, drop it immediately. Forcing yourself to continue with books you’re struggling with will only waste your time and dampen your reading spirit. Secondly, take breaks in between reading books. You don’t need to hop on to a new book as soon as you finish one – pace yourself. Finally, connect with the digital book community. Between #bookstagram, #booktok and Book Twitter, engaging with content about books can get you excited and motivated to read again.

Anyone currently in a book slump? Share your thoughts below.

Chela Yego is a visual artist, art director and book reviewer. She has been reviewing and recommending books since 2018. Through blogging about books, Chela seeks to help more people discover the joy of reading. Her art is inspired by her love for literature and the desire to document her everyday life through illustration and collage.

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