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Reading Slump as Defined by a Burnt Out Gifted Kid

Whether your reading slump has been the past month or the past three years, there is always a way to get yourself back into reading if you want to. When you were in middle school maybe you could go to the library, pick up a 150 page paperback and read it in one sitting. Maybe when you started high school you had to read more academically and didn’t have as much time to read for fun. But maybe you still read late into the night with the lamp on. But then when you got into college or started working a full time job you ~really~ didn’t have time to read anymore. And maybe you didn’t want to read Percy Jackson because you were getting too old for it anyways but you didn’t want to read Danielle Steele or Eat Pray Love it up because you weren’t -that- old. And maybe now you’re 25, suffering burnt out gifted kid syndrome, and watching Friends re-runs and haven’t picked up a book for fun in years. I’ve been there, you’ve been there, and maybe we’re all still there but not talking about it.

If we all love reading and used to be able to easily escape into a fantasy world with upside down rules, why is it so hard to just pick up a book and enjoy it? Maybe there’s a mental block telling us it’s something that we only -used- to be good at like solving matrices or writing a five paragraph analysis or getting up at 5:30 to curl your hair, get on the bus by 6:45 and start class at 8:15 with no breakfast. Or maybe we’re stuck in a limbo between young adult (which we are just adults that happen to be young but not the YA you read in the sixth grade kind of YA) and modern adult contemporary where every main character just got left by her husband. We’re in this stage of life and everything is new and strange and grand and how could a book capture the immense complicated emotions of new adulthood. Maybe a book could do just that, and maybe it doesn’t even need to. Or maybe all of this only applies to me and my personal stop and go journey with reading and growing up. The underlying feeling that we can all relate to is that sometimes we feel like reading for fun and sometimes we don’t and that’s okay.

There is no cure-all for a reading slump. There’s no way to automatically pull yourself out of it and start reading five books a month. But there are things that can make reading seem less like an impossible task and more like something you look forward to doing when you have a break.

There are truly no books you ~have~ to read, you don’t have to read “Crime and Punishment” before you’re 30 to prove yourself to some imaginary judge. No book is for everybody and no person is for every book. If you read books that make you feel good and think outside of your everyday bubble that is all you need. You can always try new genres and authors and expand your scope. You don’t have to read all the classics or read 50 books a year to call yourself a reader. Just read what you enjoy and think about it. With that being said, the first thing I do when I've been in a reading slump for a little bit longer than awhile is to pick a book that I already know I love. There’s a book I read over and over again in the eighth grade and I still absolutely love it. When I open the first page I’m not just transported into the imaginary world but this feeling washes over me of staying up too late before a school day. I am glowing with excitement and the feeling has never changed in the 15+ years since I read it the first time. I will never get tired of the plot twists that aren’t twisted anymore, or the cliffhangers over a shallow pool. If you can find that book for you, you will always have something to read. I think it’s just important to rekindle that feeling that reading is fun and remind yourself there are pieces of paper with words written on them that can make you laugh out loud, and yell, and cry and sometimes all at the same time. Something positive that came out of quarantine was that a lot of people had time to go back to the middle school special interests. It brought a resurgence of millennial classics (did anyone else pick up Twilight for the first time in ten years?)

Maybe you don’t have a lot of down time and when you do, you absolutely do not want to do a thing like reading. Maybe the solution to this is listening to an audiobook, and maybe it’s not. I found it to be an acquired taste. I thought the readers’ accents were distracting and the pace was too slow and then too fast and it was too difficult to just focus on what they were saying. But when you let it all go and the pieces line up, listening to an audiobook can be like having a friend with you while you commute to work, walk the dog, or go for a jog. Listening to an audiobook can remove the barrier of having to solely focus on one activity at a time. If you have a long drive to work, listening to a book can make that time go by like a breeze. Also audiobooks can be very accessible through your local library. Through my library I can use the Libby and Hoopla apps and it is so easy to find the books I want and listen to them in the allotted time.

There’s a tip to learning anything new that you should immerse yourself. Like when learning Spanish, speaking to other beginners in a classroom can only take you so far. So maybe the same is true for getting out of a reading slump and trying something new. Something that could help you and also be really fun is go out to a bookstore or the library and just see what sticks out to you. When you immerse yourself in books and a place you don’t usually go to you could find out something new to you. You might see a cover or title that looks interesting to you, or maybe there’s a recommendation board that sounds good. You never know what could be out there until you go out there yourself! Try it and if it doesn’t work no one is going to force you to do it ever again.

The last thing I can say about getting out of a reading slump is just go for it. If you’ve seen a lot of people talking about one book but you have no idea what it's about, why not just dive in with no expectations? The worst that can happen is you learned a little bit more about books you don’t like. The best that can happen is you found a book that you absolutely love and even better, it's the first in a series so now you have so many new books to read. Maybe that author has another series that’s really good and you read that. And now you’re going down a rabbit hole of books you never expected to like and things aren’t as bad as you thought it would be.

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