Bookworm Problems: Reading Slumps

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It’s perhaps one of the worst things that can happen to a bookworm. A reading slump.

For the last month or so I’ve been stuck in a pretty bad slump. I have many books on my to be read pile which, is taller than me, and I want to read them. I really want to. When I sit down to do just that, what happens? Nothing. I can’t focus. I can’t get into the story. Take away the usual challenges us bookworms face (unable to get comfortable, bad lighting, etc) and multiple those things and their frustration by a thousand and you will have entered the frustration of a reading slump.

So, below are some ways I’ve found that help break out of a reading slump. While none of these are fool proof and my slump isn’t over yet let me tell you I’m much more ready to settle in with a good book now than I was this past weekend when I resorted to doing nearly all of these things.

  1. Switch Genres
    This one is simple. If you’ve been reading about witches and wizards but can’t get into the next fantasy series or part of a current series take a break! I know for me this is difficult, especially if happens mid-series (I always feel obligated to read start to finish, no other books in between) but lately this is the trap I’ve fallen into. So, while I liked Leigh Bardugo’s first book in the Grisha Series, Shadow and Bone I had a hard time getting into it. The writing is good, the plot is interesting but I’d been so far into the fantasy realm lately that I didn’t recognize that I needed a break from it.
  2. Read something light
    Sometimes, if switching genres doesn’t work, I find reading a novella (whether from the same genre or different) will metaphorically wet my whistle and get me excited to read more ASAP. I found this particularly effective when reading the Selection Series by Kiera Cass. The novellas in between the books (The Prince, The Guard, The Queen and The Favorite) were exactly what I needed when I was in between the actual books and trying to get into the next one. Not only did they give a bit more about the characters from the main story but it made me even more intrigued by the main story line which, as an author, is exactly what you want readers to feel.
  3. Read reviews
    This is huge for me and sometimes this will make or break a slump. If I see someone raving about a new book my interest is piqued. When I see many people freaking out over the same? Well, the old adage of “How can X number of people be wrong?” stands true here. If I see a high average rating on GoodReads and a lot of in depth, fun reviews, I’m more likely to pick up that book and dive right in.
  4. Re-read an old favorite
    Sometimes you need to remember why you love reading. I mean, we all know it’s amazing and a great way to spend your time. However, when you’re in a slump you’re often discouraged about books and reading in general. In my case I feel guilty that I’m not reading with so many books on my pile (and reviews to write for this blog). So, sometimes you need to reset and go back. For me sometimes it’s Harry Potter. Other times I’ve gone way back and read The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton because I distinctly remember reading this book twice in one day.
  5. Switch up how you read
    Sometimes holding a physical book is part of the problem. If you can’t get comfortable you might give up. Try an e-reader. Try an audio book. Anyway to get the story in your mind and refocus on the love of storytelling  will sometimes be enough to snap you out of it.
  6. Get some recommendations
    Whether you go on GoodReads, ask a librarian, ask a bookstore associate or turn to a trusted friend (I’m looking at you, Kate) sometimes you just need someone to push a book in your hands and say “this one.” And, most of the time, those people are right.
  7. Watch a book based movie or show
    Whether you watch the 2016 movie Girl on the Train, the Netflix series 13 Reasons Why, or any number of the books turned cable TV show (Pretty Little Liars, Recovery Road, Shadowhunters, etc) sometimes you just need the visual handed to you. I know plenty of people out there think like me and say “I can’t watch that until I read the book first.” Well, if you’re in a book slump, when exactly do you think you’ll get to the show or movie?
  8. Set the mood
    Mood is important. Have a reading chair or, in my case, nest. Have water, tea, coffee and snacks near by. Make sure the room you’re in is at a comfortable temperature. If you like it cold so you can be under a blanket while you read, open the window or lower the temperature in your home. If you like it warmer, sans blanket, dress warm and cozy or raise the temperature. Make sure the lighting is exactly how you like it.  Most importantly, don’t let other distractions enter your mind. Put your phone aside (or turn it on silent mode). Play soft music. Whatever you need to enjoy your much deserved down time.
  9. Focus on your goal
    If you’ve set a reading goal for the year (like I have) sometimes you need to remind yourself of that. And while you can’t force yourself out of a slump sometimes focusing on the goal can help. For me, despite my reading slump, I have promised myself to read for at least twenty minutes a day. Some days it’s a struggle and some days I’ve found myself reading well beyond those twenty minutes, if only to finish the chapter.
  10. Reorganize your shelves
    For me this is a last resort kind of thing. Generally that’s because I’m very…let’s call it particular, about how my shelves are organized. While I love the color coded shelves or genre specific shelves you see on Instagram and other social media platforms I just can’t bring myself to do it. For me, reorganizing generally means going through and pulling out the books I think I’ll want to read next, dusting off my shelves and enjoying my extremely tall to be read pile. While my friends and family are visibly concerned at such a pile, for me it is a physical representation of a challenge to myself. And I never turn down a reading challenge.

What are your tips for getting over a reading slump? Anything that always works for you? Let us know in the comments below!

Moving As A Bookworm: Packing

Moving is hard. There’s no way around it. No matter how many times I do it, no matter how far in advance I start, I always wind up stressed and buried in teetering towers of boxes. But moving as a bookworm poses its own problems.

Books awesome! But they’re also heavy and take up a lot of space. One of my shelves had books stacked two layers deep. Another was bowed under the weight. And that doesn’t even count all of the books I’ve left in weird places.

Okay, so here’s the breakdown. As far as shelves go, I have one regular standing shelf, one of those little cubby hole shelves sold at WalMart, and five wall mounted shelves from Home Depot, each one roughly six feet long. Needless to say, these hold a lot of books. But, of course, that wasn’t all the books I needed to pack.
I’m pretty sure books just spawn new books. No matter how tidy I try to keep my shelves books just seem to spill off them and onto anything and everything in the general vicinity. End tables, the bar, the floor, hell, the top of the microwave. I’ve found books pretty much everywhere you could think of.

Under normal circumstances this would be funny, but with no real consequence. But when moving, this is frustrating to say the least. Twice now I’ve thought that I was finally finished packing books only to find more in a very weird place. At fifteen boxes I started packing the glasses beneath the bar where three books (an illustrated copy of Black Beauty, a book on proper gardening techniques, and a coffee table book) were tucked between the side of the bar and a wine decanter. My husband took a couple books he wanted to read (King Lear and The Queue by Basma A., Aziz) and left them on his work bench beneath a box of EL wire. And the nightstand pile. I thought I had a very under control stack of books on my night stand. Turns out there were seven, not counting the book I found beneath the boxes of contact lenses on my dresser.

Have I found all of them? Maybe? At this point I’m not confident anymore. I have an open box beneath my desk half full of books just in case, and fully expect it to be full by the time I move.

But the worst part about moving as a bookworm?

All my books are gone! The shelves are empty, and stacked against one wall. All my books are packed into boxes where I can’t get at them. Every time I look at the wall where all my books used to be I get a little sad. And to add insult to injury, I don’t even have time to read the books I have access to. Between packing up my apartment and fixing up the house my husband and I are moving into, our days are pretty full. I think I’m suffering book withdrawal.

We haven’t actually moved yet, so it will be some time before I get my lovely book collection back. Even then, it’ll be a while before they’re all unpacked. Between my mother in law moving out of the house we’re moving into and a general spring (summer?) cleaning, there just won’t be room to unpack for a while. I’ll have my Kindle, of course, but there really isn’t anything like a physical book. Stay tuned for an account of how I’m coping, or not coping, with minimalistic book living.

What are your experiences of moving as a bookworm? Let us know in the comments below!

Throwback Thursday: Dead Beat (The Dresden Files #7)

Dead Beat(The Dresden Files #7)
By: Jim Butcher
Release Date: May 2nd, 2006
Publisher: Roc Books
Series: The Dresden Files

There are certain things that Harry Dresden cannot, and will not, abide by. Threatening his friends (in this case, Karrin Murphy) is one of them. Another, is necromancy. But, when his arm is twisted into finding the lost information on an old necromancy spell that could rip the world in half the blackmail on Murphy is too much and Harry must make a deal with what he feels may be the closest thing to the devil, a Black Court vampire named Mavra.

Review: Damned

By: Chuck Palahniuk
Release Date: October 18th, 2011
Publisher: Doubleday Canada

When you think of Chuck Palahniuk I’m sure most people think of perhaps his most well known work, Fight Club, which I understand, given how well written it is and what a hit the move became. But, let’s look at another work of his that is just as sharp and witty to read as Fight Club. I might not have loved it as much, and it seems many fans agree, but still the book is worth the read if you can get into it.

Review – Revolutionary Girl Utena Vol. 1 by Chiho Saito

Revolutionary Girl Utena Vol. 1
By: Chiho Saito
Release Date: March 23, 2017
Publisher: VIZ Media; Shojo Beat
Series: Revolutionary Girl Utena #1

Sometimes there’s a book I just need. The gorgeous boxed set of Revolutionary Girl Utena was exactly that. I’ll be honest. I’m low-key obsessed with the anime of the same name. I watch it from start to finish a few times a year. Despite this, I never read the manga. Well, now’s my chance! This is the first volume in a two volume boxed set by Be-Papas, the creative collective behind Revolutionary Girl Utena, and Chiho Saito, the mangaka.

And who can resist a beautiful hardcover edition of a manga?

Review – Lady Mechanika Vol 3: The Lost Boys of West Abbey

Lady Mechanika Vol. 3: The Lost Boys of West Abbey
By: M. M. Chen; Joe Benitez
Release Date: May 16, 2017
Publisher: Benitez Productions
Series: Lady Mechanika #3
Received From: Publisher
(All reviews are our own, honest opinions.)

It wasn’t too long ago that I discovered the Lady Mechanika graphic novel series, and its one I’ve come to look forward to reading each time I find a new volume. When I had the opportunity to read an early copy of Lady Mechanika Vol. 3: The Lost Boys of West Abbey by M.M. Chen and Joe Benitez, I jumped on it.

#ThrowbackThursday Review – Wanted by Matsuri Hino

By: Matsuri Hino
Translator: Low Sin Lu
Release Date: (Original Japanese) 2005; (English) September 2, 2008
Publisher: VIZ Media

I have been on a manga buying/reading spree lately. I’m a little late to the manga scene, at least compared to my husband, and have been trying to make up for it by picking up more or less every old manga I find at used book sales. Wanted by Matsuri Hino was one such purchase. That’s right. This is a standalone manga from the creator of Vampire Knight.

Review: 45 Pounds (More or Less)

45 Pounds (More or Less)
By: K.A. Barson
Release Date: July 11, 2013
Publisher: Viking Juvenile

Fat. It sounds like a dirty word, doesn’t it? It’s something you shouldn’t call someone or, heaven forbid, even say in front of someone who isn’t the societal norm of the perfect weight. In this book we see how one teenager takes on this word, her own body and, most importantly, her view of herself, to become the person she feels she needs to be.

#MangaMonday Review – Ocean of Secrets Vol. 1 by Sophie-chan

Ocean of Secrets Volume 1
By: Sophie-chan
Release Date: May 16, 2017
Publisher: TokyoPop
Series: Ocean of Secrets #1
Received From: Publisher
(All reviews are our own, honest opinions.)

It’s no secret that I love manga. So when I had the opportunity to review a copy of a new manga I’d never heard of before, of course I jumped on it. Ocean of Secrets, Volume 1 is a brand new series by the mangaka Sophie-chan. The cover was full of pretty purples, and drew my eye to it immediately. This volume will be released on May 16, 2017, just a little over a week from now.

Throwback Thursday: Blood Rites (The Dresden Files #6)

Blood Rites (The Dresden Files #6)
By: Jim Butcher
Release Date: August 3rd, 2004
Publisher: Roc Books
Series: The Dresden Files

When White Court Vampire Thomas Raith joins Harry on an errand (well, a  rescue mission) to save stolen puppies (yes, stolen puppies) Harry thinks his night is interesting enough. Add in gorrilla demons and it’s another thing entirely. Things only get weirder when one of the puppies stows away in Harry’s car. He’s amused but also alarmed as the dog, while a great security system which alerts him to an attack by the Black Court, Harry really doesn’t know what to do with the puppy. Let’s just say Mister doesn’t approve of the new house guest. And this, like always, is just the start to Harry’s next insane adventure. And boy is this book a doozy.