All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

On Reading Slumps & Burnout

on April 27, 2014

So I haven’t read a book in nearly a week.

For me, that’s pretty unheard of. I have read, or tried to read, nearly every day even if just for a half an hour, for the last couple of years. But the last month or so, my interest in reading has been waning a little bit. Most of the time I was having to force myself to pick up a book, or pick up my kindle and sit down and actually read something. There’s been a few exceptions – some books have arrived that I’ve been excited about and I’ve read them there and then, not waiting. So that tells me that I still have some enthusiasm for reading.

Just not a lot right now.

The last reading slump I had was after my oldest son was born. I hardly read anything until he was nearly a year old, when I originally started this blog. That was five years ago next month and since then I’ve reviewed probably close to 1000 books on here! I don’t know the exact number, maybe that’s something I should look at calculating one day. The problem is probably partially my fault – last year I read over 300 books, pretty easily so I thought I would challenge myself to do the same this year. However it didn’t take long for me to realise that while that might be okay without actively trying, attempting to keep up the pace to get to that total is pretty draining. The numbers sat there on my Goodreads challenge, kind of mocking me. Look, you’re falling behind! they said, every single time a day went by and I didn’t pick up a book. And I found that all the time I was saying to myself, go and read a book, you have to read a book, quick, read a damned book.

And in the end, I would simply refuse to read a book and pretend I couldn’t see my challenge number.

So a couple of days ago, I revised it back and immediately felt better. In fact I might revise it back even further, because the past five days I’ve barely thought about books and I’ve found myself enjoying my little holiday from reading. I read to relax normally and to enjoy myself and reading had become well, a bit of a chore. There was just a list of books I had to read at some stage to review and I would choose the slimmest book simply to get it out of the way so that I could move onto the next one. It wasn’t that I wasn’t enjoying the books themselves – in fact I’ve read some fantastic books recently and have awarded 3 5-star reviews which will be 9/10 on the blog. So the quality of books is still there. It’s just the process of sitting down to read them that was wigging me out. The process of trying to choose what to read next. I would stare at my shelves blankly until I got bored and then go and find something else to do.

And so I need to do a few things to get back to desire to read again, and love of sitting down and picking up a book. I’ve already obviously scaled my output back because I haven’t been reading so from now on I’m going to aim for just three reviews a week, probably Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. I might take up a meme again or I might try and post something once a week that isn’t really book or reading related. I’m also going to wipe out anything off my TBR pile that didn’t arrive in the last week or two because the pile is stressing me out just by being there. I may get to them at some later stage, but right now I need to have a blank shelf. I remember the days when I used to read chunky books – in fact, the bigger the book, the better it was for me. More pages equaled more value for money. I honestly haven’t read a chunkster for a long time. So I’m going to find myself a nice fat book and sit down and read it – don’t care if it takes me a month! I’m going to find something I want to read, something that has been sitting on my shelf for ages and was being ignored because fat books took too long to read. I’m going to re-read a favourite book or two. And I’m going to have days where I don’t read…and don’t care that I’m not reading.

I suppose reading slumps and/or burnouts happen to a lot of bloggers and prolific readers. I’m curious – if anyone reading this has experienced this or something like it, what did you do to get over it? Did you wait it out or implement things that you thought would help and if so….did it work?





28 responses to “On Reading Slumps & Burnout

  1. Louise Reynolds says:

    I can totally understand this, Bree. I’ve followed your blog for a long time now and love your reviews but I’ve always been amazed that you can physically read so much. And when it becomes an overwhelming chore that’s not good.Have a great rest and read for the sheer pleasure of it!!!

    • Thanks Louise! It’s funny, I actually thought I’d have more time to read this year given my oldest child went off to school. But instead the extra time seems to get directed elsewhere and I find lots of other things to do. I’m pretty hopeful that a short break will restore my desire to always be picking up a book.

  2. I’m with Louise, I’m always impressed with the volume of books you read, Bree. But definitely sounds like a good time for some rejuvenation!

    Being part of the romance writing community, I tried for a long time to keep up with all the books my friends were publishing. Each month my TBR pile grew and grew and I felt terrible that I couldn’t keep up (I’m a pretty slow reader). I asked a multi-published, multi-award winning author what she did. She assured that no-one can keep up and the stop stressing out. Made me feel so much better but I would still love to read all those fabulous books…but would probably need five lifetimes.

    • Yeah, I can imagine Jennifer – there is such a supportive romance writer community out there, it must be hard (re: impossible) to keep up with all of the releases! I think it’s important to remember never to feel obligated, whether it’s for a publisher or because they’re your friends, etc. No one can read every book!

  3. ezpat1981 says:

    I understand too, Bree. The problem with book blogging is that we start to churn out the books, forgetting why we love reading in the first place. We need to balance out all of those opportunities we have for reading great books with relaxing a bit. Im sure my TBR isn’t as large as yours but it does stress me out a bit too. I like to choose new books but tend to accumulate them faster than I can read them. Ive decided to forget numbers and go for quality reads this year. Plus I also alternate one new book with one off my shelf (online or off) so that I can get that TBR down while also picking up books that excite me.

    • Exactly! I like your idea of alternating new ones with one from the shelf – a couple of times I have tried to implement something like that but my shelf is so huge (I have 2x TBR bookcases) that sometimes I find it just takes me far too long to choose an older book, lol. Going for quality sounds like an excellent idea. I know sometimes I read books that I know I will probably just find “okay” simply because they’re quick, ignoring the longer books that will probably be better reads. Definitely time to stop doing that.

  4. Lily Malone says:

    It sounds to me like you have a good plan. Take the ‘work’ out of reading by thinning out the TBR and scaling back the Goodreads challenge. Re-reading a favourite might help too. I can’t compare on the reading and reviewing side of it, but can definitely identify with the various ‘writing blocks’ I’ve had. I think the idea of reading a little bit a day is a good one. Good luck. It’s footy season too and you’re mad on the Swans… there are lots of other things going on.

    • Haha SWANNIES! And my main man is back, was pretty darn fabulous watching him run out onto the field on Saturday night. I used to read every day when my youngest had his day nap but he doesn’t nap anymore (*sob*) so that reading time is sometimes taken up with playing trains or watching Paw Patrol or going to the park, lol. All good, valuable things to be doing but it made it harder to fit reading in and I found the days disappearing and the books piling up! Clearing them out and moving them on to another pile has certainly helped. I feel like I’m starting from scratch now and it feels much easier definitely more relaxing.

  5. Sonya Heaney says:

    Reread favourites. That’s what I’m doing.

    It seems pretty much EVERYONE is going through a reading slump at the moment.
    I think it has a lot to do with the lack of originality in a lot of genres at the moment. Instead of trying new ideas, it seems a lot of authors are just trying to cash in on successful books by copying them.
    For example, I was looking through review books the other day, and I swear, every second book in the romance genre was about a wedding planner who got pregnant at her brother’s wedding! Ugh!
    And if I read “Navy SEAL” in one more book blurb, I swear I’m going to scream. I love action books, but geez.

    • Sonya Heaney says:

      *How many times do I want to type ‘at the moment’ in one comment…!?*

      • I’m going to read one of the Stephanie Plum books (when they were good, not the last 7-8 or so) – I remember how much I was obsessed by that series a decade or more ago and how I used to LIVE for the release date each year. I have still been reading them but they’re so unenjoyable now that I need to go back to earlier and remember how wonderful they used to be. I used to re-read a lot but as the books piled up, there was less and less time for old favourites until there was no time at all.

        Ugh, Navy SEALs! I hear you. They’re everywhere.

  6. writenote1 says:

    Bree, thanks for sharing your thoughts here. I can relate. One of the things I have kept in my mind since I started book blogging was that it could never feel like an obligation or a chore. I do this because I love reading, that’s all. I have a husband, four kids at home, a love of cooking and I work two jobs, so my reviewing has to come in after that. For that reason, I don’t get caught up on scheduling reviews and feeling like I must do them in a set time (unless I’ve specifically agreed to). I’ve learnt to say no to books I’m not interested in, to be up front with publishers about the fact that it might take a while before I get to their book. That was hard at first because I worried that if I said no to a book, the publishers wouldn’t ask again!

    Some of the things I do to try and maintain balance is:
    * I rarely review books I’m sent unsolicited. Often they are not books I’d have chosen and it would feel like a chore to read. Sometimes I’ll give these books a Sunday Shout Out so they at least get a mention, but if I don’t, I don’t get hung up on it.
    * I read the book I feel like reading at that moment, not necessarily the next in line.
    * I keep a stash of books on my shelf that I have bought/borrowed that I read when I need a break from reviewing. Sometimes I just want to read a book and that’s it. That’s when I grab one of these, read, enjoy and then move on. Or, I re-read a much-loved book.
    * I say no to books I am not at all interested in. (Having said that, I see so many I am interested in that I have to have some self-discipline!)

    We all have these slumps, even when it comes to things we love. But if we’re kind to ourselves, allow the rest and don’t put the pressure on, we will come back to what we love. That’s how I see it. A break is good. I think you’re doing the right thing.

    • I think you’ve mentioned some really good points here and some of them I have a problem with – I’m really bad at saying no to books that don’t interest me if they’re pitched by someone I know and communicate with regularly, lol. Sometimes I end up with books I don’t really want simply because it was easier to say yeah, sure send it! This does work out well at times – I find a book that I love that I didn’t really think I would. Other times….not so well.

      I never used to schedule my reading either but then I started feeling more in control when I did so I made a list of books by their release date and worked through them – usually I picked the one I felt like reading the most, but within the confines of dates. I definitely need to go back to reading just whatever I feel like it, whenever. And making time for re-reads. For example, I’ve been wanting to re-read the Anne series by L.M Montgomery for a couple of years now but it’s always been pushed aside for new books. I recently got them all for my Kindle so I’m going to get started on them soon and not worry about infringing on the TBR pile or how long it might take.

  7. michelletw says:

    Great post Bree, and a well deserved break. I am in a bit of a slump too but I can put that down to all the things going on at home and trying to get into a new routine.
    Enjoy some fabulous quality reading. 🙂

    • Ha you deserve a break – you just had a gorgeous new baby and I’m sure he takes up a lot of your time! Hopefully your new routine works out for you. Routines always worked for me but I know that different babies need and like different things, etc. Hopefully you get stuck back into a good book soon! Until then, enjoy your little man x

  8. Bree – I agree with what a lot of the people above have said. Reading SHOULD NEVER be a chore so I’m glad you’re taking a well deserved break! Sometimes I feel like that with writing – that I HAVE to write because I have contracts, deadlines etc, and I think when I write in those moods it comes across in the writing. I’m not enjoying it. I’m not FEELING it. Like you have recently I start quite a lot of books that I simply don’t get into and I think that’s often the mood I’m in more than the book. The bonus of this is that when you do find a book that grabs you again, it is SUCH a thrill.

    • I’m surprised how much the break is working for me and how much I’m enjoying not feeling like it’s something I need to do. I read a book yesterday because it interested me and as you know, I’m planning to start A Game of Thrones! I’ve owned the first 4 boxset for 2.5 years I think. I bought it because I’d borrowed the first one from the library but only read 80-100p before I had to take it back. I was really enjoying it but even though I bought it, I never got around to actually reading my own copies! And I want to watch the TV series but I always said I wouldn’t do that until I’d read the books, lol.

  9. geckogirlreads says:

    Yep have definitely had ups and downs with reading, With me it also seems to be effected by health (headaches etc, issues with focusing for any length of time) but if I don’t try and force it I usually get back into it again

  10. Everyone needs a break now and then, I can certainly empathise. You have to make blogging work for you, otherwise it becomes, well work!

    • Exactly and that’s what it was feeling like. I would sit down to write a review and have to force myself not to look up from the page until it was done because I knew that if I strayed for a second, that’d be it, lol. I wouldn’t be back, I’d just shelve it and say stuff it, I’ll do it another day. I have to take advantage of the few good days we have left down here and get out and do things before the weather makes it too hard! There’ll be time for reading when it’s 12 degrees and bucketing with rain!

  11. Have been there often, Bree, and what you’re doing to recapture the simple joy of reading is the best thing you can do. I think it must be inevitable whenever we turn reading into something serious, like blogging and reviewing for publishers etc. It’s always awful when you burn out and it becomes a chore (reading and blogging, but especially reading), but the important thing is to just give yourself some slack and remove the stress.

    Lately I hardly read anything for myself at all – I’ve got so much work to do preparing for my class and reading things specifically for it, that all my brain wants to do when I have time for myself is veg in front of My Kitchen Rules! I’ve just had to say to myself, That’s okay, you’ll get your reading mojo back again when things settle down, you’ll find a new balance. And I try never to think about the nearly 2 thousand books I haven’t read off my shelves! Eek. (that’s why!)

    I think we’ve swapped sentiments over this before, but your comment about chunksters being “value for money” is so true of me too! When I was a teenager and into fantasy (like that was ALL I read on my own), I would rather spend my hard-earned *ahem* Youth Allowance $20 on a big fat fantasy novel than some slim novel or other. These days I shy away from the chunksters, even though I still buy them, because I feel I don’t have the patience for the length and slowness of them, I’ll get bored and irritated with how long it’s taking and it will spoil it all. I love the idea of relishing that length and slowness again.

    It’s true that the numbers (challenges etc.) and the responsibility of running a book blog inhibits our love of reading. Sometimes it revitalises us and motivates us and gives us a sense of excitement, but then we hit a wall and have to scale it back big time. Nothing wrong with that. We’re all so hard on ourselves aren’t we! I’d rather my blogging friends take a break, ease back, rediscover the joy of reading etc. and still post now and then so I can keep chatting, than vanish altogether. That’s my selfish side of course! (“At least we still have Facebook” ha ha – not the same at all is it?)

    Hope you find the right balance, Bree.

    • I hope you’re enjoying your new job and all the reading you have to do for it!

      Yes, I totally remember buying and borrowing from the library the biggest books I could find. I didn’t have much money (youth allowance as well!) and my Nan passed on all of her books to me or occasionally I splurged on one myself. And I always made sure I picked the biggest one I could find that still sounded interesting. Recently my book club’s book of the month was Wolf Hall, by Hilary Mantel. Usually we have a 400p limit, which that one exceeded and I’d already tried to read it once before and failed. I gave it another go but it was the wrong time – I was sick with the flu and my kids had croup and the flu as well and I was so bored by how long it was taking for anything to happen and how everything felt so verbose. Mind you I only got like, a dozen pages into it the second time! I might’ve had more patience for it had I not been sick. 10 years ago I probably would’ve devoured it. Now I just chuck it aside and pick up something smaller!

      Totally agree with what you say about challenges and numbers! Often they’re really inspiring – challenges often ensure that I seek out really different books to read and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t love the fact that I always read a lot of books each year. I love reading and I exploring worlds through books but yeah – there comes a time where it is like hitting a wall. I have hit the wall and crashed and now I’m picking myself up and putting it all back together!

      I don’t think I’ll ever vanish completely – I don’t see myself ever -not- reading. But I definitely think there will be ebbs and flows. I had a pretty long run and now, this is a bit of a quiet time. But I see books, I get excited by them so I know I’ll be back into it!

  12. Yep! I’ve had the same struggle over the past few months Bree. I set myself a ridiculously high goal on Goodreads too and then felt overwhelmed when I got behind. Avoidance then set in and my love for reviewing was damaged as the result.
    Thankfully, revising my goal to just one book a week and hence one review a week has released the stress (self-imposed) and I feel much more positive about continuing with my blog now… Even if my posts aren’t as frequent nowadays. I’m also more stringent about what I accept for review!

    Don’t be too hard on yourself Bree, I’m sure you’ll feel more positive once you’ve had a break from the slush pile and just read those books you really want to read when you want to.

  13. Marg says:

    I would have some words of wisdom for you, except as you know I have just taken a month to read only one book so it would appear I am in pretty much the same place as you are! I have just had my worst reading/blogging month in 10 years!

  14. […] month but I did hit quite a bit of a wall mid-to-late in the month which led me to write my post on Reading Slumps and Burnout! Since then I have set about implementing a few things to help me get my reading mojo back and so […]

  15. sally906 says:

    Can totally relate. I am not actually slumped but getting very stressed and close to it. Is my own fault I have accepted way more review books than I can actually read so because I give them priority my personal reading doesn’t happen, so reading becomes a chore instead of a joy. Even though 90% of my review books are great there is still that feeling of having to read it NOW because it is being released! Due to 3 long weekends in a row I am just about caught up, and now I am only going to accept one or two or 3 if a must read author comes out. Already I feel better 🙂

    I remember about 8 years ago I did 35 reading challenges – was totally burned out that year and now I keep it down to about 5 – I am too obsessed to be allowed to do more LOL!

  16. […] around this time last year where I suffered a pretty big reading slump – which I documented here. To be honest I partially blame the return of Game Of Thrones. I read the books last year actually […]

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