Remedy a Reading Slump: 10 Ideas For When You’re Having Trouble Reading

“Music and Literature,” oil on canvas, by the American artist
William Michael Harnett (1878)

Being a bookworm is great, but it’s not always a smooth process. You’ll probably agree with me on this. Haven’t we all experienced a reading slump at some time or another?

Every so often I find myself struggling to make time for books, or I simply find it difficult to turn as many pages as I used to. You may remember me admitting that my obsessive-compulsive tendencies can get in the way of my reading, too.

Here are some ideas I use to get back on track when I’m having trouble reading.

1. Listen to an audiobook

Audiobooks are brilliant to listen to before bed, during exercise, or when you’re pottering around the house tidying, cooking or gardening. When I find myself struggling to make sense of a book, or re-reading lines over and over again, I know it’s time to try an audiobook.

2. Pick something you think is too lighthearted and easy to read

I’m guilty of thinking that some novels are too easy to read, or even too lighthearted and enjoyable. Therefore, every so often I challenge myself to pick up a novel purely because I like the sound of it, rather than for reasons of educating myself.

3. Try a speed reading app

If I’m reading for pleasure and can’t get into a book, I’ll usually stop after the 50 page mark, but if I have to get through it – say for university – speed reading apps can be superb.

There has been a lot in the media about Spritz, an upcoming speed reading tool, and they’ve recently made their ‘Spritzlet‘ available to add to your bookmarking bar and read articles online.

Also, you can use a Chrome extenstion called Spreed, or upload files and PDFs to Readsy.

One of my favourite reading hacks is to use a speed reading Chrome extension for online ebooks (ebooks@Adelaide have an unbeatable collection).

4. Buy a short story collection

Short stories are great if you’re in need of something succinct, especially if you make sure you don’t pressure yourself to read them all at once or chronologically. Alice Munro, Leo Tolstoy and F. Scott Fitzgerald all have wonderful short story collections.

5. If you normally read ebooks, try a paperback instead

I don’t tend to read too many ebooks in a row, largely because I like getting back to the tactile reading experience that paperbacks provide. When I’m stuck in a reading rut, purchasing a beautiful paperback – or treating myself to a new hardback release – often reminds me why I love to read.

You could also:

6. Read poetry
7. Experience a genre or author that’s completely new to you
8. Make sure not worry about having a reading break if you need one
9. Talk to fellow bookworms about the books that they’ve been enjoying
10. Have reasonable expectations: remind yourself you don’t need to read everything on the Booker Prize list!

How do you get out of a reading rut?

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It's good to meet you! I started Tolstoy Therapy back in 2012 to share my healing journey through anxiety and PTSD with books. I also climb mountains, go on solo adventures, and write over at

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