For much of the past few years, I usually only read one book at once. I rarely quit a book. I told myself it was about focus, that I could only fixate my reading energy on one story at a time. That kind of concentration was sure to help me finish books faster. And besides, sticking with one book for a while even if I thought it was blah or even awful would surely make me finish more books than if I abandoned them all. Once I was 20, 30 pages in, surrendering would mean I had lost those pages, possibly more than a tenth of a book. And if I wanted to read more, and if I wanted to come closer to reaching my Goodreads and personal reading challenge goals, giving up was not an option.
However, also for most of the past few years I have been in one gigantic reading slump. There were many factors that contributed to this. One would be the shift from reading for fun and pleasure into reading for work (or school). Suddenly, I went from choosing books based on whims and wanderlust to reading like a pro. It was my dream, to read for a living, but it also killed the fun.
But another factor would be that I just simply hadn’t found great books. Sure there have been some highlights—like The Goldfinch, I’ll Meet You There, and Freedom—but the overall tenor of my reading life has been a series of blahs since roughly 2014. So I was excited when I discovered a cure for reading slumps that has worked for me. Poor, neglected blog, the solution was simple: read more books at once.
One of the things that helped this was getting a Kindle. Technically, I got a Kindle Paperwhite for my mom for Christmas, but I wasn’t sure if she’d use it. I asked a few questions to gauge her interest, but it seemed like something she wasn’t really into. So I adopted the Kindle and downloaded a few books that wouldn’t be able to be delivered real fast (for example, the hardcover of Han Kang’s The Vegetarian was out of stock on Amazon, so I bought the Kindle edition). I’ve found that the Kindle is an especially good format for longer books and in particular nonfiction. I’ve been reading Sam Quinones’ Dreamland: The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic for months. Having it on my Kindle makes it easy to go just a few pages at a time. Plus, with the Kindle you can have multiple books going at once. I’ve found that being in the middle of a few books at the same time on your Kindle means there’s always something there as an option.
Sometimes the thought of starting a new book is downright terrifying. I get it, you get it, we all get it: shelf intimidation. Staring at your bookshelves, unsure what to read next but know you want something new, you get paralyzed by indecision. This used to be me back when I only read one book at a time. If I wasn’t loving the book I was reading, I fell out of love with reading, but I never felt like I could just start something new. When you have two, three, or more books going, you can hop along to different books rather than obsessing over the mental and emotional effort it takes to open a book and start on page one.
Now I’m sitting pretty. In this month alone, I’ve finished four books by reading multiple books at once. It’s one way to cure my reading slump for sure. Next time you find yourself stuck, ask if you’re stuck because of a reading slump, or you’re stuck because of the book you’re reading right now. And always know that breaking up with a book carries no shame. Indeed, sometimes it’s the only way to cure a slump.