Discussion: On Book Slumps

discussion

I went through a little book slump recently where nothing was just really clicking except for my favorite authors. After many discussions and whining with friends over not feeling our current reads, it got me thinking…

IS THERE SUCH A THING AS TOO MANY BOOKS?

I’ve been blogging for four years now and have literally read hundreds of books in the past few years. Obviously I was a reader before then but book blogging really amped up the number of books I have discovered, tried, and finished. As a casual reader before blogging, I would read a lot, sure. But it wasn’t until I started blogging that I started reading multiple versions at a time (especially since I only ever read physical copies before my blog, not at all interested in audiobooks or ebooks). I got to wondering… have I just read too many books? 

I think most of if not all of us have certain genres that we love. First I binged all of the dystopian I could find but before long, I ended up tiring of the genre and things just didn’t feel like new ideas. I still can’t read a new dystopian book without comparing it to a popular series like The Hunger Games but part of that’s because of the elements that are really necessary in order for it to be classified as dystopian. There are so many things that are common in dystopian novels that it becomes hard to really separate them or to feel like what I’m reading is totally new and I haven’t felt the desire to pick up a new dystopian book in quite some time.  I’ve started to feel that way recently about a lot of contemporary books as well. Have I just read too many books that things aren’t seeming as original anymore?

AN ONSLAUGHT OF GRIEF AND LOSS

I’ve exhausted myself on the disease/illness/loss of a love one concept but… it’s not like it’s a trope. It’s a part of life. Everyone goes through these experiences and the stories are important — that’s why they’re turned into books. I’ve experienced all of these things as well but right now I’m at the point in my life where I’m dealing with my own things in life and I just don’t want to take on the burden of a book character as I’m going through my own stuff. I also find it harder to read books about loss lately and the “heavier” books are just kind of bringing me down. I’m in the mood for action, adventure, or a cute and light romance. The heavy realistic novels just aren’t working for me at the moment so I’ve really been avoiding those to prevent further book slumps. I just started a book recently that I thought would be a fun summer romance — still serious and not fluffy, but a good romance to dig into — and it started off with a girl grieving for her mother who had just passed away. I immediately put it on hold because that was just more than I bargained for at the time.

I also feel like there’s just an onslaught of books that surround grief and loss. Again, rightfully so since this is something that anyone at any age may need to deal with or go through. Maybe because I’m avoiding it, I recognize it more often but I recently read a Publisher’s Weekly release and three out of four of the new YA deals were dealing with a recent loss. Maybe it’s just me but it does feel like it’s a lot of the market at the moment. I have no issues with other serious topics like mental health and books that share stories and raise awareness — I actually enjoy those books quite a bit. I think I’ve always been more connected to mental health and disorders and it’s the physical ailments that I’ve really started to avoid. They aren’t less important but they’re a bit harder for me to read right now.

On a different note, I have no issue with these topics in fantasy books! I’m thinking it’s probably because there’s so much else going on in the book and it’s not the main focus. If the main character in a fantasy book is grieving, that loss usually comes with a mission of some sort — revenge, honor, power, rights, retrieval of something — the grief may be a plot-starter but there’s so much more going on than that.

WRITING STYLES

I’ve also started to feel like the writing styles for some newer books just isn’t as good as what I’m used to. Not everything has to be flowery or detailed or serious; I adore fluffy contemporary books as much as I do epic fantasy or serious realistic fiction… But I do feel like I’m not jiving with a lot of books lately because of the writing. It could be a style I’m not connecting with — though I’m not certain since I can’t quite pin it down — but I’m having a hard time with the writing in a lot of books recently. Passages that go on for too long, taking forever to get to a big plot point, cheesy dialogue, story and characters jumping around, too easily fitting into a stereotype — I just can’t seem to shake a lot of these notions as I read. I’m not judging. Hey, I’m not a writer by any means and if I were to write a book it’d probably be much worse than any published novel that I’ve read… but I’m starting to wonder if maybe it’s not me and certain books are published because the topic and plot is important and the writing sort of got left by the wayside.

That comes back around to the “too many books” question. Have I just read so many books now that I have a certain standard I hold authors to? I know that’s not fair at all and I try to go into a new book with an open mind but I can’t help but notice that some of the writing in some recent reads just doesn’t seem up to par with some of my favorite authors. I feel bad for saying that because hey, not like I’m writing a book over here and who am I to judge someone’s writing when I’m not doing it myself? But as an avid reader and a book reviewer, writing styles and plot structure is something that I end up noticing and analyzing more. Sometimes I just feel like things could be so much more cohesive or flow a little better and those noticeable things in an author’s writing just end up throwing up red flags to me. Too many red flags and it makes it hard for me to continue reading a book. Often times my DNFs have nothing to do with the credibility of a plot and more so just if I’m even interested in what’s going on.

AM I TOO HARD ON BOOKS?

Am I just being too hard on these books? Sometimes I feel like I’m skipping over books that are okay in order to get to a book I will LOVE. I feel guilty that I may not have given the book a chance and I’m just being too hard on it because it’s not a book I’m in LOVE with. But then again, why SHOULD I continue a book that’s just okay? I know a lot of people don’t DNF, especially when it’s something that’s not actively turning them off, but anyone is allowed to put down a book for any reason. I try to ask myself, if I wasn’t blogging/if I hadn’t received this book for review, would I continue? If the casual reader in me says no, then I put the book down. Sometimes I feel like I’m being too hard on books, knowing that if I had finished that book, I probably could have given it three stars (though my rating scale is a bit skewed from the Goodreads scale — three stars for me is more “meh just okay” than actually “good”) but if I’m just feeling “meh” about a book, why should I feel forced to finish it? I do end up finishing a lot of three star books but those are ones where I have other issues but the book still holds my attention. My DNF-possible-three-star books are ones that I just wasn’t interested in the plot and I felt like the book wasn’t really going anywhere.

I do still feel like I might be holding any new books I read to a certain standard. I really have read SO many books that turned into favorites or books that I really enjoyed that I do find it hard to end up with a true five-star book anymore. Usually they’re from my favorite authors but there are a few that I just instantly fell in love with. Is that fair? Sure, why not. If my TBR pile keeps growing and there are potential five-star books on my TBR, why shouldn’t I skip over a book that is just “meh” and head straight for a book I’ll love? I DO try to finish what I start but sometimes it’s not worth forcing myself to finish a book that has lost my interest simply to finish it. I still provide feedback even if I don’t finish (though not as a formal review) so I am still reviewing it in some fashion. Not everyone will like every book and I think it’s fine to know what you like and head straight for it! When you read as much as we do, it’s hard not to have a certain standard, preferred writing style, or expectation. I think it’s inevitable. It’s just very hard when I encounter book after book that just doesn’t quite feel up to par to what I’m expecting and BAM. Book slumps galore.


What aspects cause you to fall into a book slump? Have you changed the way you select books to try to avoid getting bogged down? How do you get out of slumps?

12 thoughts on “Discussion: On Book Slumps

  1. Sierra

    I’m not sure how to phrase what’s in my head, but I’ll try. For a while, I’ve noticed that I tend to rate books higher than a lot of other bloggers. I give out 4’s and often 5’s pretty easily whereas so many bloggers seem so hesitant. I don’t know what you think in your head when you read a book that leads you to how feel the rating you give, so this isn’t a knock on you specifically, but I do feel like in general the book blogging community has expectations that are way too high for books. Sometimes I read reviews that nitpick so many little details I never even considered while reading the same book and I feel like if I had considered those issues, it would have spoiled the fun of reading in general. But I think the point I’m making here – to just enjoy books regardless of criticism – is a tad different from reading slumps in general.

    Slumps suck. For me, I find slumps are just my mind and body’s way of saying I need a mental break because I’m overwhelmed. I really only get over them by stepping back from reading entirely, not from switching books until I find “the one.”

    I feel like that wasn’t much help, haha. But it’s all I’ve got! Sorry you’re in a reading funk these days. 🙁

  2. Jamie

    I think we can often get burnt out of genres or tropes. Whenever I feel a dreaded blogging slump coming on, I stop almost completely for a couple days to a week. I focus on a tv show, hobby, game or even household projects. Then the next book I pick up I go for something that I want to read or sounds interesting but is not in my standard book choices. Just for something very different. But I try not to go too far outside my comfort zone either of the book might put me even further off reading. Usually with a few days off, and a new genre I don’t read too often, I am good to go again.
    As for being too hard on a book, if a book isn’t grabbing me but I still have at least a vague interest, I will put it aside for something else, a few weeks/months later I try again. If that fails I MIGHT give it a third try but something about it still has to call out to me, otherwise at that point I give up. This is not for every book, just the ones that are okay and I have some level of curiosity to finish but other books are calling out to me.

  3. Charleen

    With the little man around, my time for reading is nothing like what it used to be (obviously), and getting stalled on a just-okay, or even just-good-but-not-great book, can lead to weeks of not reading at all. It’s been several years since I convinced myself it’s okay to DNF, but recently I decided to get a lot more aggressive about it to try and nip those potential slumps in the bud.

    I just have to remind myself that it doesn’t matter why a book isn’t grabbing me, and I don’t need to define it or justify it. Yeah, it can be helpful to recognize how my reading tastes and priorities are shifting… but by the time I’m out of this “extreme-DNF’er” phase, they’ll have shifted again, and right now it’s not worth the time or effort trying to pin down the why of it.

  4. Becky LeJeune

    I find that when I’m in a “meh” mood, many of the books I read tend to be that way as well. It does make me wonder if I were in a better mood if I’d enjoy the book more. And sometimes I’m aware of the fact that that answer might actually be yes. But when I’m in a slump, the only real fix seems to be going back to a longtime favorite author.

    I do absolutely think you should abandon a “meh” read though. This is something I’ve struggled with but now that I actually read for work it’s something I’ve had to learn to do (and I’m absolutely still working on it – I’m too much of a pushover!). I’m trying to carry over some of my work methods to my TBR. I mean let’s face it, there’s just too much out there to read to waste time on something you’re not loving. Especially if you’re in a slump!

  5. Kelsey @ Watch This Space

    I have a lot to say about your post here, so here goes..

    First, about reading slumps, I get them a lot… usually every 10 or so books (especially if I read those 10 books in a short time frame). I’m in a bit of a slump right now, but I’ve come to accept them. Often, I’ll try re-reading an old favorite (usually Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones will do the trick, but right now I’m re-reading Naomi Novik’s Uprooted). Also, a lot of times what I find helpful is reading a book meant for a different age range. So if I’m not feeling any YA books, I will read an “adult” book or a middle grade novel instead.

    I think your section about not wanting to judge books by their writing because you’re not a writer is an interesting POV. But I also think you SHOULD be judging books by their writing. Because who are the authors writing for? Presumably you, the reader, and if the book sounds like something you’d absolutely love, but aren’t connecting with, then it’s fair to discuss how the author’s particular writing style has affected your reading experience. This can also flip, and you can love the writing style, but the plot can be weak or characters not fully formed.

    And yes, just because you don’t like something doesn’t mean the writing is bad, but sometimes books can be poorly written. It happens. I still respect authors for finishing books, because that’s quite a feat, but some books could clearly have used some more work before going out into the world to fulfill their potential.

    In short, I don’t think you are too hard on books. Being a blogger is about so much more than loving everything you come across. Having your own set of standards for a book is what makes us all unique! Right? I hope… Also, when you stop reading books that aren’t catching your attention, suddenly the books you read become better overall and you’re wondering if you’re being too easy on the books you’re reading, because you like them all!

  6. JennRenee

    I think you make so many valid points. I know I go through times..like right now.. I have hit a lot of books that just make me so happy. There are times I can’t seem to get into any of them. I think that it is from reading so much. It tends to become same old thing. I change up the genre a lot. I try not to read the same genre back to back. This sometimes helps. Also i focus on more or less audio and more or less reading books. Tends to help too. Whatever I have been doing more of I cut back on. Sometime I just need to take small break and use a week to get caught up on my shows. I get it though. In the end I love reading so I get over the slumps and remember why I love to read.

  7. Penni @ Penni's Perceptions

    I’m really not sure what causes mine reading slumps. I get them every so often and each time they are for different reasons. But I still have figured it out yet. Sometimes it is just hard to focus on books when life happens.

  8. Kelsey

    So much of your post comes across to me, especially since I’m kind of going through something similar right now. I had a big book slump recently, and it took me like 6 months to get out of it. I pretty much stopped reading everything for a little while, and then I only went back to some favourites or books in my collection I knew I would like. I still fight with it now when I read a book I didn’t like, but I go back to re-read or choose something fun and it helps. I’ve been blogging close to 5 years now and I feel like I’m reading more for myself now, instead of just trying to read all the ARCs and get them out in time. I find the relaxed way of blogging is a lot less stressful. My blog did suffer over the last few months, but honestly since I’m having more fun now and not worrying I think it will all be ok.

  9. Dena @ Batch of Books

    I think you can easily get burned out on books. Especially if you read more than one or two per week. I felt the same way about a year ago, but then baby #3 was born and I took a break from reading so much. I almost immediately started liking books more. Since I wasn’t consuming book after book, I could slow down and enjoy the story for what it was — entertainment.

  10. Lauren @ Bookmark Lit

    I totally feel this! I wrote a post similar to this a while back, about feeling like I’m reading too much to really ENJOY what I’m reading. Each book blends into the next, especially if they’re in the same genre.

    Also, about flowery language – yes! Sometimes I just want a straightforward, easy, fluffy contemporary. The push to be more “literary” doesn’t jive with me right now.

    Great post! <3

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