Monday, August 4, 2014

The Summer Slump

I'm an autumn person, a fact I've never really been too shy about admitting. While the impending start of the school year is causing me severe anxiety, that factors more into the countless summer-related tasks I've yet to accomplish, not the crunch and snap of stepping on leaves, the chilly sunshine, the back-to-school supply shopping - a new planner! - and the crisp freshness of a new composition notebook cracked open for the first day of a new class.

However, summer, with its boundless free time and ample opportunity for adventures and trying new things isn't without its allure, as well. I love the lemonade, the beach, the vacations to new places, the yellow sunshine waking me up every morning, the ability to wear activewear all day without feeling compelled at all to actually be active...

Still, year after year, despite my planning, and prepping, and enthusiasm for the brighter months of the Washington weather system, it always ends, at some point, with me staring at my ample bookshelves, and thinking, "I don't want to read any of this."

It's not just that feeling of being unable to find a good book... it's a string of abandoned books in a row, bookmarks sticking out haphazardly from between pages like you knifed them in the ribs. Meanwhile, you're reeling, because your favorite hobby has suddenly turned into a black hole of effort and it's giving your conscience some grief. Can you really give that book a two-star rating? Should you just DNF?

Fear not, for this beast has a name: The Summer Slump. 

Symptoms of the Slump

Feeling guilty about not reading. 
A chronic strain of one- and two- star recs on Goodreads.
Being unable to commit to a narrative, or attach yourself to a main character.
Feeling uninspired by the books you manage to finish, leading to series-abandonment, genre-jumping, etc.

This tragic occurrence hits to me like clockwork almost every year. The slumps I sometimes have during the rest of the year are sometimes bad, but never this heart-breaking; primarily because summer is also when I feel like I should be getting most of my reading done.

So, you can imagine I've come up with more than one way to combat such a crippling condition. Behold, y'all: my instructions on how to break the dreaded summer slump!

How to Break the Slump

#1. Admit defeat. It's okay. That's one of the great things about Summer... despite the fact that August is basically the Sunday of  the Gregorian calendar, at this point, you've still got about a month left of free time before you've got to go be a responsible adult again. Shut the blinds against the sun, stay in, and have a movie party for one, or throw open all the windows in your house and have a tea party with your friends. All this pressure you're imposing yourself is not good for your mental health... take a break. 

#2. Find somewhere new to read. Personally, I live within fifteen minutes of a bustling downtown metropolis area, full of restaurants, cafes, and bakeries that I have never experienced before (Truth: there's more to life than Starbucks). And that's not even mentioning wide-open public gardens, park benches, yonder grassy knolls just crying for a nice quilt and a picnic basket to break up the landscape. If, once you're there, you're still not inspired... just revert to #1 (because, hey: at least you got out of the house today).  

#3. Sometimes all you need to regain your reading prowess, is to go back to your roots. Time to revisit an old favorite. Whether its the novel you read in the sixth grade where you first fell in love with a favorite author, or the summer reading classic that made you realize AP classes weren't so much of a racket in high school, there's a book in the backlogs of your memory that you loved, but can't quite remember. It's time to go remember. 

#4. Get some new material. Now, this is a dangerous one: if you're like me, and already have a TBR stack that does it's part in keeping the roof staying up, then you don't want to go crazy. While a new novel or two can definitely do its part in breaking a slump, use sparingly: instead of raiding the Sale section at Borders like some kind of literature viking, grab an expensive hardcover that you've really been looking forward to, and would usually wait for in paperback. Treat yo'self. 

#5. Ask for a recommendation from a trusted friend. (Key operative word is trusted.) That way, you're held accountable for your reading, and you have someone to talk through it with when you're getting stuck. Honestly, reading is so much better when you have someone to dish fiction with. Just think of it as a book club for two... or they're the sponsor for your Reading Rehab. Buddy up, amigos. 

Final Words
Don't overthink it; that's probably what got you into this Slump in the first place. Take a breath, take a break, and take a good look at the sunny world around you... it's still summer for another month. You've got this! 

1 comment:

  1. Aww this is sad! I feel like, more than any other time of the year, the summer is when I read the MOST. I'm not even really sure why, since I have a regular job so it's not like I get summer's off or anything. And it almost seems like I'd have less time to read since there's other stuff to do like go to the beach! But I don't know...summer just seems to inspire me to read! I'm not somebody who loves summer, though...I'm much more of a fall/spring person. Mostly fall, I guess. Except for the fact that winter comes right after it :P I don't like that part.

    I like this post, though! I bet there are a lot of other readers who go through the same thing. Just stick with it! Only a couple more weeks until September!! :)