How To Break Out Of A Reading Slump
Luis Aparicio is a baseball giant. He is enshrined with the best of the best in Cooperstown, the Baseball Hall of Fame. But he is also among the worst of the worst when it comes to another category . . .
Aparicio held the unenviable distinction as having the record for the longest batting slump in the history of Major League Baseball, 44 at bats without a hit. Slumps are terrible things. Just ask any leader. Like Aparicio, even the best leaders fall into slumps--reading slumps!
In this post I share seven ways you can break out of a reading slump and get back your reading momentum.
The signs of a reading slump
Slumps are easy to spot in baseball. A player stops getting hits. What are the signs of a reading slump?
- You have stopped reading. (duh) If you are binging on podcasts and videos and only daydreaming about the books you'll read, you are probably in a slump. This is dangerous. Reading supplies new ideas, unleashes creativity, and is a conduit for valuable leadership lessons.
- You are buying books, but not reading them. If you piling up books and receipts faster than you're turning pages . . . look out! You are probably in a slump.
- You are reading just to "get through it." If you are slogging through books like a desert travel through Sarah sands, you are probably in a slump. Reading is an adventure and a pleasure.
- You have stopped reading in a key growth area. If you are neglecting focused attention in a realm you at which you excel or need to grow, you are probably in a slump.
How to break out of your slump
Slumping hitters must step back into the batters box. Slumping shooters live by a simple maxim, "Shooters shoot!" Slumping golfers still tee it up. Slumping teams still take to the field. And slumping leaders still must pick up a book. Here are seven essential ways to get moving.
1. Start small
For two years the same book sat on my nightstand. It was Churchill: A Life by Martin Gilbert. I started the book at one point, then stopped. At 1,000 pages it was too much. I shelved it. Then, at the urging of a friend, I pulled it off my bookshelf and placed it on my nightstand. What followed was amazing. I read two or three pages each night before going to bed. I also wrote the day's date in the margin to chronicle my nightly journey. Today, Mr. Churchill is once again standing on my shelf, but this time because I finished our nightly meetings. I read the book. More importantly, I learned a ton. The secret was starting small.
If you want to break out of your reading slump, pick a book and start with a few pages a day. Remove the pressure to "finish it." Simply enjoy daily progress.
2. Read for pleasure
If you’re in a reading slump, pick up a good novel or a magazine.
Many people eschew novels as light and worldly. Not so! The most powerful words in the English language are "Tell me a story.'" Mind you, I’m not talking about devouring the latest Harlequin Romance. Get something with some substance, but it doesn't have to be War and Peace.
Novels show us the raw reality of life. They are emotions, hopes, and dreams. They are frustrations and triumphs, sin and redemption. They remind us of the human condition and our need to love those we lead. Magazines are short, interest-oriented, and contain graphics that help ease us back onto the reading path.
3. Find a reading buddy
God says, “Two are better than one because they have a good return for their work.” Enlisting a reading buddy is adding synergistic power to your reading discipline. You get: a fellow traveler on your reading journey; someone who will lovingly "push you along" the path when you grow weary; a friend to process your learnings; someone to hold you accountable to put lessons learned into practice. Reading buddies also feed us new titles that stoke the reading flame.
Andy and Jay are two reading buddies who have helped me over the years. I have read more and learned more because of them. If you don't have a reading buddy, or need to re-establish this practice, do the following:
- List a book you would like to read: ___________________________
- Name a friend who could read it with you?: _____________________
Ask that person today! GoodReads, the online reading site, is another great way to meet fellow readers and discover what they are reading.
4. Set a daily goal and keep score
Pat Conroy, New York Times best-selling author of the Prince Of Tides, set a goal in high school. He wanted to read 200 pages a day -- every day of his life. By the time Pat died in 2016, he had read over 3,000,000 pages.
Okay, that’s daunting! But here's the point: Set a goal and stick with it. Start with 30 minutes a day and divide it into two 15 minute segments. You will be amazed at your progress. Keep score by recording your progress in your journal on day planner, or join GoodReads annual Reading Challenge. Set your goal and monitor your progress. It really is that easy. Plus, GoodReads compiles your titles read into a classy pictograph at the end of the year. Click here to see my 2017 Reading Challenge.
5. Listen to a book
Listening to a book saves time and narrators have a way of bringing a story to life. I often listen to books while I work in the yard, exercise or travel. You can check out books at your local library or purchase them online very reasonably through a service such as audible.com.
6. Visit a bookstore
If you want to break out of your slump, you're going to have to get in your car and visit a bookstore. Go to your local Barnes and Noble and just browse. Or take a book safari at your local used book store. Here in Boca, I travel to Bookwise and meander. There is nothing like perusing the stacks, eying a new title, holding the volume in your hands and turning the pages to reignite your reading passion.
7. Listen to the On My Walk Reading Podcast
Yes, the same guy who pooh-poohed podcasts is telling you to listen to one; but hey, it is my podcast. The On My Walk Reading Podcast helps you capture reading's "Aha! moments" so you can grow and help others. It is not a substitute for reading, but it just might kick-start your interest. The books are fascinating, the podcasts are short and practical. You can also search my growing list of book reviews to read more. You can subscribe to On My Walk by clicking here.
Get started today
The best players fall into slumps. The same happens to leaders when it comes to reading. But you don't have to stay there. You can break out of that slump and get back your reading momentum. Get started today.
A special offer this week only . . .
Both Dunkirk and Darkest Hour -- films that depict Winston Churchill -- picked up Oscars last Sunday. Knowing the popularity of Churchill and the lessons we can learn from him, we are offering the leadership tool, Churchill And Dunkirk: Finding Victory Inside Of Defeat for a special Leaders Life & Work rate of $2.50. Just click here and use the discount code, CHURCHILL.
- "The most powerful words in the English language ..." from Pat Conroy, My Reading Life.
- "Two are better than one . . ." from Ecclesiastes 4:9