133 Comments
Apr 3, 2023Liked by Elizabeth

I'll go out on a limb and suggest...maybe take a break from reading? I know that's sacrilege but it's important to remember that reading is a fun, enjoyable privilege that is just one part of a balanced life. It's turning spring in the northern hemisphere, so maybe turn your focus outdoors--go running, hiking, dig in your garden, start a garden, walk around town and look at other people's gardens--or just find other enjoyable ways to pass the time. Sign up for a new streaming service and waste time watching dumb crap. No guilt, no regrets. Books will be there when you feel like reading them.

As for this email list, well, I'll stick around whether you decide to go on hiatus or find a substitute author to cover for you.

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author

This is so sweet. Thank you so much. It means a lot.

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I almost always turn to comics/graphic novels to break reading slumps. I recently loved Mimosa, and two absolutely lovely middle grade ones: Garlic and the Vampire, Garlic and the Witch.

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author

Ohh. Will look at for the Garlic books.

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This is such a good idea!

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I second the Garlic series! Absolutely adorable!

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Came here to recommend the exact same ones! Cured a lot of sadness for me!

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Apr 3, 2023Liked by Elizabeth

Pineapple Street just got me out of a slump! First novel I’ve finished in weeks..,

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author

I keep hearing good things!

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Apr 3, 2023Liked by Elizabeth

I just finished reading Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus. Best fiction I've read in at least a year!

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author

I have this on audio and just haven't gotten to it.

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It was a good literal page turner vs audio IMO!!!

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Apr 3, 2023Liked by Elizabeth

When I'm in a slump I can usually count on listening to an audiobook version of a memoir-- especially a celebrity memoir. I recently really enjoyed Viola Davis's Becoming Me.

Other books that have jump-started my reading after a slump: Circe by Madeline Miller, Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver, and Hamnet by Maggie O'Farrell.

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author

Thanks!

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Apr 3, 2023Liked by Elizabeth

I try to find weird or shocking easy reads to get me out of slumps. I absolutely flew through "Several People are Typing" by Calvin Kasulke. I also find humor helps me with it, so finding humorous cozies like Seances are for Suckers or humorous romances like Partners in Crime also make for good slump breakers.

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author

You mentioned two of my faves — Several People are Typing and Partners in Crime — so I will look for Seances for Suckers.

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Apr 3, 2023Liked by Elizabeth

I reread my favorite book

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When I'm in a reading slump (or when I have a cold/am super tired, and everything feels more challenging than usual), I turn to old Dick Francis novels. He was writing in the 1980s — a former steeplechase jockey turned crime novelist. His detectives are usually NOT; they're normal men drawn into extraordinary circumstances. His heroes are real salt-of-the-earth kinda guys —I love them. Most of the stories are set in the world of horse racing, but others go into other subcultures/livelihoods like the liquor business, photography, film making. There's often a light romance between the hero and a strong-willed woman. Dick Francis was assisted on his novels by his wife, and his women characters are great!

He wrote more than 40 novels and only had two recurring characters: Kit Fielding (2 books) and Sid Hally (3 books). The Sid Halley books are some of my favorites: Odds Against, Whip Hand, Come to Grief.

I also love it when Francis takes his characters to other locales — no surprise there, right? If you want to do some armchair traveling outside England, The Edge (https://strongsenseofplace.com/weekend_getaway/2021/10/28/ride-the-rails-in-the-canadian-rockie-with-the-dick-francis-mystery-the-edge/) is set on a train going across Canada (locked room mystery! with romance) and To The Hilt (https://strongsenseofplace.com/books/to_the_hilt_francis/) is set in Scotland (the highlands!).

His books are so easy to read, but very well constructed and the characters are people you want to spend time with. He's great with details that give you a snapshot of a person in an instant, and FWIW, the villains are really villainous and usually get their comeuppance.

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Apr 9, 2023Liked by Elizabeth

I just finished To the Hilt, at your recommendation, Melissa, and it was great! I’m totally hooked, even stayed up late. Next Dick Francis novel already requested from the library. *Thank you!* (Because I’ve been in a serious slump lately too.)

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Oh, this is very exciting! I'm glad you enjoyed it! Welcome to the world of Dick Francis, where the men are masculine, but also sensitive; the horses are lovely, intuitive creatures; and the crimes are dastardly, but solvable :-)

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author

I remember you telling me about these. I'll look.

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Drew Magary's The Hike is an annual read for me. The perfect blend of silly, serious, fantasy and sci-fi. Someone you know has been recommending you read this for years.

I also recently finished Winning Fixes Everything by Evan Drellich, which was an excellent look into the Houston Astros organization from the top down. Fast paced and entertaining. A fascinating look at the problems with modern baseball.

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I had heard that The Hike was optioned as a series a few years back and I have not heard much about it since, but man I love that book!

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Apr 3, 2023Liked by Elizabeth

I had a very intense slump in 2021, I went weeks and weeks without reading. The books that got through were Once and Future Witches by Alix E Harrow and Once There Were Wolves by Charlotte McConaghy. I’ve always leaned on rereads during the slumpier times, though.

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author

I've heard good things about both of these. Thank you!

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I adore the once and future witches!! Her earlier book, the ten thousand doors of January, is also wonderful!!

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Apr 3, 2023Liked by Elizabeth

I haven’t gotten to that yet, but I also really loved A Spindle Splintered. I’m a sucker for a queer feminist fairy tale.

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I loved Once there were Wolves. Have you read Tell the Wolves I’m Home? It’s not actually about wolves but it’s an excellent book.

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Apr 3, 2023Liked by Elizabeth

Tell the Wolves I'm Home is an all-time favorite for me, oh gosh. I am tearing up just thinking about it.

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Same!

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Apr 3, 2023Liked by Elizabeth

Marg! Fancy seeing you here :-) I just wrote a comment about your book club pick.

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Ha ha, we book enthusiasts eventually gravitate to the same hangouts.

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Apr 3, 2023Liked by Elizabeth

Binders, then Words on the Waves, then here...

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Apr 3, 2023Liked by Elizabeth

Something that sparks a genuine guffaw and keeps ‘‘em coming. For me it was the memoir Did Ye Hear Mammy Died by Seamas O’Reilly, Irish journalist.

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author

Loved this one!

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I just finished REMARKABLY BRIGHT CREATURES and think it fits this bill very much. It's a quick, generally light read but it's so fun and sweet and yet not shallow at all. I am reading it as part of a book club and we don't meet for another few weeks but most folks have not only finished it already but have been texting about how much they all loved it, and I can't remember that happening ... ever.

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author

I keep meaning to read this one.

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Apr 3, 2023Liked by Elizabeth

Not a slump exactly, but I've been going through a pretty intense time lately, and a lot of the books I've been reading have been for research or out of some kind of commitment, rather than for pure as-the-whim-takes-you enjoyment. Although many of them have been excellent, most have had some kind of work attached to them - beta reading comments, or drawing up book club questions, etc. Recently I joined a THIRD book club (I may have a problem) but this time just as a member, not a host. And the first scheduled book was The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin. And it was an absolute delight. First, it was a shorter-than-average read, which I've grown to appreciate recently. And it managed to balance meaningful complexity with light-hearted entertainment. Plus it has lots of internal book references too! Highly recommend it.

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Apr 3, 2023Liked by Elizabeth

And I've just sent that Marg Moon is in on this thread! It was her book club that introduced me to the book. Thanks Marg!

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My absolute pleasure!

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I read The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Annie Barrows and Mary Ann Shaffer. The first book I read in years that broke my reading slump and brought me back into the wonderful life and love of books.

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author

It's such a lovely book.

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My first historical fiction too that I read

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Apr 3, 2023Liked by Elizabeth

When I'm in a slump, I usually just want to read Anne Carson - I recommend Autobiography of Red. I've also really enjoyed Let Me Clear My Throat by Elena Passarello and American Fire by Monica Hesse.

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author

Thank you!

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Apr 3, 2023Liked by Elizabeth

I love The Storied Life of A J Fikry to get out of a slump. It’s a great read and you might fight find further titles to interest you as you read. I love a bookish book for a slump!

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author

I see at least two suggestions for this one. Might have to give it a go.

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Apr 3, 2023Liked by Elizabeth

Ducks by Kate Beaton is a graphic novel about two years she worked in the oil sands in Alberta. It is a very quick read - I started last night and will finish today - and I love her art and her stories.

The Two Doctors Gorski by Isaac Fellman is a short, packed book. It follows a graduate student in magic who has left her previous program and restarts her studies with a controversial professor who previously split himself in two. This is not a light read, but it's not extensively grim.

Maame by Jessica George follows a young woman in London who's trying to break out of her old patterns - of psychological caretaking her family, of physical caretaking her sick father, of sucking up micro and macroaggressions in her very White workplace. Engaging, delightful - not entirely light but overall positive.

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author

Thank you!

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Apr 3, 2023Liked by Elizabeth

I keep a list of the writers I’ve loved, because I often forget about them. For example, Matthew Norman and Jonathan Tropper. I can always find one of their books I haven’t read yet, and the writing is so smooth and perfect, I just fall right into it.

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author

This is an excellent idea.

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I always find going for a romance novel breaks me out of some kind of slump. My go to's are Elle Kennedy, Tessa Bailey or Ana Huang. Reading Rogue -Elle Kennedy just about saved me from plummeting into a slump recently

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author

I'm glad you avoided the dreaded slump.

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Oof, I’m sorry you’re in a reading slump!

Without knowing Anne Bogel’s 3 books you loved and 1 book you didn’t, I’d recommend James Herriot’s All Creatures Great & Small (and it sequels): short, interconnected stories from his life as a veterinarian in Yorkshire in the 1930s-40s, brimming with good hearted humor and keen observations on human & animal behavior.

On the newer side, The Change, by Kirsten Miller pulled me on & kept me turning the pages to the dramatic end!

Or maybe try something very different, something illustrated or graphic? I loved Am I There Yet? by Mari Andrews, When Wanderers Cease to Roam, by Vivian Swift, Relish, by Lucy Knisely, and Check, Please! by Ngozi Ukazu.

Good luck & let us know what eventually works for you! :)

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author

Love All Creatures Great & Small and the BBC adaptation.

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Apr 3, 2023Liked by Elizabeth

Reading slumps are absolutely a thing. For the past few years, I have found that my January-April reads were 90% (insert negative adjective here).

Break your slump with these winner-winner-chicken-dinner books (top two being my absolute favorites):

Parting Words: Nine Lessons for a Remarkable Life by Benjamin Ferencz

Disappearing Earth by Julia Phillips

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens (I’m sure you’ve read it, but just in case!)

A History of Wild Places by Shea Ernshaw

Smoke Gets in Your Eyes & Other Lessons From the Crematory by Caitlin Doughty

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author

The crematorium one looks interesting. Thank you!

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Recently, the India Holton "Dangerous Damsels" series helped to pull me out of a blah period. The third one is about to come out, and they're like unexpected and cleverly whimsical. Also just fun, so it doesn't feel like "oh I'm supposed to be getting something out of this". Just fun.

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author

I've heard good things!

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Apr 6, 2023Liked by Elizabeth

Coming in late but two short ones:

- Foster by Claire Keegan (I'm not quite done yet but it's lovely)

- Even Though I Knew the End (queer magical detective story!)

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author

Really enjoyed Even Though I Knew the End

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Sometimes going completely weird and dark can help - ONE'S COMPANY by Ashley Hutson, BUNNY by Mona Awad, or any of Grady Hendrix's three most recent books (I'm not sure if horror is your jam - he's not super scary IMO, but be warned! :). Alternately, I also sometimes need a sweet/light/fast read to get momentum again: TWEET CUTE by Emma Lord is a well-crafted YA rom com, or women's fiction like THE SWITCH by Beth O'Leary (great on audio!) or EVVIE DRAKE STARTS OVER by Linda Holmes, or either of Clare Pooley's books. Going back to middle grade books can also be super comforting - WHAT HAPPENED TO RACHEL RILEY? by Claire Swinarski and JENNIFER CHAN IS NOT ALONE by Tae Keller are two recent favorites.

I have been such a mood reader for the last year or so and haven't been able to plan my reading much (I once planned out a full year of reading in advance, so this is a switch for me!). If you're a capricious reader right now, that's ok! Be choosy, vet titles before you pick them up, and don't overthink it - put down any book that isn't working for you right now. Best of luck!

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author

I loved Iona Iverson!

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Have you thought of re-reading your favourite books? If I can't think of what to read and nothing seems to interest me at the moment, I usually re-read a well-loved book that I haven't picked up in a long time.

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Definitely read this one! As Far as You Can Go Before You Have to Come Back by Alle C. Hall -I just heard from the author’s social media that the novel was nominated for The National Book Award. It's that good!

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Apr 4, 2023Liked by Elizabeth

As Far as You Can Go Before You Have to Come Back by Alle C. Hall was nominated for The National Book Award. I think you'd love this book about childhood trauma leading to a more hopeful place.

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Apr 4, 2023Liked by Elizabeth

When I am in a slump I turn to pop culture/Hollywood history books. Right now I am reading Oscar Wars by Michael Schulman and it is great! I also liked From Hollywood with Love by Scott Maslow and Mark Harris' Mike Nichols bio.

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author

Oooh. These are good ideas.

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Apr 4, 2023Liked by Elizabeth

It's terrifying, and Our Share of Night. It's incredible, and wonderful to read. I also loved Demon Copperhead. Have you read any of Lynda Barry's books? She's magical.

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Ooh, reading slumps are the worst! I tend to re-read a favourite to start me off - usually Pride and Prejudice which makes me smile every time. I also like something I can dip in and out of like a collection of essays or poetry - recently I went for At Large and At Small by Anne Fadiman and The World's Wife by Carol Ann Duffy. Both great re-reads that helped me want to pick up something else. If I'm not in the mood for concentrating or I'm not reading because I'm poorly or something then I tend to go for fantasy and teen fiction. Actually I pick those quite a lot even when I'm not slumping! When I was ill a couple of weeks ago I read The Kings of Scars by Leigh Burdago from the Grishaverse of Shadow and Bone. Great characters and an immersive other world to get lost in. Making a list of other recommendations here - so many great ones to look into! ✨

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author

There are SO MANY.

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Apr 4, 2023Liked by Elizabeth

The Adventures of Amina al-Sirafi by S.A. Chakraborty was a great book and I highly recommend it. Middle-aged, retired pirate goes on one last hurrah to try to secure funds to make sure her daughter has a solid future.

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author

Intriguing premise!

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I had a mini-slump last week, mostly because Scribd's algorithm is a little too tight, I guess, and was recommending audiobooks so similar I began to feel I was eating too many donuts and wanted some broccoli.

I don't know if she would care to have her book compared to broccoli--which I love, btw--but the first book I read all the way through after casting several aside was Exit Strategy by Lainey Cameron. A vigorous tale, with a great mix of humor and seriousness, about female friendship overcoming prejudices, jealousy, and the machinations of a villain you will truly love to hate. And with my favorite story elements: friendship and collective action (rather than a sole superhero) overcoming evil, and women standing up and speaking out against injustice.

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Apr 4, 2023Liked by Elizabeth

I like to reread manga that's relatively light i.e. no fighting or apocalypses when in a slump: usually sports series like Haikyu (high school volleyball), Yotsuba (slice of life about a little girl in suburban Japan), and Silver Spoon (adventures at an agricultural university in Hokkaido). Or maybe just lean in to the audio format and find some nice podcasts! Hope you find your groove soon :)

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Apr 4, 2023Liked by Elizabeth

The Queen's Thief series by Megan Whalen Turner. The first book is called The Thief. Books 2 and 3 are AMAZING -- but don't read the summaries, just go in blind!

The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim.

Kirsty Eagar's books (she's Australian & her books are finally all available in the USA). Summer Skin is maybe my favourite (tag line: Girl meets Boy, Girl steals from Boy, seduces Boy, ties Boy to a chair and burns Boy’s stuff. Just your typical love story).

The Murder of Mr Wickham by Claudia Gray. It was soooooo enjoyable and the sequel is out next month

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author

Burns Boy's Stuff! Intriguing!

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Apr 4, 2023Liked by Elizabeth

Have only just exited a reading slump two days ago! The book that got me out of it was Best of Friends by Kamila Shamsie. I've read quite a few middling reviews of this book, but I found it compelling.

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author

Oooh. Intriguing. Thanks for the rec!

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Apr 4, 2023Liked by Elizabeth

Tiny Beautiful Things (which has just been made into a show, but I’m sure the book is better, and I don’t always say that)

For Arab American Heritage month try the graphic novel Squire and the graphic memoir I Was Their American Dream.

Good luck finding a book to get into ❤️

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author

Thanks friend.

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I often revisit my fave rom-com author, Mhairi McFarlane or turn to non-fiction with a comedian’s memoir!

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author

Oooh. Good ideas.

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Ugh, reading slumps are the worst! Pretty sure you have read The Idea Of You, but if not that’s my number one rec! Other slump busters for me include epistolary novels because of the short chunks, especially funny ones like The Roxy Letters and Bridget Jones’s Diary.

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author

I have The Roxy Letters but haven't read it yet. Maybe this is the time.

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I think it might be! It’s bonkers and fun in the best way and it pulled me out of a slump too.

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Ugh, reading slumps are the worst! Pretty sure you have read The Idea Of You, but if not that’s my number one rec! Other slump busters for me include epistolary novels because of the short chunks, especially funny ones like The Roxy Letters and Bridget Jones’s Diary.

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Apr 3, 2023Liked by Elizabeth

North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell

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Apr 3, 2023Liked by Elizabeth

An Immense World by Ed Yong Non-Fiction, beautiful writing, awesome content. I kept reading people passages and calling friends on the other side of the country to read them pieces of it. Think it will be in my top group for the year.

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author

He's such a fantastic writer.

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Apr 3, 2023Liked by Elizabeth

I always love to reread a book when I'm in a slump and find that childhood or YA faves are a great and easy way to break a slump. There's something nostalgic and easy about them.

With that in mind... the Gallagher Girls (Ally Carter) series is still a delight 15? 20? years later. I just reread Anna and the French Kiss (Stephanie Perkins) and it was still a 5* read for me. And I reread A Mango-Shaped Space every year (fave kids/middle grade book).

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author

I normally go to Sarah Dessen when I'm like this. I should grab one of her new ones.

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Apr 3, 2023Liked by Elizabeth

I’ve been in a slump too! Started tons of top rated on good reads and stopped. I’m actually listening to Daniel Deronda and finding books from an older time to be a go to. Reading wise, I mixed it up with your rec Several People Are Typing and finished it in a day. Same with Nora Goes Off Script - I find something super light and easy goes down quickly and helps relieve the slump. Currently I’m doing the Bring It On book. So maybe something totally random and diff like that? Good luck!!!!!!!!!!

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author

The Bring It On book is one of my favorites of the year so far. So much fun.

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I’m almost done with it but couldn’t wait for another day to rewatch. Me shouting fun facts the entire movie

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When I’m in a reading slump, I don’t read books. I may read news or articles, but I just let go of books for a bit. Eventually something will call to me. Sometimes the old brain just needs a break!

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Recent reads that got me out of a slump:

Babel by R. F. Kuang - I haven't read their Poppy Wars series yet but OMG Babel is a masterpiece! Being a standalone is an epic bonus.

The Monk & Robot series (2 books so far) by Becky Chambers - absolutely delightful, heartwarming, thought-provoking novellas that I recommend to everyone now.

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern - this seems to be a hit or miss rec, but it's one of my all-time favorite books. Any Reveurs out there are friends of mine!

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author

Loved The Night Circus.

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Whenever you're in a reading slump, switch to a genre you don't usually read. I found during the pandemic my attention span was non-existent so poetry was really great. I like Danez Smith and Louise Gluck. Also, maybe a little leftfield, but Bob Dylan The Lyrics is great, especially reading while he sings. The imagery is very vivid.

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I switch up genres when I'm in a slump too. Sometimes I find really awesome books I wouldn't have known about otherwise and sometimes...it confirms my dislike for a particular genre so much that I get inspired to go back to what I was reading before 🤣

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author

Thank you!

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Apr 3, 2023Liked by Elizabeth

I like to get out of a reading slump with thrillers. This works for me because my expectations are reasonable (I'm not expecting GREAT, whatever that means, just entertaining), and if it's well done, then the world around me fades, and I just want to know what is going to happen next! The last such thriller I read was ROCK PAPER SCISSORS by Alice Feeney. Please let us know how it goes!

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author

Oh! I listened to Daisy Darker last year but haven't done Rock Paper Scissors yet.

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I preferred RPS because I figured out Daisy Darker--and I am not someone who is great at figuring out mysteries! But RPS had twists I didn't see coming. Hope you enjoy!

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Apr 3, 2023Liked by Elizabeth

Claire Kingsley’s Bailey Brothers series - a romance series - got me out of a bit of a slump recently.

I especially loved that there were some stories that continued across multiple books (so be sure to read in order) and the ways you saw characters from each book in the other books.

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author

I love that!

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Apr 3, 2023Liked by Elizabeth

Becky Chambers Wayfarer series. Perfect line between compulsively readable but still a really great story. I blew through all 4 in a month.

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Have you read their Monk & Robot series yet? I'm absolutely in love with it!

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My book club just picked it so I am starting it next week! Can't wait

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author

I tried the first one ages ago and couldn't get into it. Maybe it's time to try again.

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Apr 3, 2023Liked by Elizabeth

There’s one audiobook that I recommended to absolutely everyone and it’s The Diviners by Libba Bray. It’s narrated by January LaVoy and she is an INCREDIBLE narrator. She manages to make it seem like you’re listening to a full cast. The production of the audiobook is also incredible and combined with Bray’s beautifully atmospheric and deeply researched writing, you truly feel completely immersed in the magical 1920s New York setting. I really think there’s something for everyone to gain from reading the series, even if it’s not something you would normally pick up.

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author

I read a lot of Libba Bray in high school but haven't gone back.

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