5 Ways to Get Out of a Reading Slump

For most of us, slumps are ruthless. You can have the most time on your hands, the newest book in the market or the next title in your favourite series but still feel like reading is a chore. It lasts for weeks, months, maybe even years. We’ve all been there. It isn’t fun.

Before July, I’ve been stuck in an on-and-off reading slump for a little over a year. Occasionally I was able to read, but going from 42 books in a year to barely hitting 16 was quite a leap for me. It made me reconsider this blog of mine: What will I post? What about my stack of review copies? Do I still like reading? All these thoughts only made it worse.

When it comes to reading, I try not to force it. There will be days where it is more difficult to read than others, and I find that forcing myself to read will not make me enjoy the book.

So here are 5 ways I recommend to try getting out of a reading slump!


1. A new location

Photo by Vicky Tran on Pexels.com

Introducing changes to a routine keeps things fresh and exciting.

You can go as big as visiting a new coffee shop that you’ve been meaning to try, or maybe something more doable during the pandemic such as reading in the living room instead of your bedroom. Minor changes like this can help you boost your mood, and make reading more fun.

2. Fast-paced reads

There’s nothing like the sweet victory of finishing a book in one day, especially when you’re in a slump. Though, there’s absolutely no rush, you can take as long as you like.

I find that short books that gets you hooked right from the beginning are my favourite. An interesting storyline, characters that doesn’t annoy me too much, a light book that I can take with me anywhere… that sounds perfect. Here are some of my favourites that are below 250 pages* that doesn’t unnecessarily drag on and on.

*below 250 pages because these are smaller, thin books

3. Taste-cleansers

Whenever I finish a heavy book that leaves me too drained to read, I always pick up what I call a ‘taste-cleanser’. These are light, exciting, gripping book that doesn’t require too much thought or brainpower, just something for me to enjoy and admire (especially if it’s a graphic novel).

For taste-cleansers, I recommend reading mysteries, graphic novels, poetry, middle-grade novel, or maybe a cute YA romance. Usually, by the time I finish, I’ll always be back in the mood to read more.

4. Fanfics

Alright, you’re probably looking at me strangely right now, but hear me out: some fanfics are really good. I’m talking descriptive, well-developed plot, dynamic characters, realistic (or maybe unrealistic in a fantasy-type of way) storyline, and of course, finished and not left deserted halfway surrounded by the screams of avid fans.

I’ve heard of stories on Wattpad being turned into full-fledged, published books. Although I’m not sure if they are fanfiction, I’ve even heard of fanfics being turned into books (50 Shades of Grey by E.L. James, I’m looking at you). Fanfics are a great way to get back into reading, especially if it is from a series you’re interested in.

And hey, if you think about it, retellings are somewhat almost a fanfic too.

5. Take your time

There’s absolutely no need to force yourself to read if you don’t want to. Pushing yourself will only make you dread reading, and even worse, completely lose your interest in it.

Reading should be hobby, something that you can enjoy and of course, learn from (both hard skills and soft skills). If taking a break is what you need, that’s a 100% okay and normal.

You know yourself best.

Till then,

-J

REVIEW: Now You See Her

Now You See Her
by Mark R. Harris

get it here

BOOK SUMMARY:

15-year-old Luke Gray is in shock—his girlfriend Lonnie is moving, and he can’t follow her. Before she leaves, he gets her to promise to wait for him until they are 18. With Lonnie gone, Luke falls into a whirlpool of depression and fear. He tries to stay afloat via sarcasm, 1970s music, and fantasy. 

And then a new girl appears on the scene, Sherry, who seems perfect. Without giving up on Lonnie, Luke begins dating Sherry, and she keeps him on this side of insanity. His parents, though, notice disturbing changes in his behavior… and eventually Luke realizes that his relationship with Sherry has limits they can’t move beyond. So he befriends Julie, a clever, down-to-earth girl he quickly grows to love. But when Julie finds out that Luke has never let go of Lonnie, he’s forced to either try to find Lonnie or turn his back on her forever.


BOOK REVIEW: 

3.5 STARS

*A free PDF copy of this book was given in exchange for an honest review*

Meet 15-year-old Luke who spiralled into a land of music and talking to the radio after his girlfriend Lonnie had to move away. It was a struggle for him to be without and he was constantly reminded of her every day. Then, came Sherry, a girl from his church, who caught his eye. Perhaps she might be able to take his mind off Lonnie. And there was Julie, who he was interested in too.

I’ve wanted to venture into the land of romance and young puppy love but now I found out that it isn’t for me. I could not relate to the obsession that Luke had over Lonnie and how he needed someone by his side, every day. I also faced culture shock during some parts of the story like when Sherry could stay the night over at Luke’s. It was so foreign to me.

I didn’t like the first half of the book. I’ve had no interest in his love life with Sherry as it just doesn’t feel genuine. They had their love for music in common, they went to the same church, but overall, I wasn’t fond of it. Despite this part of the story being a little dry, it played a role in the story, emphasising how Luke still wasn’t able to get over Lonnie.

The second part of the book became much more interesting. Luke tries to find someone new who can take his mind off Lonnie. He eliminates from a list of girls who he was interested in and then settles on the girl who took notice of him, someone he has a chance with – Julie. She is by far my favourite character in the book. Although, I was disappointed that she changed so much after Luke admitted his feelings to her.

What I do find that was interesting was Luke’s faith in the Lord and how he often relied on signs for his love life. I like how this incorporates relying on the Lord in our lives, especially in choosing a life partner or a girlfriend/boyfriend as it is extremely important.

REVIEW: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
by Mark Haddon

get it here

BOOK SUMMARY:

Christopher John Francis Boone knows all the countries of the world and their capitals and every prime number up to 7,057. He relates well to animals but has no understanding of human emotions. He cannot stand to be touched. And he detests the color yellow.

Although gifted with a superbly logical brain, for fifteen-year-old Christopher everyday interactions and admonishments have little meaning. He lives on patterns, rules, and a diagram kept in his pocket. Then one day, a neighbor’s dog, Wellington, is killed and his carefully constructive universe is threatened. Christopher sets out to solve the murder in the style of his favourite (logical) detective, Sherlock Holmes. What follows makes for a novel that is funny, poignant and fascinating in its portrayal of a person whose curse and blessing are a mind that perceives the world entirely literally.


BOOK REVIEW: 

4 STARS

I was given this book by a friend who said this was her favourite book. It has become one of my favourites too.

15-year-old Christopher is extremely logical, doesn’t get metaphors and is autistic. He hates being touched, he doesn’t like being around strangers and he does not relate to human emotions. It is interesting to read how people with autism perceive things, and it really opens my eyes and makes me understand more.

This book was written like a diary and instead of chapters, it has numbers that separate each day and incident. It was different from many other books and I really love that. It comes with diagrams and equations and things that you don’t normally see in a book. It was refreshing and new. 

Christopher faces many difficulties in life. The biggest obstacle being his unfamiliarity with people and places hinder him from doing a lot of things. There were many incidents in this book that strongly emphasized how the way Christopher perceived things was so much more different from the way most people do. He hates the colour yellow and carries a bottle of red dye with him and he doesn’t understand what a high-five is, just to name a few.

In this book, Haddon writes of how a dysfunctional family tries to raise an autistic son. It is a book that touches on family feud, social disability and the best part, a murder case. There will be many unexpected twists along the way and how Christopher narrates it in an extremely logical way ties the story together, making it an enjoyable read. 

If there’d be any way that you can understand how a person with autism would perceive the world, this would be a simple start.

REVIEW: Declutter Your Mind Now – 22 Simple Habits To Declutter Your Mind & Live A Happier, Healthier And Stress-Free Life: Easy Ways To Eliminate Worry, Anxiety & Negative Thinking

Declutter Your Mind Now – 22 Simple Habits To Declutter Your Mind  & Live A Happier, Healthier and Stress-Free Life: Easy Ways To Eliminate Worry, Anxiety & Negative Thinking by Vic Carter

get it here


BOOK SUMMARY:

Declutter Your Mind Easily 
Would You Like To ELIMINATE NEGATIVE & STRESSFUL THOUGHTS From Your Mind? 
Do You Want To OVERCOME WORRY & ANXIETY? 
Are You Interested In Feeling MORE RELAXED, HAPPY & HEALTHY? 


In this book, I tell you about how you can get more peace, happiness and clarity into your life just like I did. I have gone through the process of decluttering my mind and practice the habits and techniques outlined in this book. 


I used to often feel overwhelmed, anxious and stressful prior to using the techniques in this book. I remember the days when I used to feel anxious about my work, stressed about different things in my life, and overwhelmed in general. I learned about and started practising the strategies listed in this book to ensure that I feel better and take care of my overall health. 


So, I have filled this book with step-by-step information, practical tips and useful suggestions to help you to declutter your mind, and live a MORE RELAXED, HAPPY & HEALTHY LIFE. 

This book, ‘22 Simple Habits To Declutter Your Mind & Live A Happier, Healthier And Stress-Free Life’ will show you how to: 
· Declutter your mind of negative thoughts and emotions 
· How to be free of worry, anxiety and stress 
· Be happier, more relaxed and stress-free 



BOOK REVIEW:


3 STARS

When I first received a copy of this book, I was thinking to myself “Wow, it is such a short read!”, to which Carter addressed in this book that he does not wish to clutter this book with unnecessary information. It is true, in less than 70 pages, you’re able to learn how to declutter your mind and this time, you will definitely be able to finish this self-help book.

22 Simple habits, all tried, tested and true to be able to help you declutter your mind. Some of them I’ve heard of before, some I’ve tried myself and it works. Some of the suggested ways may be a little bit difficult to start, like exercise or perhaps taking up a new hobby, but there are more ways that can be applied in day to day life. 

I do believe in the content as it has worked for me. In Declutter Your Mind Now, there are simple steps like being in the now, listing 3 positives for 1 negatives and choosing happy thoughts can be easily incorporated into our lives. It may seem difficult at first, but it should be cultivated and then it can come naturally.

Carter has also attached some more reading materials in every chapter for further reading if you wish to understand more. As for his book, only the basics of the ways to declutter your minds and benefits are provided.

REVIEW: Tributaries

Tributaries (American River, #1)
by Mallory M. O’Connor

get it here

BOOK SUMMARY:

In the mid-1800s, three immigrant familiesIrish, Japanese, and Mexicansettle along the American River in Northern California. A century later, only one family remains.
Owen McPhalans Mockingbird Valley Ranch is still a thriving family business in 1959. But when his wife, Marian, leaves Mockingbird to follow her dream of becoming a successful artist, she ignites a firestorm that impacts the descendants of all three families. As artists, musicians, writers, and politicians inherit their immigrant parents’ hopes, they are torn apart by ambition, prejudice, and deception while struggling through the turbulent 1960s. From the concert halls of Europe to Kyoto’s ancient avenues, and Manhattan’s artists’ lofts to San Francisco’s North Beach, they each learn the price they must pay in order to realize their dreams. But just as the river is drawn to the sea, they eventually find themselves pulled back to the place that forged the original link between their destinies is a place called Mockingbird.


American River: Tributaries follows three California families as the descendants of Irish, Japanese, and Mexican immigrants embark on unique journeys to pursue their dreams amid an unsettled 1960s world.

BOOK REVIEW: 
3 STARS

*A free PDF copy of this book was given in exchange for an honest review*

I wanted the story to be a surprise for me but I should’ve read the reviews first. Little did I know that it would contain a few explicit materials and would not have picked it up.

Right off the bat, I was confused about what was happening. There was a list of characters and their roles at the start which I loved but it was difficult to keep on scrolling back and forth to find out who was who. This made reading the first few chapters a little bit tough.

I love the way the relationship between the three families and how their paths intertwined, especially between the McPhalan and the Ashida’s. It was very creative, albeit a little disappointing that their role was being servants for the McPhalans. I especially love the storyline of the Morales’ family. There’s so much drama!

It was difficult for me to continue reading this story. One of the main reason was that I didn’t find the storyline to be interesting for me. This, of course, varies from one individual to another so do pick it up if you love drama. I, unfortunately, am not a big fan of it. Another reason was the fact that there were quite a handful of sexually explicit parts which I would tend to scroll past. I’ve decided to drop the book since I can’t do it justice.

American Rivers: Tributaries had tons of unexpected twists. There were some parts which I found to be a little problematic that could be overlooked in the story, after all, it is there to add to the drama. Overall, it was a well-written book that explored the lives of three families from different backgrounds and how their lives intertwine.

POPULAR BOOKFEST 2018

The long-awaited Popular BookFest is here once again! From June 9 to June 17, bookworms around Kuala Lumpur are able to enjoy the wonderful book sale and splurge on the books that they’ve been waiting to read. From YA novels, Chinese books, technology and even stationery, Popular BookFest has it all!

Unlike the previous years, I’ve had the opportunity to visit Popular Bookfest twice this year. The entrance fee was only RM2.50. It is free of charge for children 18 and under as well as for senior citizens aged 60 and above.

TIPS
1. Bring your own bag

The more environmentally friendly option to shop. Plastic bags will be charged at 20 cents in order to encourage using our own bags. It is also more rewarding to know that you’re doing a part in helping the environment. You also won’t have to worry about the plastic bags breaking.

2. Visit the stationery section and electronics first

I’ve only done this this time around and I highly recommend it. Usually, I’d visit the books section first instead of the stationery and electronics section. By the time I’ve bought my books, I’ve already spent 2 hours in the convention centre, exhausted and aching to go back home. Lunging around the crowded stationery and electronics section with heavy bags of books isn’t the most ideal shopping condition, after all. I’ll definitely start my day by heading off to the stationery section first as it gets crowded during the afternoon.

HERE’S THE LOOT!

The School for Good and Evil set usual RM134.90, now RM79.90

I’ve seen my friends read this book and the blurb really interested me. I would’ve not bought it but it was surprisingly cheap, so what’s the harm.

The Girl With Seven Names usual RM59.90, rebate 20%

After reading Yeonmi Park’s In Order to Live, I became more interested in wanting to hear what others faced in North Korea. I believe that everyone has a story to tell and I’d like to listen to Hyeonseo Lee’s story.

Aru Shah and the End of Time usual RM41.90, now RM29.90

I’ve never really thought of picking up this book either. I’ve seen my favourite author, Rick Riordan constantly posting and retweeting about this book on Twitter. Seeing that it was on sale, I’d decided to take a shot at it.

 Around the World in Eighty Days 25% rebate

I’ve been wanting to read this for a while now. It was difficult to find this book. Honestly, I am not quite sure what its’ about but I guess the title tells it all. I hope it’s filled with adventure!

Murder on the Orient Express  usual RM 39.90, now RM 27.90

I’ve heard wonders of Agatha Christie. I’ve also read a book review on this book that has made me quite intrigued by it. I’ve only added it to my TBR list a few weeks ago and I’m so glad to be able to tick it off! 

 One of Us Is Lying RM46.95, 25% rebate

I remember adding this to my TBR too a while back. I’ve already forgotten what the blurb was about but I am always up for a mystery novel!

The Diary of A Young Girl usual RM55.90, now RM14.90

I’d like to know about her life, the things she faced and her experiences. I am someone who likes reading autobiographies, just to get to know the person better. It has been a book that I’ve constantly seen and I’ve been waiting to pick it up but didn’t think I’d like. A new year, a new challenge. 

All that She Can See + On The Other Side usual RM42.90, 30% rebate

I’ve been a subscriber to Carrie’s YouTube channel for a while now. I’ve always wanted to read this really. I’m more excited by All that She Can See compared to On the Other Side, but either way, I’m thrilled to have seen these goodies on sale! 

My TBR is growing week by week with me trying to get more indie authors’ books to review as well as my habit of buying books faster than I read them. Nonetheless, I am glad to have rekindled my love of reading. Cheers to more book reviews in the future. I’m sure a review of some of these books here will be out in the future. Till then!

– J

REVIEW: The Peculiar Life of a Lonely Postman by Denis Thériault

The Peculiar Life of a Lonely Postman
by Denis Thériault

Get it here

BOOK SUMMARY:

Bilodo lives a solitary daily life, routinely completing his postal rounds every day and returning to his empty Montreal apartment. But he has found a way to break the cycle—Bilodo has taken to stealing people’s mail, steaming open the envelopes, and reading the letters inside. And so it is he comes across Ségolène’s letters. She is corresponding with Gaston, a master poet, and their letters are each composed of only three lines. They are writing each other haikus. The simplicity and elegance of their poems move Bilado and he begins to fall in love with her. But one day, out on his round, he witnesses a terrible and tragic accident. Just as Gaston is walking up to the post-box to mail his next haiku to Ségolène, he is hit by a car and dies on the side of the road. And so Bilodo makes an extraordinary decision—he will impersonate Gaston and continue to write to Ségolène under this guise. But how long can the deception continue for? Denis Thériault weaves a passionate and elegant tale, comic and tragic with a love story at its heart

BOOK REVIEW: 

3 STARS
What stood out for this book was the interesting plot. The idea that our trusted postman could be someone who finds thrill and excitement in reading our mail was the last thing I’d think of, and Thériault turned the whole idea into a book. What enticed me about the book was the haikus and the thought of communicating through haikus fascinated me, something I did not think was possible.

Bilodo was just like us – seeing a romantic love story and falling in love with one of the characters, infatuated with a love life that he wish he had. And when he saw his chance to be the next actor of this love story, he jumped at it.

The plot was interesting and somewhat different. It introduces different Japanese literary art like ‘tanka’, ‘renku’ and ‘enso’ but it happened all in a blur and I could not understand any of it. The only reason why I bothered continuing the book was to look for good haikus. Unfortunately, there were only few that stood out.

It was rather creepy of Bilodo to have such a hobby and it certainly made me wonder if any of the postmen did the same. He invaded the privacy of others, just for his mere enjoyment. Poor Ségolène, if only she knew. Their poor love story would never had happened.

The ending was unexpected, but nonetheless, I loved it. It felt as if the entire story had come to a full circle. It also leaves me wondering, had ‘Grandpré’ really been Grandpré?

TL:DR

I believe I expected too much from this book regarding the haikus. It was a good book in terms of the plot and how unique it was. However, some parts in the book was confusing, especially when the literary arts in Japan were mentioned.


A segment of this review has been first published on my Goodreads.

Online Brain (garbage) Dump

A blog. Because everyone needs somewhere to store their ideas and opinions. 

Hello there (if by chance, there would be anyone who’d be reading this). This an online brain dump page where I’ll store all my ideas, thoughts and basically anything that I’d like to do. 
As an only child who has issues expressing certain thoughts and opinions, sharing interests and basically finding it difficult to unleash my creativity, a blog would probably be a safe space to do so. 
As of now, I don’t have any solid idea about what I’d be posting here. Potentially book reviews, gushing about certain movies and characters, writing stories – just things that I enjoy that could probably find a home here. 
Currently, I post book reviews on Goodreads. However, I’d prefer a home for my reviews, which would probably be here on my blog! I’ll be posting some of my old book reviews here to get a foundation started for this new blog, it will be interesting, I suppose. 
Till the next post. 
– J