Reader’s Block- A Modern Day Phenomenon

Reader's Block- A Modern Day Phenomenon

You’ve probably heard writers complain about being unable to write due to “Writer’s Block.” But, have you ever heard of someone who is unable to read due to “Reader’s Block”? We’ve all been in that situation. Your eyes glaze over, and you can’t get past the first paragraph on the page. Or maybe you just can’t seem to get yourself to pick up a book in the first place. This problem, now known as “Reader’s block,” is well-documented, and even avid readers experience it from time to time.

What exactly is “reader’s block”?

Stuart Jeffries, a journalist and author who is widely credited with coining the phrase “reader’s block” in one of his 2008 pieces, defines it as a problem that readers face as a result of the pressure they feel to read critically acclaimed or canonical novels, even if they don’t enjoy them.

What causes reader’s block?

There are several reasons why this phenomenon is even more visible today. It can be attributed to modernity and its various stressors. Take the pandemic, for instance. Studies show that in these past two years, the problem of reader’s block exacerbated. Stress and anxiety brought on by the pandemic have impaired attention spans. The relentless use of technology and social media has shortened our attention span. Our cognitive load, or the amount of information we can keep in our working memory at any given time, has decreased. Thus, we find ourselves with the same book by our bedside table for months on end. In addition to this, several scholars agree that an added issue is the overwhelming number of books there are to choose from. As a result, we feel helpless in the face of having to decide on the most “acceptable” category and are “pressured” to read them.

How to overcome reader’s block?

The good news is that reader’s block is not incurable, but it might require a little creativity and effort on your part. As we mentioned before, you’re not alone. Here are some tips to help you get back on track with your reading goals for 2022.

  1. Try a new genre

If you’ve only read one type of book for a long time, you can be burned out on that genre. You may not even be aware that you’ve been doing it, but a part of you is probably bored. Stop going straight to the same department every time you walk into a bookstore. Go to a different shelf and see what you can find. Try some YA, science fiction, fantasy, mystery, or romance books!

  1. Revisit an old favourite

One of the finest methods to get rid of the book blahs is to reread a favourite. It is, in fact, one of the most wonderful feelings in the world. When you reread an old favourite, you remember why you enjoy reading, how a fictitious character can connect with you so intimately, what clever wordplay exists in the universe, and what diabolical drama a writer can conjure. What a world of literary possibilities!

  1. Stick to Your Comfort Zone

It’s better to pick a book from a genre you’re familiar with while you’re coming out of a reading slump. Alternatively, you might read a book by your favourite author. You will be more immersed in the book and will be able to push yourself harder to finish it because you already know their writing style and what to expect from them.

  1. Change The Format of Reading

You may become frustrated or bored if you have been consuming media in the same format for a long time. In that instance, a switch can help make reading more enjoyable. If you’ve only read paperbacks thus far, try an e-book. Or, start listening to an audiobook of your choice.

  1. Begin by reading small

Often, larger pieces of writing can appear intimidating when you’re in a reading slump. You might want to try shorter pieces like short stories or poems. What’s more, you can even read summaries of bestselling books conveniently on several online platforms like Pencil. 

When you have reader’s block, your body and brain are usually trying to tell you something. Maybe you’re forcing yourself to read novels you don’t want to read, or maybe you’re putting too much effort into a book that isn’t right for you. The reasons may vary from time to time. However, whenever it occurs, you can take help from the aforementioned tips and get back on your reading journey.

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