A Guide to Ending Reader’s Block with Jenna Shillingburg

Imagine you have time to spare and you pick up a book you’ve had your eye on for a while. You’ve prepared a happy place to start reading with a hot beverage and some sunlight and a comfy chair. You breathe in the joy of the relaxing experience and crack open the book … only to find that you cannot focus at all on the words in front of you. You close the book in frustration and may even feel betrayed by the book for putting you in this situation.

This can happen to all of us at some point. I call it Reader’s Block and it can happen at any time. Today I’m here to help you battle through Reader’s Block and suggest some changes you can make to your reading habits:

  • First, I suggest you change HOW you read. If you’re a purely physical book reader, try reading on a digital platform or try an Audiobook and vice versa. Audiobooks have changed dramatically since they first appeared in the mid-2000’s and professional narrators can provide a captivating atmosphere that pulls the reader into the story in a new and exciting way. Davina Porter, the narrator for the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon (the basis for the show on Starz), does a stunning job at creating an authentic and accented voice for each of the MANY characters that are introduced. Moira Quirk is also a fantastic voice actor and has been featured in cartoons and video games since her appearance on Nickelodeon in the early 2000’s as Eliza Thornberry on The Wild Thornberrys. Sometimes authors will read their own works as is the case with many of Neil Gaiman’s works. I love listening to his melodic voice and knowing that everything is pronounced exactly right because who can read a work better than the author?

  • I’ve had many people tell me that they don’t have the attention span for audiobooks, and that’s perfectly okay. Perhaps you should switch up your reading with a Graphic Novel instead. Graphic Novels have become much more highbrow and include many amazing works such as the critically acclaimed Watchmen by Alan Moore and FABLES by Bill Willingham which has won 14 Eisner awards since 2003. Currently Maus by Art Spiegleman has garnered much attention as a banned book this year and details the troubled relationship of the cartoonist with his father who was a Holocaust survivor. If these topics are too heavy for you, there are tons and tons of lighthearted superhero Graphic Novels that will be sure to delight the child within you and any reading counts as reading.

  • If you can’t see yourself giving up your physical books for audio or Graphic Novels, perhaps you should try a new genre. Whether you dip into mystery, romance, science-fiction, non-fiction, or YA, changing your genre may be enough to break through your Reader’s Block and get your reading again.

  • Perhaps you would like to change your reading but don’t know where to start. There are many websites that can help you find your next great book including Goodreads, Storygraph and Likewise mobile. There are also a slew of book clubs, celebrity and otherwise, if you need or want to discuss the book you’ve been reading with others. If you want more of a human approach to book selections, check out your local public library and ask a librarian what they would recommend. This works just as well at any bookstore, big box or independent, that you may frequent. And as always, my Reader’s Advisory website is always open at: The Book Hangover Is Real. Readers LOVE to recommend books so don’t be shy about asking for some of their favorites.

I’d like to end this post with a final word of advice: Don’t give up on the book that started your Reader’s Block. That book just may not be the right book for you RIGHT NOW. Try revisiting it at a later date and make your final judgement then.

Thank you for joining me and I hope your brain finds peace in new and surprising books this month!Take care and check me out on the first Friday in April when I talk about all things bookish. For questions or comments, please write to thebookhangoverisreal@gmail.com or follow me on Instagram @thebookhangoverisreal

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