Ever been in a reading slump?
Once because I was part of a critique website whilst also writing my own novel. I had to read so much work by critique buddies that I didn’t have time for anything else. Now you might say – but this is reading. I would argue that “critiquing” is a very different thing to “reading” – and during this time I didn’t read ANY novels AT ALL.
The second time was the worst and was mostly because I’d had two (soon to be three) children – and exhaustion got the better of me. In this slump, I only read a couple of books – Dance of Dragons was one – but that was only because I was already a huge GOT fan and even then I struggled to make time.
So what to do if you get stuck in a reading slump?
Here are my fantasy book recommendations that I think could help you out of a slump. There are no Malazans or Wheel of Time’s here – they are for when you’re in the reading zone. These books have been selected because they all have something a little bit different about them and I’m positive one of them will reignite your reading habit!
1. The Novella
A novella is a good idea if you are in a slump. They are short and often standalone. No epic journey to start, there is no complex political or magical systems to understand, and you don’t have to pick up a book that could double as a paperweight.
An excellent novella I read recently was Fireheart Tiger by Aliette De Bodard. Excellent prose, excellent story, and excellent world building. You will leave it wanting more – which is just the feeling you need to get out of a slump!
2. The Hook
Sometimes you just need that first line or paragraph to reel you in. Mark Lawrence is one such writer with a knack for creating an epic hook. Red Sister has the best opener I have ever come across.
In which case, I don’t need to convince you to read this, I’ll let Mr Lawrence do that for himself.
It is important, when killing a nun, to ensure that you bring an army of sufficient size. For Sister Thorn of the Sweet Mercy Convent Lano Tacsis brought two hundred men.First paragraph of Red Sister by Mark Lawrence
3. The Comfort Blanket.
This is the book that got me out of reading slump number two. Exhaustion fog and baby brain really had me not wanting to pick up a book. I didn’t think my brain would actually work well enough to take anything in.
I picked up Malice one day and thought I’d give it a go – and it essentially cured me from my slump.
Well, John Gwynne has a fantastic way of writing and the story is a little bit familiar (which is why I call it a comfort blanket). Initially it seemed like an easy read. The prose and characters were fantastic but my brain wasn’t being overly stretched by a new story. But then I got about 200 hundred pages in, the story heated up, all the tropes got put on their head – and it was chaos.
I realised I had been lured into a false sense of security – but by then it was too late to stop, and I suddenly found myself at the end of a four book series without knowing what hit me.
4. The Stand Alone Novel
Sometimes the thought of any series, no matter how good, is just too much.
A good standalone novel can really work.
The Night Circus is a lovely book. A great story, a bit of romance, and completely different to anything I had read before. I found it quite pacey, never lingering for too long in any scene, and I think this could certainly pull any reader out of a slump.
5. The Shock
So if you’re a fantasy reader there are a lot of tropes to contend with. How many stories start with a Luke Skywalker/Frodo Baggins/Harry Potter/Rand al’ Thor/Kaladin who then somehow end up on a magical adventure. Lots, right? It’s a great devise fantasy writers use to world-build. They create a young naive character who doesn’t know much so other characters can explain the “world” to them in a way that is believable, thus educating the reader at the same time.
Malice did this to an extent, as the character of Corban very much filled this role.
But if you’re not in the mood for this, or have read too many familiar type stories, sometimes getting shocked out of the reading slump will work.
And that is why I suggest The Court of Broken Knives by Anna Smith Spark. This is a very grim grimdark story. Characters are not always sympathetic, the rules of this world are dark, but the prose is AMAZING. It’s almost literary in nature. I think the sheer brilliance of the novel, the subverting of expectations, and the prose might just shock you out of that feeling that “you’ve read this before” and take you away somewhere that is very new.
Hopefully one of these books has wet your appetite! Thanks for reading and let me know if you have any other suggestions!
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