After graduating from college a few years back (and having read more in 4 years than I had in my entire lifetime), I resolved to read more. I wanted to read everything—more classics, the popular books, more poetry…really anything I could get my hands on. The problem I didn’t think about? I had NO time—And I was so burnt out from reading so much in school that I didn’t even know where to start.
So many of us have full time jobs, a family, housework, and extracurriculars. It can be difficult to find the time to sit down and put our feet up, let alone read. Most days, there just aren’t enough hours in the day.
If you’ve ever found yourself starting a book and getting too busy to finish it, or maybe reading halfway through a novel to realize you’ve forgotten what happened to the characters since you last picked it up—This post is for you.
In all of the years I’ve enjoyed books, I’ve gone through my fair share of reading slumps. To be honest, most of them have been the result of too many books and not enough time. If you’ve ever struggled to get through a slump (or maybe you’re in one right now) here are a few different recommendations to get you started.
If there’s any romance author I look for when I’m in a book slump—it’s Helen Hoang. Let’s be real, it’s pretty much impossible to fall in love with Hoang’s carefully developed characters and she has a talent for bringing incredibly realistic stories to life.
The Bride Test, Helen Hoang
The first book I ever read of Helen Hoang’s (and my favorite), The Bride Test is a quick read that you won’t soon forget.
My is a young mother, living in Vietnam. She’s always felt out of place, making her way by cleaning to provide for her family. One day, while working, she walks into an opportunity she know she can’t resist—go to America and make an American boy fall in love with her. Faced with nothing but pure determination and a new name, Esme (My) arrives in San Francisco realizing seducing a stranger is going to be harder than she thought—especially when she learns her betrothed is Autistic.
While I love all of Helen Hoang’s books, The Bride Test is a quick, easy read coming in at under 300 pages, and features little snippets of humor that would help any reader get through a book slump. You can check purchase The Bride Test by clicking here.
Out of all of the different genres Literature has to offer, I find mysteries are usually the easiest for me to pick up (and finish) when I’m in a book slump. After all, it’s kind of impossible to put a book down when the entire book is basically a giant “who done it.” One of my favorite mysteries I’ve read lately? Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell
Then She Was Gone, Lisa Jewell
Lisa Jewell is one of my all-time favorite mystery writers (right up there with Tana French). Jewell has a way of crafting and weaving so the ending is always a surprise, and Then She Was Gone is no different.
Laurel Mack, mother of three, is trying to put her life together. 10 years after her daughter’s disappearance, her family has entirely broken up and she feels she’s the only one still holding out hope that her daughter is out there. Desperately trying to find peace with her daughter’s disappearance, Laurel meets Floyd, a charming man in a café. It’s not long before Floyd introduces Laurel and her family to his youngest, Poppy, who seems to be the spitting image of Laurel’s missing daughter.
Faced with questions she doesn’t have answers to, Laurel realizes she has to finish her daughter’s story. Where did Ellie go? Did she run away from home like the police said? Or does Poppy have something more than Ellie’s looks in common with Laurel?
While 350 pages might seem daunting when picking up a new book, Jewell will have any reader devouring Laurel’s story in days. You can purchase Then She Was Gone by clicking here.
Simone St. James—Not sure that there’s even anything more to say here. Just kidding. You might have read my most recent review of St. James’, The Book of Cold Cases and maybe you’re questioning whether St. James is really for you. Let me tell you—don’t ever turn down the option to pick up a St James novel. One of my favorites of Simone St. James’s novels is The Broken Girls. It picked me up out of a bad reading slump last summer and I just haven’t been able to stop thinking about it since.
The Broken Girls, Simone St. James
A haunting academia ghost story, a reporter with a mysterious family history, and a school that is intended to be “refurbished”—these are just a few of the elements The Broken Girls has in store.
Fiona Sheridan is a reporter writing for a small newspaper that never seems to cover anything important. Instead, it’s readers are more interested in recipes and hometown sporting events. After the mysterious death of her older sister, Fiona is destined for more—she wants to write about murders—and not just any murders. After finding out the famous school where her sister died is to be renovated, Fiona is determined to find out what really happened. She knows that there’s more to the story and she’s convinced her sister’s boyfriend wasn’t the culprit, though he’s sitting in a cell serving the time for it.
As Fiona digs deeper into secrets that no-one wants to unearth again, she learns of the girls who lived at Idlewild Hall in the 1950s and the mysterious reasons they were brought there in the first place. In a world full of “troublemakers” and the “illegitimates,” Fiona knows there’s a diamond in the rough somewhere and Idlewild Hall is more than what the locals think they know.
At 336 pages, The Broken Girls is a quick read with a little bit of a murder mystery, a little bit of a ghost story, and a whole lot of intrigue. You can purchase a copy by clicking here.
I’ll admit, I’m not the biggest fan of Drama. There are definitely other genres I would pick if I were in a reading slump. Though, there is one book in the drama category that I’ll never stop talking about—The Bookshop of Yesterdays.
I came across this book at Barnes and Noble and had never heard of it before. Since reading this novel, I can honestly say it is SO underhyped and it deserves more publicity! This book is a debut novel and is by far the best debut I’ve ever read. Filled with drama, family mystery, and a failing bookshop, there’s so much to unpack in this one.
The Bookshop of Yesterdays, Amy Meyerson
Miranda Brooks grew up in a normal family home. Her mom and dad had the right jobs, the white picket fence, and they had Miranda to show for it. But, once a year on her birthday, Miranda had the opportunity to spend time with her eccentric Uncle Billy, a scientist and bookstore owner. Miranda looks forward to seeing her uncle every year—and the books he lets her pick out every year for her birthday. Until, on Miranda’s twelfth birthday, her mom and her uncle have a mysterious falling out and Uncle Billy suddenly disappears from her life. She doesn’t hear from him again until sixteen years later when she receives an unexpected letter in the mail to her Los Angeles apartment. It turns out Billy has died and he’s left her his infamous bookstore, which is one disaster short of closing it’s doors.
Left with a book-themed scavenger hunt, her uncle’s apartment, and the bookstore underneath it, Miranda might finally figure out what happened between her family, but it will take giving up everything she’s ever known to find the answers she may or may not want to hear.
The Bookshop of Yesterdays is a story that will make you question everything you thought you might have known about family, values, and forgiveness. You can purchase this 364-page novel from Amazon here.
Historical Fiction is one of my favorite genres, but it’s not always a great one to get out of a slump.
There are a few books I’ve found un-slump-worthy in this genre (The Orphan Train by Kristina Baker Kline anyone?), but one I just recently stumbled upon is lesser known and unlike anything I’ve ever read: When Stars Rain Down.
When Stars Rain Down, Angela Jackson-Brown
Angela Jackson-Brown’s second novel, When Stars Rain Down, is the story of 18-year-old Opal living in Parsons Georgia in 1936.
Opal knows that the world is more separated than it should be, and in 1936 skin color has more to do with it than anyone would like. Though slavery has long been abolished, African Americans are still doing laborious work for whites and the town of Parsons is as segregated as it comes.
Opal has lived a quiet life, tucked away in “Colored Town” with her Granny Birdie. She hopes to live up to her grandmother’s expectations and that means working hard and keeping her head down. But, when the Ku Klux Klan unexpectedly descends on Opal’s neighborhood, the entire community is shaken. The entire town finds it hard to ignore the complicated racial inequities Parsons is home to, with Opal at the center of the story.
This coming-of-age novel comes in right over 350 pages and its natural dialogue and easy tone make this novel one of my top recommendations for getting out of a reading slump. You can check out this book on Amazon here.
This genre is a tough one for me. While there are some fantasy-adjacent books that I love, I find myself leaning more towards Sci-Fi than Fantasy in general. One of my favorite ways to mix fantasy novels into my TBR list is through mixed genres, like Alice Hoffman’s The World That We Knew. If you’ve read any of Alice Hoffman’s books, you’re probably more familiar with something like Practical Magic.
Though I’ve been familiar with Hoffman’s books in the past, I didn’t prioritize her on my list until I saw a display in our local library about Jewish Authors. I hadn’t realized that Hoffman’s grandmother was a Russian-Jewish Immigrant. But low and behold, there on a shelf, I came across The World That We Knew, and I haven’t stopped thinking about it since. I will NEVER stop recommending this book and once you read it, you’ll see why.
The World That We Knew, Alice Hoffman
It’s 1941 in Berlin and Hanni Kohn’s world is changing. The Nazi regime has begun rounding up Jewish inhabitants and her and her daughter will be forced into a short lifetime of misery if they’re caught. Left with nothing but hope, Hanni goes out in the night and breaks curfew to find a rabbi who is known for his mysterious gifts. When the rabbit turns her away, it is his daughter, Ettie, that offers salvation for Hanni’s daughter. Ettie creates a magical Jewish creature, a rare golem, who is sworn to protect Hanni’s daughter, Lea. Once Ava is brough to life, she, Lea, and Ettie, will become eternally entwined, no matter where they are.
Leaving her mother and life as she knows it behind, Lea travels with Ava seeking safety in a tumultuous world. The World That We Knew follows their unique journey and the sacrifices, courage, and love that the characters hold with them as they search for the life Hanni wanted Lea to have.
The World That We Knew is 364 pages and the hardcover version if formatted nicely for anyone that struggles with long chapters. This story is one that will stick with you and keep you reading until the very end. You can purchase this novel by clicking here.
Last, but not least, let’s talk Sci-Fi. Now, I’m not the biggest Sci-Fi reader, but I love a good dystopian novel and I find myself reaching for sci-fi more often than I’d care to admit. While there are a lot of great sci-fi books, some of them can be lengthy and difficult to manage, especially when you have limited time to read.
If you’re struggling to get through a book, but you love Sci-Fi, look no further than the YA section. Though these books are meant for teens, there’s no age limit on enjoying a good story. I’ve found some of the best sci-fi novels on the shelves on the YA section (The Hunger Games and the 5th Wave, just to name a few). While there are a few really popular ones that I’ve enjoyed, I want to recommend a little bit of a lesser known one, The Grace Year.
The Grace Year—Kim Ligget
While Kim Ligget has a few other novels, The Grace Year is the first of its kind (and let’s be real, I’m dying for her to release another YA!).
“The Grace Year” is the term given to girls in their sixteenth year. The girls are sent out into the wild to “release their magic” for the year and return to the town purified and ready to marry.
Tierney James is terrified to life her “Grace Year”, but she wants more than the life she has. As she treks out into the woods with the other girls, facing poachers and the brutal elements of the wild, Tierney is tested beyond what she ever expected.
Though the girls are never allowed to speak of The Grace Year upon returning, Tierney learns lessons that will stick within her memories long beyond the year she spends in the woods.
The Grace Year is 416 pages, and though the longest novel on this list, I can guarantee it will draw in readers in more ways than one—but you’ll have to read it for yourself to find out. You can check out this novel by clicking on this link.
There are so many more books I’d love to add to this list, but alas then it would probably be too hard to choose which one to read first!
Comment and let me know what your longest reading slump was and how you go through it. Do you think there were any books I should have added to this list?