how I got out of my reading slump (this time)

2022, books

Hello!

I feel like there is no reader on the planet who is 100% consistently reading all the time – this year alone, I’ve had a couple of months where I’ve read 5 or 6 books and months where I’ve read one… or less.

(yes, some readers get through 30+ books a month and honestly, I can’t fathom reading that quickly/having that much free time – we work to our own goals! Comparison is the thief of joy, etc etc)

Though I still can’t pinpoint the exact reason why I fell into this slump, I’m 90% sure it was conveniently parallel to a severe drop in my mental health that saw me lose interest in literally everything that ever brought me joy, so rather than beat myself up about not reading enough (I was beating myself up about literally every other aspect of my life anyway), I just rode the wave. I didn’t want to read before bed – I’d play silly phone games with my partner, I’d do some creative writing or I’d just watch YouTube and fall asleep.

To then go into the following month with an unexpectedly lonely birthday, a change in mental health medication, suddenly finding myself jobless and still experiencing the worst depression I’ve ever felt, I didn’t have the energy to read!

What it took, was picking up a contemporary romance (my favourite genre) that I’ve been desperate to read for weeks and taking it to read by the sea when I highjacked my partner’s work trip for free transport to Brighton – after a long day of walking miles and miles and giving myself disgusting blisters, I sat on a bench on the sea front outside our hotel, watched the sunset, and started the book I would then become obsessed with and finish only six days later (which, for context, is fast for me).

Then I tumbled into reading the Heartstopper novella ‘Nick and Charlie’ (because my sibling loaned it to me while I was visiting them in Bournemouth, so I had a limited time to read it!) and finished it in 24 hours, all of which reignited my love for reading and I got back on track with what I’m meant to be reading.

I’m currently working through the middle-grade/YA Alex Rider series by Anthony Horowitz and ‘Point Blanc’ was actually brilliant – I rated it 4 stars, I thought it was clever, fast paced and actually funny (not in a ‘funny if I was 14’ way). And I finished it in six days as well! Bringing my total for October so far to 3 books and I’m back on track for my yearly goal of 36 books!

So here are my three tips for getting out of a reading slump, that I will inevitably ignore myself next time I’m in a reading slump:

One take the pressure off – forcing yourself to read isn’t going to be fun and reading should be a relaxing escape. If your reading time is in the evening and you’re not feeling it, do something else. If your reading time is audiobooks while you’re driving and you want to listen to music instead, you jam away my friend. If you feel like you should be reading more than you want to read, do what you can to separate the obligation from something that should be a nice hobby.

Two – choose something that makes you excited to read again – I’ve recently started a tbr jar and whilst I was excited about it at first, it does mean I don’t always want to read what I pull out. So choosing ‘Love on the Brain’ as a book I was so excited to get stuck into, in my favourite genre, in an engaging, easy to read writing style was perfect for me because it made me excited to read again!

Three – if you do want to ‘kick-start’ your reading habit again, try and make a thing out of it (stay with me) – I carried my book round Brighton all day because I wanted to read by the beach while the sunset. This was two fold in that I was setting up the loveliest reading environment to start a new book and if I didn’t read, it would have been a waste of carrying it round all day. Not sure if it’s the healthiest way to look at it, but it works on my brain so I’m rolling with it!

The crux of it all is that life happens and it has a really great habit of getting in the way of the things that make us happy sometimes, but there is always a way back.

Happy reading!

Sophie xx

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Love on the Brain – Ali Hazelwood – 5 STAR REVIEW

2022, books, review

Hello!

It’s a miracle – I’ve just finished reading an actual book for the first time in three months!

I’ve been in a slump and I knew a guaranteed win would be the way to get back into it – I absolutely adored The Love Hypothesis, Ali Hazelwood’s debut novel and hugely popular book on TikTok (that originally started as Star Wars fanfiction, I love that fact!). I loved that it had such a fantastic narrative for women in STEM, I loved the insight into the life of a pHD scientist in America and the romance storyline was just fantastic, I gobbled it up.

Not to mention the spicy scenes. But I know my mum reads my posts so I won’t go into too much detail on that front.

I’ve been on a book buying ban for the whole year so far. Don’t get me wrong, I have caused books to be bought (thank you fiancé and parents ❤️) but when I got a book voucher for my birthday I was very excited to use it and knew immediately that I was going to buy Love on the Brain, even though I knew literally nothing about it.

Neuroscientist Bee has had a pretty turbulent first 28 years of her life – from losing her parents as a toddler, to being sent all over Europe and North America to live with a variety of family members with her twin Reike, to settling in the US for college, meeting and breaking up with fiancé Tim after he slept with her best friend Annie and she gave up on a fantastic career opportunity to get away from them and work with sleazy, sexist boss Travis at the National Institute for Health.

When she’s chosen to lead a fantastic new project at NASA called BLINK, working on developing helmets for astronauts that use neural stimulation to aid concentration she’s beyond thrilled – she sees her career blossoming in glittering lights… Until she finds out she will actually be co-leading the project with Dr Levi Ward, who’d made it glaringly obvious when their pHD placements overlapped that he didn’t like her, and she’s dreading working with him again.

(I hope that doesn’t spoil anything!)

Bee has such a fun narrative – she was so realistic and her side comments had me consistently laughing out loud, aptly described by my fiancé as ‘an evil giggle’. She was instantly likeable and the way she was written made the neuroscience and STEM aspects of the plot so accessible – no, I don’t know what all the big words mean and the chapter titles were a bunch of jumbly letters (I think they were parts of the brain?), but I didn’t need to. Whenever any work related jargon would appear in the dialogue, it was written brilliantly enough to be totally comprehendible.

And don’t get me started on Levi – he’s every romance booktooker’s new fictional boyfriend; tall, gorgeous, physically fit and has a wonderful, wonderful way with words, I know I won’t be able to get him off my mind for a while. I literally told my fiancé he should read Love on the Brain to get tips from Levi (in the most loving way possible, of course).

Not only were the protagonists wonderful, but the ongoing plot was delicious and the twist at the end??? The last 50 odd pages were an absolutely whirlwind and very, very much took my by surprise. I was wholeheartedly enthralled from beginning to end, which only took me six days (which considering I’ve been in a reading slump for three months, is nothing short of overwhelming evidence that this book is bloody brilliant).

I honestly have no criticisms about Love on the Brain – I adored the characters, the plot was fun, exciting and then very dramatic and honestly I learned a lot about Marie Curie, which is always a bonus to learn something new!

A very, very enthusiastic 5 star review from me ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

the girl on the underground | creative writing

2017, lifestyle, photography, student, travel

He was dressed all smart, headphones in his ears like everyone else – he didn’t even need to think about his route to work and back anymore because he did it every day. But this time he was staring at the message on his phone – tears silently running down his face because the words he’d never wanted her to say were staring back at him from the screen, with no provocation whatsoever.

He didn’t know what to do – he nearly missed his stop to change to a different line on the underground and he felt like he was being pushed along by the crowd of people rushing to get home to dinner.

Another escalator, another flight of stairs, another train, another tear as he took another longing glance at the text he couldn’t reply to yet.

Part of him didn’t want to leave the underground – if his phone couldn’t reconnect to the outside world he’d never have to reply to that text or make the corresponding phone call or have that argument. He could just ride the train till the end of the line then ride it all the way back.

But he couldn’t – he had to walk his dog and make dinner and go to sleep so he could do all this again tomorrow. Hopefully without repeating the text.

He got off the underground at his stop, slowly meandering amongst the other commuters, staring at his phone.

“Excuse me! Sir! You dropped your ticket!” He heard, someone breathlessly tapping on his shoulder behind him.

He turned to see the short girl in the oversized coat, her poker straight hair falling out of the ponytail that secured it and a faded red lip smiling at him after a day of wear.

But her face dropped and instantly moulded into an expression of concern. “Are you okay?” She asked.

He was frozen, he realised he wasn’t saying anything – he was just loosely holding the ticket she’d handed him in his hand.

“Sorry, I shouldn’t have asked – who’d tell a stranger why they were crying on the underground? Sorry, hope your day gets better.” She fumbled.

“No,” He instantly responded, grabbing her wrist as she tried to walk past him and she stopped without reluctance. “Sorry, just been dumped after four years by text.” He blurted. “Wow, that was pathetic.”

“No, it’s not, you’re allowed to be heartbroken.”

“I don’t know why I told you.”

“I have one of those faces; people trust me with stuff.” She shrugged; she exuded this positive, happy mood with her dishevelled, messy hair and her biker boots and that smile that just didn’t seem to stop nagging at the corner of her lips.

“That doesn’t mean you always want to hear it.” He replied after a few moments silence – his brain wasn’t quite processing a full capacity and he could stop noticing her little smile.

“It’s alright. Do you have a train to catch?” She asked.

“Yeah.” He sighed.

“Why are you still standing here then?” She seemed genuinely intrigued.

“I don’t know.”

“I think you should text her back.” She smiled again, reaching into her pocket and pulling out a card. “Give it a few weeks, maybe a month or two. Don’t rush anything. You’ll be okay.”

Four months later he found out her husband had left her that day.

They didn’t often travel by train.


Hello!

I started writing this post when I was commuting in and out of London every day, but then I was home handling a family emergency and I couldn’t even think about blogging, but I didn’t want the post to go to waste so I finished it off and uploaded it today!

I was doing another journey home anyway so it was fitting that I wrote the beginning of the story on a train and finished it there true. I’m pretty done with trains, but they’re the only way I can really get home so I haven’t got much of a choice.

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

 

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