Reading Slumps & Stepping Out of My Comfort Zone

I like to call myself an avid reader. I enjoy reading, I read all the time, and I find a lot of joy out of it! I know some people aren’t like that, but I personally really enjoy it. Sometimes, I find myself getting into a dreaded reading slump. 

A reading slump to me is a period of time where I don’t read because I can’t find any book appealing to me, or when I just can’t bring myself to pick up a book. If there are times I don’t have time to read—I don’t call those slumps. Just times where I don’t feel like reading, most likely because I can’t find a book to read. 

I really hate getting into these slumps. I want to read a book, but I just can’t. Recently, I’ve gotten myself out of a long slump—and I got out of it by reading outside my comfort zone. 

Over the course of quarantine, I didn’t read. I mostly read online—short stories, comics, but not a long novel or a published book. It really confused me, because I had a shelf filled with books I have yet to read, but I couldn’t bring myself to sit down and read. I attempted to sit down and try, but I just couldn’t get into the story. The genre of the book was Young Adult fiction—a genre I always found myself reading. Yet, I just couldn’t get into the story. I wondered why. 

It honestly really concerned me. I feared I lost my love for reading, and that I couldn’t find happiness in it anymore. That was until I found myself reading another genre—poetry and prose. 

Most of my life, I’ve found myself staying in one genre—young adult fiction or children’s fiction. It was the genre that made me the happiest, and one of the easiest genres to read. I never really dabbled in historical fiction, fantasy, non-fiction, or poetry. It wasn’t that I didn’t like reading it, it was just that I didn’t feel comfortable reading those genres. I tend to get confused or bored—and once I get confused and bored, I just never finish the book. 

That was until I discovered The Waves by Virginia Woolf. 

I became very intrigued very quickly—the way Woolf wrote her characters and her style in The Waves was confusing, but I found myself enjoying it! It felt like reading poetry, or really flowery prose. It was beautiful, moving, and I found myself getting teary-eyed throughout. I had never read a book like this before, and it surprised me when I found myself absolutely falling in love with it. 

The Waves is what made me start to branch out of young adult fiction. Don’t get me wrong, I still read a lot of young adult fiction—but now, I feel comfortable reading other genres. After The Waves, I decided to read more older books, which meant I had to try harder at understanding the language. I decided to read Russian classics—Dostoyevsky, Pushkin, Chekhov. It felt good to read those. 

I also started to read plays, like Much Ado About Nothing, As You Like It, Coriolanus, Betrayal. When I found myself understanding the messages and getting really into it, I felt really good. Then, I started branching out into fantasy—Ender’s Game, American Gods, and The Gilded Wolves. 

That is what got me out of my reading slump! After The Waves, I ended up reading eleven books in two weeks. Yeah… it really shocked me how one book can get you out of a year long stump! And a book outside of my comfort zone, nonetheless. 

Reading out of your comfort zone can be daunting, but I promise it reaps so many benefits. You are able to talk to more people about the books you read, expose yourself to new themes and new styles of writing, and you never know—you may be able to expand your comfort zone to a wider range of books.

– Claire C.

Fall Life Hack: Back to Time Management Habits

As a high school student, I know how hard it is to stay on top of your work, keep up your grades, and juggle multiple extra curricular activities. Sometimes, it seems like there just isn’t enough time in the day to accomplish everything that needs to get done. Key word: seems. Albeit difficult, time management is possible for everyone, regardless of your number of weighted classes or extracurricular activities. Here are a few tips to get you started on your path to a more organized and relaxed life.

To begin, take some time every Monday to schedule out your week. Know that any major assignments that you have are going to take up a considerable amount of time, and also count on minor assignments adding up to become time consuming tasks. Then, display your schedule in a planner or in another prominent place. I have a few whiteboard stickers on the wall above my desk to help me stay organized, but you can use whatever system works for you.

As your week goes on, try not to procrastinate assignments, big or small. Sometimes, this is impossible. Whenever you can, do homework that isn’t due the next day. Remember that in a world where homework is continuously assigned, you can’t always count on being physically able to do a project in a single night, especially if other teachers assign homework to you on that specific day. Also, remember that all of those small assignments add up! Try not to let them get the best of you.

Finally, reward yourself! Being a student is hard work, and if you study a lot like me, you still deserve to feel like a teenager. Take time after school to unwind, even if this just involves eating a snack or browsing your social media for ten minutes. This seems like it would be counterproductive, but if you let yourself take a break, you will be more productive when you go back to work.

I will admit that my word on this subject is by no means final, these are just a few habits that help me keep myself in check. Procrastinating never leads to less stress, it just compounds the stress you feel at a given time to a later date. With finals edging closer, staying on top of your work becomes even more important! To all of my fellow students, good luck, and I hope that this article helps you feel a little bit more in control of your school life.

-Mirabella S.