Tips for overcoming reader's block


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I just use Godard’s technique of reading the first page followed by the last page.

It was the best of times; It was the worst of times.

Some stuff happens…

“It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known.”


I’ve had reader’s block for years, but I generally ascribe it to burn out from working in publishing. I still work in publishing, but in production for an academic publisher. I don’t need to read any fiction. But the ‘revisit old friends’ method has some value. Not long ago I reread Gene Wolfe’s Book of the New Sun, which I still enjoyed but of course was a somewhat different experience from when I was in high school in 1981.


easy. get off screens. read paper.


Hey @beschizza I also had this issue. One thing that helped was to read at a specific time (night time). Added benefit of not eyeing a screen.

If you have Amazon Prime, the prime music station has a bunch of free instrumental stations like “atmospheric electronic” or “ambient” that plays commercial free, chill music.

Set a sleep timer (in iOS just set an alarm and select “stop playing” for the notification) and let yourself zone out if you’re having trouble reading. You’ll probably find that the book feels more engagingthan some random new age waterfall noises, but if you don’t you might accidentally induce mindfulness. Win win!


I had massive reading block for non-fiction after studying at university (part of the reason why i dropped out while writing my master’s thesis). I almost got physically sick from reading even a newspaper article.

I overcame my block by only reading comics and light sf/fantasy books for a few years - though I still shy away from reading long non-fiction books, sticking mainly to articles. So I will expand the “try another genre” advice to also “try another format”.


I picked up Shirley Jackson’s Novels and Stories a few years ago and it definitely helped with this. The book is a good combination of 2-3 page short stories and all the way up thru the 100-150 page “We Have Always Lived in the Castle” and “The Haunting of Hill House” (which has about as much to do with the show as Citizen Kane does with a book about sledding).


Spoiler Alert!


I’ve never had that but I think that this might help.






For me reader’s block has to do with just being unable to find myself in the mood to read, once i start to read i typically go all in… which also comes with its set of problems as i read compulsively. As such i’m very careful about starting a book because it takes over everything until its done. I used to marathon reading books until super late, i recall finishing LotR pretty quickly the last time i read it (3-4 days per book)


Find a quiet space with a good wooden chair. Sit upright. Try reading while standing.

Have good lighting on the book and good ambient lighting. Read during the day.

See an eye doctor. Make sure your prescription is good or if you need glasses.

Read out loud.

Read on paper.

Try an audio book.

Shorten the time spent reading. More frequent but shorter bursts.

Read novellas or poetry.

Stop reading uninteresting books. If the book’s first 30 pages are horrible, stop reading it.

Find a reading partner or reading group.

Ask other people for book recommendations. Ask a friend, librarian, or book seller.

Wonder in libraries and used book stores. Look for a book that is unusual and interesting.



I get distracted too easily. If I’m reading a book that mentions a specific person or place that I’m unfamiliar with, I reach for my phone to do a “quick” Google search for more info. Next thing you know an hour has passed and I’m watching YouTube videos on how to rebuild carburetors. I need to keep my phone out of reach when I read.


This is just not a thing that has ever been a problem for me… but I do acknowledge that the surfeit of screen distractions does make me more distracted.

I would completely agree with

For those who like to read I suspect it is number 7, number 7, number 7… For the rest, I have no insight. Not liking reading it, to me, a lot like not liking eating – incomprehensible!


Well, given Sturgeon’s Law only 10% of it is good anyway, so there’s that. You just have to figure out which 10% to read.


I just picked up a book of Neil Gaiman’s short stories, and it’s true - they’re stories! And they’re short!


YA is my go to cure. But re-reading also helps.


I see what they did there. Cheeky, but in a very literate way.


I just use Godard’s technique of reading the first page followed by the last page.

Interesting. I use the “Godot” technique of waiting for stuff to happen, then it may or may not, and eventually I’m on the last page having forgotten everything that occurred in the first pages, causing a deep existential despair combined with a feeling of abject failure (mine and possibly the author’s).

Maybe better to start in the middle, read to the end, then start at the beginning. That way, you draw a perfect circle, rather than a straight line, through the narrative.

I’m semi-serious. Couldn’t hurt, but I have a hard time evaluating risks.


Alternative solution:


Don’t become a professor. That’s my advice, if you want to get over reader’s block. After eight to ten hours of reading student papers, writing, researching, and attending meetings, I want only two things: Shiraz and Netflix.