My Reading Project Failed but I’m Not Going to Let It Stop Me.

Getting back to my book-a-week challenge.

Photo by Matias North on Unsplash

After graduating in May of 2020, one of the things I was most excited to do was be able to read what I wanted when I wanted.

Imagine my surprise when it took me quite some time to be able to get into the headspace for that. I’d pick up a book, read the first few pages, and then my mind would wander.

I just couldn’t get my head into a reading space.

Every college graduate that I talked to said this is completely normal. After leaving school you’re inundated with all the things you can do now, and all of those things are fighting for brain space.

It also takes some time to rewire your brain to read for fun vs. reading for an assignment. I needed to find some way to convince my subconscious that this was a fun activity.

Earlier this year I challenged myself to read a book a week for fun.

It went really well for me in the beginning. I was often reading more than a book a week and it got me excited about working on something that’s all my own. It was a nice shut-off for me at the end of the day.

I started an Instagram account dedicated to my project, and it actually did pretty well. I got over 1000 followers in the first month!

But then it started to go downhill.

Not horribly downhill, but life got crazy mid-summer and by September my book-a-week reading schedule went out the window. I just couldn’t bring myself to relax enough to read a book when I had so many other things going on.

It’s been a month and a half since I’ve finished reading a book and I don’t want to get any further behind.

Here’s what I’m doing to get back on the reading horse:

I’m not trying to catch up.

The key to getting back on track is not to try and make up the stuff you missed.

Obviously, sometimes you have to. Like if you get behind on work, for example. If people are counting on you, that’s a totally different scenario.

But my reading challenge? No one is depending on me to keep up or catch up on that and if I put stress on myself to read more than I can or I have time for there’s a chance I’ll just get further and further behind. Then it’ll all just feel like a chore and not like something I’m doing for enjoyment.

My point is if you don’t have to make it up, don’t make it up. Just push forward and start new. Give yourself a break and in return, you’ll be giving yourself your best shot at succeeding.

I’m taking a look at what’s holding my interest right now.

There are so many books in the world. So many. It’s overwhelming, really.

When I find my mind and interests straying away from reading, I take a look at the other types of stories I’m taking in.

TV shows, movies, music….all of these are just stories and if you find that there’s a certain show you’re obsessed with at the moment, see if you can find a book with a similar storyline. You definitely will be able to.

Recently, I’ve found myself falling back on an old comfort story for me in a form that I’m almost embarrassed to admit: Harry Potter fanfiction.

Harry Potter made me a reader and Harry Potter fanfiction made me an avid reader (and kept me one even when I didn’t have the time or energy). There’s something relaxing about revisiting a world with characters that you know over and over again. It requires little time to get into it.

Anyways, I read a particular fan fiction story that I found myself devouring at the start of this month. I took the tropes that I could see in this story (because every story has tropes) and found a book with that same trope.

I’m now about to finish my first book in a month and a half.

I’m allowing myself to be immersed in the story.

One of my favorite ways to read is alongside an audiobook. Reading along to an actor or actors narrating really makes you feel like you’re watching the book on tv or at the movies.

Remember when you were in elementary school and learning how to read? Your teacher would have a tape player with uncomfortable headphones and you’d listen and read along to The Wind in the Willows? That’s exactly what I’m talking about doing here.

It may feel silly, and it definitely is an extra investment, but if you’re finding yourself in a reading slump it can really help you to get into a book.

And an added bonus? When that inevitable time comes that you have to put down your book and stop reading while you work, you can keep the audiobook going!

I’m telling you, it’s a game-changer.


How do you pull yourself out of a reading slump?

Let me know in the comments. I’m always open to tips!


Here’s my favorite exercise for figuring out how to create content that reaches your target audienceIt’ll change the way you approach content creation for the better!

Adrienne Grimes is a writer and a reader of all the things. She lives in Pennsylvania with her two overbearing dogs and her doggish cat. Follow her on Instagram @bookaweekproject and catch her social media and branding classes in the Ninja Writers Guild — a community for every type of writer!

From the faraway, nearby.

Georgia O’Keeffe used to sign her letters with “from the faraway nearby.”

Rebecca Solnit talks about this in her book The Faraway Nearby, titled after this phrase from many of Georgia O’Keeffe’s letters. This was a recent read for me but it has easily been added to my list of favorites.

“We’re close, we say, to mean that we’re emotionally connected, that we are not separate; or, we’ve become distant, to describe the opposite. After years in New York City, Georgia O’Keeffe moved to rural New Mexico, from which she would sign her letters to the people she loved, “from the faraway nearby.” It was a way to measure physical and psychic geography together.”
— Rebecca Solnit ‘The Faraway Nearby’

Like most of what O’Keeffe has said, I resonate with this.

Read more.

The power to seek new ways of being…

“Only within that interdependency of difference strengths, acknowledged and equal, can the power to seek new ways of being in the world generate, as well as the courage and sustenance to act where there are no charters.” — Audre Lorde

I recently read The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master’s House, a short essay by feminist and activist Audre Lorde.

Audre Lorde was a poet, and in reading this gorgeously written and timely essay, it’s easy to see that her passion became her platform on which to advocate for change.

What struck me most about this essay is a very important discussion of the necessity of difference. Read more.

If you’re a pretender, come sit by my fire….

“If you are a dreamer, come in.
If you are a dreamer, a wisher, a liar,
A hope-er, a pray-er, a magic bean buyer . . .
If you’re a pretender, come sit by my fire,
For we have some flax golden tales to spin.
Come in!
Come in!”
— Shel Silverstein, Invitation

Did anyone else know about Shel Silverstein’s start as a cartoonist with Playboy?

I didn’t, and I find it strangely fascinating.

Playboy not only launched Shel Silverstein’s career, but he also probably had a hand in helping to launch theirs. Read more.

View at Medium.com

I am the sea and nobody owns me.

“I am the sea and nobody owns me.”
— Astrid Lindgren, Pippi Longstocking

Pippi Longstocking was written by Astrid Lindgren on request from her daughter.

Astrid herself was not one to be tied down.

She had her children, and eventually a husband, but none of that stopped her from living a full life and doing what she loved most. Read more.

In this case, the color blue

“And so I fell in love with a color — in this case, the color blue — as if falling under a spell, a spell I fought to stay under and get out from under, in turns.”
–Maggie Nelson, Bluets

In Bluets, Maggie Nelson brings us along on her journey through the color blue as she experiences her own heartbreak, and witnessing a loved one’s physical pain.

Is she looking for the reason behind her love of the color? Or simply trying to tell a story through the waves of the color blue? Read more.

The Decade That Destroyed the Modern American Woman

’90s Bitch: The Decade That Destroyed the Modern American Woman’
— Allison Yarrow

I recently read a book for a class.

It was actually a much more momentous moment than it sounds, as it was the first time in my first semester of grad school that I actually got to read something of interest to my future thesis… Whatever that may be.

I chose Allison Yarrow’s 90s Bitch: Media, Culture, and the Failed Promise of Gender Equality, a journalistic review of the crappy way high profile women were treated in the media during the 90s.

It wasn’t exactly what I thought it would be. Read more.

far worse than ugliness…

“In the matter of furnishing, I find a certain absence of ugliness far worse than ugliness.” — ‘Gigi’, Colette (1944)

I recently watched the film Colette. I hated it. The story was great, but I found a major roadblock. Who makes a movie about a French woman, set in France, with a cast full of British accents? I couldn’t get passed that, no matter the Rotten Tomatoes rating.
Read more.