Every year, I give myself a reading goal – X number of books I want to read in 12 months. Sometimes I hit that goal early and with ease. Other times, however, I find myself seriously stuck in a reading rut.
If that sounds familiar, not to worry – it’s not that uncommon and there are ways to fix it! Here’s how to break free from a reading rut.
What Exactly is a Reading Rut?
It can happen with just about anything and reading is no exception. Reader’s block, a reading slump, a book rut – whatever you want to call it, it’s exactly what it sounds like. Feeling unable to read despite desperately wanting to.
A reading slump can look like:
- Difficulty concentrating when reading
- Lack of motivation to read
- Loss of interest in reading
- Trying to read only to find that nothing grabs you
- Feeling depressed, disconnected, or withdrawn
Regardless of what it looks like for you, it’s not fun. It can be seriously stressful! Especially when you’re someone who loves to read.
Why It Happens?
According to Stuart Jeffries – the writer who coined the term ‘readers block’ – being constantly inundated with must-read books can become overwhelming. Feeling pressured to read even when you don’t enjoy a book creates more difficulty with picking up a new book in the first place.
That’s a fancy way of saying that the pressure to read more can create a reading slump. (So, maybe my yearly book goals aren’t such a good idea.)
Other factors that can lead to a reading rut:
- Burnout from work
- Feeling stressed or anxious in general
- Low mood
- Covid or brain fog
- Finishing a fantastic book – now nothing else lives up!
- Cognitive overload – too many other balls in the air
Tips to Overcome a Reading Rut
1. Read a New Genre
We all have our favorite genres when it comes to our TBR list (I’m all about the psychological thriller), but if boredom is the root of your rut, you might want to try branching out a bit.
Read a book in a different genre, or by a different kind of author. It doesn’t even have to be wildly different. If you love psychological thrillers, you could try a YA thriller instead. Or, try a domestic fiction book. You’ll still get the element of suspense you love, but there’s a different style of writing that can help break you out of your boredom.
2. Try Audio-books
Alternatively, you can try a different book format. Instead of reading a book, listen to an audio-book. That way, you get the aspect of novelty while still indulging in a genre you love.
Audio-books can also be helpful for those who are super busy or burnt-out. When you have so little free time, it’s hard to feel motivated to pick up a book during your 10-min Me-Time. But listening to a book when taking a bath or working out or even driving? Way less daunting.
3. Opt for a Change of Scenery
Change can be incredibly beneficial when it comes to breaking out of rut, and if you don’t want to change the type of book or format, maybe try changing the where.
If you normally read in bed at night, try taking your kindle to the nearest park or beach or coffee shop. You could even go as far (or near) as moving from your room to the kitchen. Being in a new location might make the experience feel more enticing.
4. Re-Read an Old Favorite
On one side of the coin, you have change. But, there’s also the other side: familiarity.
Instead of trying a new kind of book, maybe go back and re-read one of your favorite novels. Sometimes, a reading rut happens because you haven’t read anything great in a while. By re-reading a book you know you love, you could reignite that desire.
5. Start Small
When you’re in the midst of reader’s block, picking up a 700-page epic is no doubt going to feel overwhelming. Why set yourself up for failure like that? Instead, start with something small, like a YA book or novella.
Hell, it doesn’t even have to be a book. Read a short story, an article, an op-ed, a poem. Anything at all counts!
6. Ask for Recommendations
Whether you want to try a new genre or stick to your tried-and-true variety, ask people around you for their best book recommendation. Joining a book club is another good way to do that!
7. Take a Break
Finally, sometimes being in a rut is a sign that you need to take a break. So, instead of fighting that, try actually listening. Take a break from reading – give yourself a week, two weeks, even a month where you don’t look for a new book to read. At the end of your break, you might just be itching to dive into a new novel.