Even when you absolutely adore reading—the whimsy, magic, adventure, escape, opportunity, education, and exploration that comes with consuming words—there are times when you just can’t bring yourself to pick up a book. Reading ruts, as they’re often called, are more common than you’d think.
I experienced a long, torturous reading rut during and after college. As an English major and Editor in Chief of my university’s newspaper, I was around words all the time. If I wasn’t reading for class, or composing essays, I was reviewing peer writing line by line, my eyes burning with red-ink edits.
It was a constant stream of written media. At some point, I could barely stand it. The result was a distance from reading—even books for pleasure. I was burnt out. This rut lasted throughout school and nearly a year out, and was filled with guilt, negative feelings about myself, and an aversion to the library, formerly one of my favorite places.
Now, I’m back on the wagon. Reading is once again something I can enjoy, and jump into often. At the moment, I have books checked out on both mine and my husband’s library card. I’m a hungry reader once again, all because I got through my rut.
My tips for escaping the dreaded reading rut
My very first tip is essentially to make a list of books that you want to read. Goodreads is one of the better tools available to do so—you can add friends, peruse endless lists, search by genre, and even keep track of books you’ve read, want to read, or are currently reading.
I’ve spent hours on this app, surfing through recommended books and reading reviews. It’s a great feeling, too, when you finish a book and are able to rate it and add it to your recently read database.
When you don’t know where to start, hop onto Goodreads and do a little exploring. Chances are, you’ll find a book and get excited about it in no time.
Find and dive into a genre you love
Last year, I did something a little unusual for me: I read a book I liked, and then decided to find as many books as possible within the same genre. I did a deep dive into the chick-lit classification, exploring various authors and stories.
It was a lot of fun. I realized that it really is okay to read for fun, and that I’m free to exhaust my options if that’s what I want to do. And I did it. I read more books this way than I had in years, and it was like a rebirth of sorts.
Cultivate an inviting environment
Reading nooks are as popular as ever among adults, because they give us a dedicated space to read, relax, and enjoy ourselves. Whether you have a comfy chair or prefer to snuggle up in bed, having a designated reading environment can be an effective way to slip back into reading. Make it inviting, and a place that you enjoy spending time in.
Know what book you’re looking for before going to the library
Though I’ve always been a fan of wandering the aisles in search of an eye-catching book, I will admit that having a set plan is one of the key factors that helped me escape my reading rut. Doing the research beforehand prevents any frustration if you end up picking out a not-so-great book.
Also, you can always get more than one!
Reread a favorite
If you are in the midst of a reading rut, one surefire way to get out of it is by rereading one of your favorite books. Chances are, your interest will spark, and you’ll find yourself craving more.
I’ve personally re-read Idaho by Emily Ruskovich (my former fiction workshop teacher in college!), Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine, and Inkheart by Cornelia Funke.
If you don’t like it, you don’t have to finish it
Life is too short to read crappy books. Though I do think that you should give books a decent chance, if you’re over half-way through and it’s a struggle to get through every page, it might be time to put it down and move on.
Have you ever found yourself in a reading rut? If so, how did you escape?