Well, it’s happened again.
For the second time this year.
I’m in a reading rut.
I’m sure you can empathize; every reader can. Every reader has gone through those few days, or weeks, or – heaven forbid – months where every book you pick up turns to ash in your hands. You can’t get into the story, the writing bothers you, your reading brain is broken.
In the past two weeks, I’ve picked up and put down five books. And I’m not talking about reading a few pages and getting bored. I’m talking I get halfway through a book – over a hundred pages in – and I just don’t care. As a writer, I think it’s bad juju to write bad things about others writers and their work, so I’m not here to tell you what not to read. And a lot of times I don’t think a reading rut has anything to do with the books themselves. Some of the books I’ve started this past week are in my wheelhouse and they’re getting great praise. I should like them. And probably one day I will. But they’re just not right for me now.
Lately I’ve been thinking that perhaps the reading rut phenomenon isn’t as arbitrary as it may seem. For instance, it could be the universe telling you to take a break, to funnel your energy into something else, or perhaps it’s simply trying to get you to pick up a different book.
So how do you ride out your reading rut and come out on the other side alive and happy?
- Try a different genre. Maybe you’re all burned out on domestic thrillers and a hairy literary fiction is the only thing that’ll interest you.
- Try something light. If you read a lot and you’re in a reading rut, your reading brain might just be getting antsy. Get a page-turner. My go-to recommendation for this is Liane Moriarty. She tackles some sticky subjects, but she will have you flying through the pages.
- Try a different format. As a girl who loves her book books – hardbacks and paper pages for me, please – sometimes switching to an audiobook helps get my bored brain through a read.
- Reread a comfort book. For me this is always Harry Potter. Those first few sentences of the first book are as comforting as a bite of chocolate cake.
- Watch TV instead! And by this, I mean, just do anything else. Take a walk, cook a dinner. Who knows, maybe a book just isn’t gonna be your jam this week. Binge on Netflix, don’t feel guilty, and go to back to the library in a few days.
In taking my own advice to get through my current reading rut, I’ve combined suggestions 1, 3, and 4. I’m listening to, and loving, the audiobook version of You Are A Badass by Jen Sincero. I listened to it years ago and remember liking it, but the details are fuzzy. Now as I follow along, I’m getting the ideas and tough love I know I need right now. It’s helping me look at my writing career critically and optimistically. It’s helping me face my fears. And I wouldn’t be having this experience if my reading rut hadn’t led me to this particular book at this particular time. So, here’s to reading ruts that help us get to the books and places we’re meant to be going. They really suck. But they’re pretty cool too.