What To Do When You’re Stuck in a Reading Rut

So you might have heard me mention in the past couple of PubCrawl podcast episodes that I’ve been in something of a reading rut and I haven’t really read anything new in the last month. This isn’t that unusual; reading, like so much else in my life, comes and goes in phases. When I am researching for a book, I read voraciously. While I am drafting or else working on writing, I cannot. I am, by nature, a feast or famine sort of person.

But reading ruts feel slightly different. I don’t feel like reading because I’m working or my mental space is otherwise occupied; I just don’t feel like reading period. For someone who reads as much as I do (after all, I used to read for work), reading ruts usually come with a lot of guilt. I should be reading! I should have read this new novel already! I should finally get around to reducing my TBR! I should, I should, I should.

Last year I wrote about shutting off auditory media and allowing myself to re-discover boredom. I am oversaturated with media in my daily life, and I think my reading rut might be a defense mechanism against overstimulation. I talked a little bit on my review of The City of Dreaming Books at my blog about feeling like I’m overwhelmed by the emotional space needed to care about books. It’s not that I don’t like caring; it’s just that those emotional muscles are tired and need a break.

Usually when I’m in a reading rut, I cast about for some way to break it. Maybe this book will do it, or this one, or this one. What usually ends up happening is I end up with a string of Do Not Finishes when I try and force it. This time, I’m going to ride this reading rut out and try not to stress about it. If I don’t feel like reading, I don’t feel like reading. Because when I’m ready to pick up and immerse myself in a book again, books will always be there. They aren’t going anywhere.

What about you? Do you guys force yourselves out of reading ruts or just ride them out? Do you even get reading ruts? (Some people I know don’t!) Sound off in the comments!

4 Responses to What To Do When You’re Stuck in a Reading Rut

  1. Marilynn Byerly Apr 29 2016 at 7:49 pm #

    I’m a literary omnivore with only a few types of books I simply won’t read. (Boredom and disinterest, mainly.) Reading everything from cozy mysteries to dark fantasy keeps my reading fresh. I also read very, very fast so I can go through a book a night without trouble.

    When I do feel like I’m in a rut or bored with reading, I find a new book by an established author who is very talented. An excellent writer reminds me of the joy of reading.

  2. Coryl o'Reilly May 4 2016 at 9:16 am #

    My reading ruts creep up when I’m absorbed in other mandatory reading (literature major in university. I’ll be ecstatic when I’m done). I simply can’t read anything intense while I’m in school. I can manage short stories and poetry from literary magazines, but any large work of fiction (anthology or genre fiction or contemporary)? Impossible. My brain needs a break from the act of reading. I also process literature very differently when I’m in student mode versus leisure mode. I have difficulty switching between the two modes, so I make it easier and let the reading rut grow until I’m done the semester. Magically, the rut disappears!

  3. Joel May 17 2016 at 1:22 am #

    thanks for the read

  4. Joel May 17 2016 at 1:22 am #


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