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  • Writer's pictureLinnea Archibald

4 ways to get out of a reading rut

As with most hobbies, my reading life is heavily impacted by the state of the rest of my life. For example, last summer when we first moved into our new house, I spent entire days painting rooms. Which meant I had near-endless amounts of time to listen to audiobooks. In contrast, last month, I had a very heavy work schedule, was exhausted in the evenings, and therefore barely got through the five books I did read.

Though it is absolutely fine (and natural) for your reading pace to ebb and flow throughout the year, if you’re like me, slowing down your reading rate sometimes leads to a complete halt and you find yourself between books with little motivation or direction. These reading ruts can be discouraging and difficult to overcome.

While I definitely still have some slower reading seasons, I have honed a few practices to help jumpstart my reading life out of the rut, so I now commend them to you. I hope you’ll find them helpful!

Reread a favorite book

Even if you’re not normally a rereader, picking up a favorite book when you’re in a slump can be just the thing to knock you out of it. Returning to a favorite helps remind you that there are beautiful, compelling, and enthralling books just waiting for you around the corner.

I don’t reread many books, but there are a few I return to again and again, often at times when I feel unmotivated or burned out on reading. They never fail to reignite my love for books. (You can read about some of my favorites in this blog post.)

And if rereading a particular book doesn’t appeal to you, you could also lean on a favorite author’s back catalog. While the story will be new in this case, the writing style and voice will be a familiar friend and serve much of the same purpose that rereading does.

Pick up a different fast-moving genre

In contrast to my last suggestion, sometimes you may find yourself in a reading rut because you’ve been leaning too heavily into one genre of book. For example, though I love more literary-leaning books, too many in a row can bog me down. When I find myself feeling somewhat blah toward the type of books in my lineup, I know it’s time to introduce a bit of variety.

If you’re truly at a reading low point, I would recommend picking up something faster moving than you typically read. For instance, last month I read several big, heavy books in a row and was feeling a bit sluggish. As soon as I recognized that feeling, I reached for a compelling mystery thriller.

Sometimes, even if they’re not your normal chosen genre, picking up a true page-turner is just what you need to kick into reading high gear again.

Read something short

Look, we all need a quick win from time to time. Long books are great, but the feeling of accomplishment and closure offered by a quick read can help build momentum in your reading life. Starting something and finishing it within a matter of days (or hours even) leaves you wanting more rather than needing a break (which I occasionally need after an especially long or difficult read).

I’ve even been known to pause a longer book, read something short, and then return to the longer book again. The act of starting and finishing a book sometimes is just the push I need to remember that I can complete something. Momentum is a helpful thing in the reading life.

If you’re looking for suggestions for short books for this exercise, I’m planning to write about my favorites soon, so stay tuned!

Switch reading mediums

Sometimes a book will work better for you in one medium (e.g., paper) than another (e.g., audiobook). There are several books I absolutely loved, but thought I didn’t at first because I couldn’t get through them in the medium I was originally using. If you’re struggling with a book but still want to give it a try, switch mediums. (I always recommend using your library’s app for audiobooks and this is a great reason to do so!)

Switching mediums doesn’t just apply to specific books either. I have had seasons of my life where reading paper books was really difficult to fit in. During the same season I was painting like crazy in our new house, all my physical books were packed away awaiting their new shelves. Instead of just giving up reading for that season, I relied on audiobooks and my kindle. Similarly, I have had seasons where audiobooks don’t hold my attention, meaning I rely more on paper books.

Take heart: You may not be in a complete reading rut. You might just need a change of scenery (aka format).

How do you tackle reading ruts? Do you have any surefire ways to jumpstart your reading life after a dry spell? Tell me in the comments!



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Image by Susan Q Yin


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