For avid readers like me, there is nothing more frustrating than falling into a rut. Lately, I’ve been starting to feel the beginnings of a reading rut coming. As we get closer to the end of the year, the unofficial deadline for the reading challenges I’ve taken on looms. I’m currently standing at about 20 or so books away from my goal, with just seven weeks left to complete them. It’s not an unreasonable pace (I normally read 2-3 books per week anyway), but sometimes it feels that the pressure is on. It got me thinking about what makes people fall into a rut, and more importantly, how to get out of them!
Rut Type #1: The Vortex
Description: When you don’t know what to read, but you know you want to read *something,* so you default to constantly re-reading old favourites.
What’s the Problem?: There’s nothing wrong per se with re-reading the books you love, but sometimes we fall into the trap of reading the same books repeatedly at the expense of time for trying something new.
How To Get Through It: If your goal is just to keep reading throughout the year, just read and enjoy! If you’re interested in branching out more, try using favourites to reward yourself for reading something new. Look for books recommended for fans of your favourites, and try one of those, then reward yourself with a book you already know and love!
Rut Type #2: The Spider Web
Description: You want to pick up something new to read, but you have such an overwhelming number of options that you feel “stuck” in the middle of them all. Different genres, authors, etc. are branching off in all directions, but you’re not moving toward any of them because it’s so difficult to choose where to start.
What’s the Problem?: Having a massive TBR list can be a lot of fun, but it can also be extremely overwhelming. When you don’t know what to read next and you’re faced with 1000+ options (like I currently have on my Goodreads TBR), it’s hard to know where to start. The easiest choice to make is not to choose at all, so you end up reading nothing.
How To Get Through It: Try a reading challenge! Challenges that give you a specific list of of prompts can help to put some limits on your list of options. You still have a lot of freedom to choose what you want to read, but it offers a little more direction. If you’re not into challenges, try ordering a specific number of random books from your TBR from the library or choosing them off your shelves, and commit to reading those. Once you get started, it’s a bit easier to figure out what you’re really in the mood for.
Rut Type #3: The Doorstop
Description: Although a “doorstop” is usually a book that is very long, I would broaden the definition to include anything that really takes you a long time to get through. The book might be very slow-paced, have a lot of pages, have old-fashioned or difficult language, or is a style that you’re not such a fan of. It takes you much longer than you would have liked to read it.
What’s the Problem?: If you’re the type, like me, who only reads one book at a time and rarely if ever gives up before finishing, a “doorstop” book can be very frustrating. Feeling stuck on the same book for a long time can kill your motivation to continue reading.
How To Get Through it: Decide how badly you really want to finish the book. There’s no shame in giving up on a book that you’re really not enjoying. If you’re committed to finishing, set yourself small goals for each day or double up the book with something more fun. Read a little of the doorstop, and then mix it up with a book you’re enjoying. Or try a different format, like an audiobook!
Rut Type #4: The Full Plate
Description: You want to read or you have a book that you’re really into, but unfortunately things are too busy right now for you to have much time to devote to it. You’re very busy with work, school, and any other responsibilities you have. When you get home, you’re too tired to read much or have too much to catch up on to spend time on your book.
What’s the Problem?: There’s nothing really wrong with being busy, but you might feel like you’re falling behind if you’re used to reading more or at a much faster pace. You may get annoyed with yourself for not having enough time to do everything, or feel frustrated that even quick and easy books take so long.
How To Get Through It: Accept the fact that you have a lot going on with your life, and don’t stress too much about reading. If you are part of a challenge and are worried about completing it in time, try subbing in some shorter books to keep the momentum going. If you really want to prioritize reading, set yourself a schedule to fit in even a small amount of reading each day. Be realistic about how much time you have, and don’t worry if you can’t read much — even a little reading is better than none!
Rut Type #5: The Losing Streak
Description: You’ve been reading at a good pace (whatever that means for you), but you’ve hit a streak of mediocre or just plain bad books. Nothing you’ve read recently has impressed you much, and it’s putting you off reading.
What’s the Problem?: You’re never going to love every single book that you try, but it might not be fun to read several books that you don’t enjoy in a row. After a few boring books, it’s harder to get motivated to try the next one.
How To Get Through It: Switch things up, and try something completely different. Read something that is outside of your comfort zone, or ask for some new recommendations. Look at your TBR list and see if any of the books jump out at you. There’s still no guarantee that you’ll love it, but it should get you motivated again. Or, read a new book by one of your favourite “go-to” authors.