6 strategies to get out of your reading rut

We all get stuck in a reading rut on occasion, here are six strategies for you to have ready and waiting the next time it happens to you.

Last month I shared a trick for when you’re stuck in a reading rut. They happen to every reader, and they’re horrible.

But not insurmountable.

In that post I asked you to share your favorite strategies to get out of the dreaded reading rut, and wow, did you deliver. Today I’m sharing my twelve favorite reader comments and emails from that post, grouped into six strategies for you to have ready and waiting the next time this happens to you.

Psst—when I was at The Bookshelf last Saturday, Annie Jones and I kicked off our live podcast recording by discussing what we do when we fall into a slump ourselves. I’ll share that episode when it’s live. Stay tuned.

Plan ahead:

“Like any good accountant, I have a spreadsheet for that! I have over 3,000 books in my TBR list on Goodreads, which can be more than a little overwhelming. At the end of each year, I go through that list and pick ones that I want to read the next year. This helps me make sure I pick from a variety of genres, time periods, etc. Plus, it gives me a list of books to request from the library, so I always have something to pick up when I drop off finished books.” — Kacy

“I have a “Priority TBR” on Goodreads that I maintain with 10-15 books on it. I update it every Saturday after I go to the library, but throughout the week I can only choose from that list of books. I put some thought into keeping the list diverse so throughout the week I have options for any possible reading mood, but bringing my list of options down from hundreds to tens makes it so much easier to pick.” — Brandyn

Bookish serendipity:

“I walk those stacks in the library that are outside my usual areas of interest. Then I choose something that somehow appeals to me by virtue of the topic. It’s interesting how something always pops up and good reads follow. (Outside my “J” approach!)” — Kathleen

“Once when I was in a rut, I posted a question on Facebook asking friends to recommend a book. Many of these were books outside my usual genres and/or from people I didn’t think of as readers. I added a lot to my TBR and found some winners that way.” — Nanette

Extra motivation: 

“I experienced a reading rut lately, which is rare for me. I tried all sorts of things to get unstuck, but what finally worked was looking up which movies were going to be in theaters soon that are based on books, then read the book first. My reward will be seeing the movie in the theater when it comes out…but the REAL reward was getting out of my reading rut!” — Renee

“I have found that using a few different reading challenges since the new year began has really stretched my reading life. I keep a notebook of these lists and pick and choose.” — Monica (Check out my 2018 reading challenge.)

An old favorite:

“After scouring the web and trying tip after tip I found myself turning to a tried and true favorite which of course is one of the most common rut busting recs. The difference for me was that the book was Daughter of the Empire by Feist and Wurts, a 500ish page book followed by two 800+ page sequels and I’m about to finish the second one. So I’d say don’t be afraid to go big, a favorite worked for me but not just because I adore the series, it worked because it was so huge it got my mind off of having to decide what to read next for weeks and it stopped me worrying about how many I had already read and still wanted to read because I was too wrapped up in the epic. Chunky books can be intimidating but sometimes they’re just what we need.” — Ashley

“Most often, I’ll re-read a childhood favorite – recently, I reread Island of the Blue Dolphins when I was feeling uninspired and bogged-down, reading-wise, and it did the trick of keeping my reading momentum going.” — Allison


“My four ‘types’ that I’m always in the middle of are adult fiction, a young adult fiction, a memoir or biography, and a nonfiction read (other than a memoir). I’ve been doing this for years because it means I almost always want to pick up at least ONE of the books I’ve got going on, no matter what mood I’m in! (It also means I tend to finish books at a decent pace because I’m often making a little bit of headway on all four titles simultaneously.)” — Torrie

 “I have a few tricks when I notice myself getting bored with reading.

  1. Humor – it feels fun with no downside (think Dave Barry)
  2. Very short. Anne’s lists of books you can read in a day is great for this (or anything sub-200 pages)
  3. Revisit something from school. A lot of classic literature is actually cool when you don’t have to write a paper on it! Think Great Gatsby, Romeo and Juliet, etc.” — Laura

“I went to extreme measures to get out of my reading rut: for all of 2018, I’m reading as if it were 100 years ago–books, magazines, and even news. For those who are looking for a less drastic rut-buster, I’d suggest this addition to the list: ‘read a book published more than (choose your own number) years ago.’” — Mary Grace

Embrace the rut: 

“Best advice I ever got: let yourself get into a reading rut! I know it sound ridiculous, right? A reading rut is your brain’s way of telling you to slow down. I embrace a rut when I get into one (in fact I just got out of a 2 week long one the other day) because I know if I push myself then I may not enjoy what I’m reading. I catch up on my shows, tackle long overdue home improvement projects, anything to refresh my mind and start anew.” — Courtney

What would you add to the list? How did you recover the last time YOU fell into a reading rut?


Leave A Comment
  1. When they review an interesting book on All Things Considered or when someone says I should read such and such i pull up the amazon app on my phone and immediately add it to my shopping list which acts as a quick “to read” list

  2. Hannah Van Dyk says:

    My go to strategy lately has been to get into a series. This largely has to do with my personality: I know that if I get into something – like a series – I’ll immediately want to binge read everything around it. Thus far, it’s looked like a lot of YA series (shout out to The Lunar Chronicles + To All The Boys I’ve Ever Loved), but I think I’m moving in that direction with Louise Penney’s Inspector Gamache series, too!

  3. Emily Breeden says:

    My two new strategies this year are this blog and the library. I started following this blog in the past several months and it’s led me to many book recommendations. I keep my TBR list on my Amazon wishlist, where I can read more about the book and it’s always available. Then I place holds willy nilly at the library, usually five at a time. I’ll just grab books from my wishlist, trying to get a little diversity so I don’t get bored. The beauty of it is, there’s zero risk! If I don’t like a book, I return it. No big deal. It’s allowed me to safely branch out.

  4. Donna H. says:

    So many great suggestions on this list (and I love a tracking spreadsheet too)! When I’m in a slump I read a short, fun, page-turner (Agatha Christie usually does the trick) because it just gets me in the habit of reading again. I think of it like a palate cleanser that gets me ready to eat a big meal again.

  5. Dawn says:

    I found myself getting into a reading rut because I had too many books on my reading list that I didn’t enjoy reading. I decided to start getting a sample of the books on my kindle to see if I would even “like” the book before getting it from the library. If it passes the sample read – I add it to my to read list in my bullet journal. Life’s too short to read books I don’t enjoy!

  6. Louise says:

    I broke my reading rut by giving myself permission to give up on books I wasn’t enjoying. Usually I make myself read to the end on the assumption that I’m just missing something! And then I re-read a favourite book from my teenage years. Guaranteed to enjoy it and easy reading.

  7. Julie Peters says:

    These are all such great ideas! I love the idea of rereading a childhood favorite. I recently reread To Kill a Mockingbird for an English Book Club I host here in Romania and I had forgotten how much I loved it! I should definitely try rereading more books when I get into a rut…especially if it means I don’t have to buy a new book 🙂

  8. Kristian says:

    My friend and I started a “book club of two.” Its just over the phone, since we are long distance. But the idea was to take turns picking books, especially ones that we either needed to give a second chance to, or that we’d been meaning to read and hadn’t yet. Its nice because the idea to get out of the reading rut is right there; you have accountablity in the form of another person; and, especially for books I’d maybe struggled to finish in the past, it gave me a different perspective once we talked about them. Made me more like to read other books in that vein.

  9. Karen Grosz says:

    I usually have 3 or 4 books going at once as well. All in different genres so if I am not in the mood for non-fiction or memoir I will have a fiction book that can grab me and vice versa. I also have several books checked out from the library. That stack gets me to read since I know something else is waiting for me to read that I will enjoy.

  10. Sheree says:

    What fantastic suggestions!!! I’ve found that “reading ruts” for me basically just mean that I’ve been reading things that I don’t enjoy. Books that bore me or go over my head, too many straight-white-males in a row, or whatever the case may be. The only trick I’ve found to fix that is keep picking up different things until something sticks – then I’m off to the races! 😉
    I’ve also found that blogging my reviews really helps; there’s no time for a “rut” or a pile of DNFs when I’ve got reviews to publish! It has forced me to get outside of my comfort zone, read things I normally wouldn’t, and read consistently with purpose – all of those factors have kept me rut-free for quite a while now 😉
    Thanks so much for sharing these tips!

  11. Tanieke says:

    I’m currently in a really bad reading rut that I haven’t been able to get out of for about 9 months. I have a tonne of books on my shelf and TBR list that I can and want to read, I just can’t find the motivation to read any of them. I’ve tried to sit down and read most of them, even some of my old favourites, but I struggle to get past the first few chapters. I always find myself losing interest or getting distracted.
    I’ve pinned the reasoning down to the fact that I graduated last year (about 9/10 months ago). I spent the past two years barely touching a book so that I could focus on studying and homework. if I did read, it was on holidays or to procrastinate school work. since graduating my days have been so empty that I don’t really have downtime or spare time to read in because all my time is spare time. I can’t work or continue to study to fill my time, to give me down time because of personal reasons and its gotten me in such a rut where reading just doesn’t entertain me.
    I really don’t know what I need to do to fix it and to actually start enjoying reading again.

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