Monday, February 18, 2013

How to Get Out of a Reading Rut


My brain in a reading rut

I feel like there are two definitions of a reading rut: either you're stuck in one genre (help! I'm stuck in a genre and I can't get out!), or you're just stuck in general. You've tried a million different books, but they're just not clicking for you. You've stopped and started a million times, and while usually you're gobbling down books like they're potatoes chips, for some reason things have slooooowed dowwwwwn.

This post is about the second type: the reading brain block. Otherwise known as the book blogger's most deadly affliction.

Some of you are probably looking at me your computer screen like I'm crazy (stop doing that, you look stupid making faces at an inanimate object). "Um. That never happens to me. I have no idea what you're describing." Those people are lucky. But the rest of us, and even the most voracious of readers, sometimes just get stuck.

Picture the scene: the humble book blogger sits in her room, gazing sadly at the ceiling. Books overflow from her shelves, piled into stacks three feet high, spilling over the floor. She thumbs through her e-reader and sees over a hundred unread books. Heaps of reviews are due. The people expect them, and the publishers expect them, but there's just one problem. SHE'S GOT NOTHING TO READ! Every book she picks up might as well be written in a foreign language, because something just isn't working.

Gillian will stop talking about herself in the third person now.

This is how I was two weeks ago. Things just weren't grabbing me. I wasn't in the right headspace or something, and it was devastating. My favorite feeling in the world is falling so deeply into a book that it just swallows me whole, and I forget I'm even on planet earth and that I'm more than just a pair of eyeballs blazing across pages. But you can't force that to happen, sadly.

But in the end, I managed to break out of my reading rut (huzzah!), and it ended up being very educational. Now I shall share with you a few of the tips I picked up for busting free.

Get thee to a library! When I buy books from bookstores or online, I always feel enormous pressure to read it, even if it's not grabbing me, because I paid good money. I owe it to my wallet and the good meal I gave up in exchange for purchasing the book to read the darn thing and read it now. But often when you feel pressured to read a certain book, those are the times where it just ain't happenin'. So the library is a perfect place to grab something for free. If you don't find the time or impetus to get into the borrowed book, then no worries! It either goes back to the library and you get something new, or you try taking it out another week. No consequences.

Read a sequel you are positively salivating for. You're already eager for it. You already know and love the characters, so there won't be that awkward first-date period where you're wary and you're brow is furrowed and you're withholding judgment.

Harry is doubtful.

My rut basically ended the day I got Unravel Me, and it sparked the magic. I got it at about three in the afternoon and finished it around eleven. AND I went out to dinner that night like an actual socializing person (which I am not. I mean, I'm still a PERSON, but I tend to not be the best with situations that are social. I didn't even want to GO to dinner, but I was forced by people who have no patience for bookish shut-ins).



Choose a genre you really, unapologetically love. One you're predisposed to enjoy, and hits you where you're hittable. Love books with ghosts? Try horror. Love magic? Pick up a fantasy.

I recommend, though, that you try contemporary. Unless you're one of those people who just can't STAND it, of course, but I think it's the best way to ease yourself back into the rhythm of reading. And while I run into a lot of contemporaries that just don't work for me, a really fun and funny contemp read is the perfect thing to pull me out of a reading brain block. For one, there's no tricky worldbuilding. It requires much less tax on your brain, because it's about the world you live in, and you already understand all the rules. You don't have to concentrate the first fifty pages or so. If I'm in a rut, my brain is overtaxed and unable to focus, which means I'm less likely to absorb crucial information.

Try setting aside a specific time for reading. Before bed, during lunch, whenever. When that time comes around, your brain will know it's time for booking (yes it's a verb), and you'll be more likely to get into your book.

Read a book that's getting a LOT of great buzz... or don't. Yeah, that one's contradictory, because it can go both ways. Either you're guaranteed a fab read, or you'll be disappointed and feel like the one dense person on the planet who just doesn't get it. Tread with caution here.

Read something that's unapologetically trashy/fluffy/funny. These are NOT BAD THINGS. They are awesome things. Find your personal guilty pleasure kryptonite, like a romance so cheesy you just know you'll roll your eyes but inside you just might be squealing. Something that won't challenge your brain cells but will engage your heart.

My brain FINALLY GETTING BACK INTO THE SWING OF THINGS

Read with a friend! You'll feel more motivated, plus you'll have someone to share the experience with. You can fangirl or complain together.

REREAD. Reread reread reread. Go back and revisit a book you know you love, one that is guaranteed to suck you in. It's like visiting an old friend when you need a pick me up. Preferably choose a book that you adore but perhaps haven't read in a little while. This always does the trick for me. It's like warming up before starting the big race of reading something new.

So! How do you haul yourself out of the dreaded reading rut? Are you one of those lucky people who is NEVER burnt out reading-wise? Tell us where you live, so we can throw things at you in a jealous rage (don't actually tell us where you live). Which of my tips do you think could or couldn't work for you?

 

17 comments:

  1. I just went through a (small) reading rut, and I love all your suggestions! Reading sequels can be a mixed bag, since my last reading rut happened right after I was disappointed with a sequel, though I know at other times sequels have helped me rekindle that reading passion.

    I agree that contemporary is a great genre to chose for a reading rut--ESPECIALLY more light contemporary. One of my favorite books to re-read on a bad day or when I don't know what to read is The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight. It's a fairly quick read, it's fun, and sweet.

    By far my favorite way to get out of a reading rut that you mentioned, though, is to reread. When I get really stuck in a rut, I'll reread an all-time favorite like Harry Potter and get totally sucked into that world all over again. Of course, when rereading a book in a series it takes up quite a bit of reading time since I know I'll have to reread the entire series, but sometimes it's so worth it!

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    1. Yeah, sometimes sequels can backfire, but sometimes they're the best things to, like you said, rekindle the reading passion. And yes! Quick, fun, sweet reads like tSPoLaFS are the best things for me. And Harry Potter is my absolutely favorite thing to reread. I can't even say how many times I've read each book.

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  2. I feel like I'm in a reading rut right now!! I waited on The Indigo Spell for MONTHS and now that I have the book I just can't get into it! And I love this series so much. I really want to finish it but I just don't feel like reading. And I have a TON of books lying around and on my Kindle that I need to read but every time I look at them I think "oh man, I really need to read these!" and then I just sigh and go on. I may have to take your advice!

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    1. Same here. Looking at the unread books on my Kindle always KILLS my desire to read, which is unfortunate. You'd think it would be the opposite!

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  3. I'm in a reading rut at the moment. I'll read a book in a day and then not read anything for almost a week and it's quite the cycle. It's so annoying and almost anxiety provoking because there are so many books I have to read in the upcoming weeks. I guess what helps me the most is reading a good contemporary to get me back on track. It's by far my favorite genre and reading one always feels like coming back to an old friend. I also try to force myself to read every night before bed, even if it's just for a little while.

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    1. Yes! It is anxiety provoking! Especially when you're already behind on reviews. Contemporaries usually do the trick for me as well.

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  4. I have been going through a reading rut too! I am reading Opal by Jennifer Armentrout I love it but I just don't feel like reading it! I think I might just have to buy Unravel Me and get out of this haha!

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    1. Oooh, I hate it when you actually really like the book you're reading but still can't get into it! That's a sad mess of contradictions that's hard to solve.

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  5. Love this post. Great ideas for getting out of a funk. If I get in a funk, I just step back for a couple of days and try again. Not forcing myself to read is the only way out a rut for me.

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    1. That's also a really good idea. If you put too much pressure on yourself to read, it can really just discourage you further.

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  6. I don't get in a lot of reading ruts, only about once a year or so, but they are very frustrating. Not one single book that I pick up to read sounds good and I then just won't read anything. Those are sad times. A big one for me is if I just feel like I have too many options to choose from, this can put me in a reading rut. Then I have a friend or my husband just randomly pick one for me and I give it a try. It usually works every time and I jump right back in.

    Thanks for the informative post! I'm glad you are out of your rut. :)

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    1. That's such a good idea! My problem usually stems from too many options. Next time I'm in a rut, I'll just ask someone to pick at random for me as well. Thanks for the hint!

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  7. Great post! Reading ruts don't really happen to me, but I switch up genres so often that I think I refresh my mind and prevent reading slumps. Your suggestions are wonderful and extremely helpful. =)

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    1. Switching up genres is an excellent way to put off the reading rut. Glad I could be helpful!

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  8. Awesome post! I don't often go through periods where I don't want to read, but it does happen and often the only thing that can shake me out of it is finally getting a book I've been looking forward to for REALLY long time. But re-reading is a good idea; nothing like going back to something you know already know you love.

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  9. I feel lucky that this hasn't happened to me in recent memory -- I have the opposite problem -- I have so many books I want to read that I can't decide which one to choose first since I want to read them ALL. Though I did recently write on my blog about my first ever book I DNFed, which is very unlike me -- so I know it does happen sometimes that a book just doesn't click.

    These are all really great suggestions to keep in mind though. And I'll admit, my indecisiveness was ended when I chose a sequel I was dying to read as my next book -- a surefire way to get lost in the pages and forget temporarily about all those other ones toppling my shelves!

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  10. Awesome post!

    I have actually been in a reading slump most of this year and IT SUCKS! I'll take your advice and hopefully I will snap out of my reading slump! I want to try and read some Sarah Dessen books as apparently they're great contemporaries :D

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