How to Get Out of Your Reading Rut

We’ll be the first to admit that sometimes we just do. not. want. to. read. Every book on our shelf looks unsightly. Every recommendation from a friend feels blasé. The first page of every book we open is the most boring thing we’ve ever read. Being in a reading slump can suck so much joy out of an activity that we, deep down, love with everything in us.

If you too have found yourself in a reading rut, fear not. There are plenty of others who have gone before you and pulled themselves out of the darkest, bookless holes — so you can too. Here’s what you can do to stop the cold grip of a reading rut from overcoming you:

Change your environment

Go to a coffee shop, cosy up in a bookstore corner, or build a plush fort in the privacy of your home. Sure your favourite chair or the depths of your bed and comfortable and familiar, but if they haven’t been inspiring you to crack open a book lately, that likely isn’t going to magically change. A change of environment can often encourage a change in habit.

Turn off your phone

It feels like this piece of advice is included in almost all articles on increasing productivity, but that’s just because it works! We’ve wasted many an opportune reading night by thinking, oh, I’ll just check my notifications really quickly. Next thing we know we’ve wasted hours scrolling through a hashtag about some new face mask that we’re not even sure would work with our skin complexion when we could have been diving into a new story. Ignore the notifications, turn on ‘Do Not Disturb’ and let your mind be fully invested in the title in front of you; you’ll find yourself more engaged in no time.

Organise your bookshelves

This is perfect for when you feel like you don’t even know what you like to read anymore. Dig through the ghosts of up-all-night-reading’s past. Sort by color, sort by title, sort by which one made you cry or laugh the hardest. Just get your hands on the books you’ve devoured before to help remind you why and what you love reading.

Re-read your favourite book

Sometimes you just need to feel the warm embrace of an old friend. Diving back into your absolute favourite story — the one that gripped you from the start or that you could not stop talking about once you put it down — will remind you of the high you feel when you finish a good book. It will reboot the craving for a good story, which you can use to propel you into your next book binge.

Go to the library

Instead of focusing on what everyone else is reading right now or what the booksellers want you to read, why not stroll through the inviting, yet musty shelves of a library. Discover an out-of-print gem or pick up the book that hasn’t graced a bookstore shelf in years. Libraries offer an entirely different browsing experience than a Waterstones or a Foyles, so use them to reinvigorate your interest in reading.

Pick up a short story

Like fresh ginger after sushi, or a sniff of coffee beans between perfumes, short stories are the palate cleanser of literature. If you’re in a slump because of a less-than-inspiring recent read, a short story can wipe the slate clean; or it can get the juices flowing if your slump is due to a dry spell.

Read with someone else

Phoning a friend isn’t just for Who Wants to Be A Millionaire?. Sometimes you need to call in backup, someone to keep you accountable. Involving a friend is a great way to make sure you’re staying on track with reading, but you also get the added bonus of having someone to gush about the book with afterward — or rant about everything you hated. Either one!


Tips from the team:

Maybe you just need a new recommendation (which you know we love to give). Here are the titles that have sucked us out of the deepest reading slumps and might help you, too:

Kate: Mhairi McFarlane

Mhairi McFarlane is my all time any time slump-fighting secret weapon. I save her books for when I really, really need them and/or to kick off a beach holiday and mark the ceremonial beginning of a week of absolutely no work reading (sorry to all my authors, I love and cherish you, I promise). She has the formula DOWN: loveable central character; charming, misunderstanding-laden romantic plot that makes my heart ache; and bang on, perfectly observed comedy. Even the deepest of identity- and career-questioning reading slumps can be ended this way, and I’m back to ignoring my friends and any reasonable sun safety measures in no time.

Sam: I’ll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara

Look – I know I said The Goldfinch was going to be the one, but I was wrong. It ended up being the birthday present I was six-months late to the party on. I absolutely devoured I’ll Be Gone in the Dark – in bed, on the bus, on the sidewalk: if any Murderino had seen me, I would have been a huge disappointment. Not only did I nearly walk into a pole, but someone could have easily been following me and I wouldn’t have had a clue because I quite literally had my nose in a book. Michelle McNamara’s voice seeped into my subconscious, and I dreamt about this nightly. It’s haunting, beautiful, so, so captivating and definitely hauled me out of my reading slump.

Peyton: The Space Between the Stars by Anne Corlett

This book brought me out of my post-grad reading slump. After the mandatory textbook reads and deep analysis of classic texts, I took what I thought was a healthy break from literature. But once it was time for me to pick something up for pleasure, I just couldn’t do it. I was given this book in the midst of my slump and was surprisingly delighted by the combination of post-apocalyptic space travel and swoon-worthy romance — something I generally wouldn’t reach for on my own accord. But it was a breeze to read and propelled me back into the book devouring state I’m meant to be in.



As always, thank you for reading, and be sure to tweet us @AgoraBooksLDN with your types for reinvigorating your reading!