Do you miss reading? Here’s how to get back into reading books. Get out of a reading rut and embrace your inner bookworm again with these four tips.
Get back into the habit of reading
Ten years ago I entered a Literary Dark Ages in my reading life. On average, I’d read about six books per year, and even that small handful was a struggle. This was a sad state indeed, because I’d been such a bookworm as a child.
I blame many things for my literary dry spell: College burnout, new jobs, and watching more T.V. because I was an adult and flush with new freedoms. But it didn’t feel right, this life without books. It wasn’t me. I had cut myself off from a source of knowledge, imagination, and whimsy that was vital to my being.
Finally, after my first son was born, I entered an Enlightenment period when books became magical, necessary, and doable once again. I forget what sparked this. Maybe it was because I was nursing around the clock and so I read during this newfound “time.” Maybe it was thanks to our push to live more simply and intentionally. Regardless, my reading life gained traction, snowballed, and became happily ever after once again.
So if you find yourself in a Literary Dark Ages right now, I get it. It happens, even to the most voracious bookworms. But it doesn’t have to last.
When you’re stuck in a reading rut, I have a few tips for getting back into the reading habit quickly.
1. Read a YA novel or a thriller
Even if these aren’t genres you normally read, I recommend starting with thrillers or Young Adult novels when you’re in a reading rut. Why? They’re engineered to hook your interest almost instantly. Momentum is key to getting out of a reading rut, and it’s hard to find momentum in a slow-build reading experience like a Dickens novel. So keep it highly accessible.
Here are some titles to try:
- Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
- Breeder by K. B. Hoyle
- The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins
- The Woman in the Window by A. J. Finn (Honestly, I don’t think the low reviews on this Amazon listing do the book justice at all. Check out this review and this one to get a more accurate taste.)
- Dark Matter by Blake Crouch
And of course, re-reading The Harry Potter series is always a great segue to a revitalized reading life!
2. Read the first three chapters of any book right away.
Even quick-hooking books can take a couple chapters to get into. For this reason, you should only start a new book when you know you can read the first few chapters without being interrupted. Save that new book for when you’re home alone, or after the kids are definitely in bed. Turn off your phone. Your job is to get immersed in the writing so that the next time you have a free moment, you’ll be inclined to keep reading rather than drift to a different activity instead.
3. Treat reading like a multivitamin.
Make books something you do every day, even if it’s just in small doses at first. You need to grease the gears to get the reading mill turning again, and that only happens with regular maintenance. Read when you first wake up, read during your lunch break, read for twenty minutes in the evening before you turn on the T.V. or open your laptop. If the multivitamin turns into a meal, great, but if not you’ll at least have some progress and you’ll be reinforcing the habit.
4. Keep a running list of the books that interest you.
Let’s say you get fired up to read again. You burn through a book, feel really proud of yourself, and then…..the habit just flickers out again and it’s a month before you pick up the next book. This is a very real danger for the erstwhile bookworm, but you can avoid it by always have a “go list” of intriguing books on hand. Any time you hear of a book that sparks your interest, capture that title. I like to keep my go list/TBR in an Amazon wish list, although I rarely buy books on Amazon. (But using Swagbucks is a handy way to get Amazon books for free!)
When my current read is almost finished, I browse my Amazon wish list until a few books jump out at me, then I put the requests in at the library. I like to have my next reads on the shelf and ready to go so there’s never any forced downtime.
The TBR Paradox
As I left the Literary Dark Ages behind I began to experience an interesting phenomenon. Initially, I was petrified by all the books I felt I needed to read. My TBR (To Be Read) list was long, and I almost felt there was no point in tackling it, because I’d never get to everything anyway. Plus, my TBR kept getting longer as I learned of new titles and authors.
But you know what happened? Something weird.
The more books I read and the more often I read them, the less daunting my TBR became…even though I was constantly adding to it!
I call this The TBR Paradox.
Let’s say you only read about five books per year. The time comes to choose your next book, and because you read so few of them, each book feels like a massive decision. There’s a lot riding on your choice when you know it’s one of only five titles you’ll encounter that year. You feel like each book has to be the most interesting, best choice possible.
BUT if you read dozens of books a year, each individual choice becomes less drastic. You might read a few duds each year, but no worries. You’ll read plenty of stellar books to make up for it. Your TBR will keep growing, but it won’t overwhelm you because you can look back on all the books you’ve read and see that you’re constantly making progress.
So if a hefty TBR is holding you back from jumping into reading again, do it anyway and see if this paradox holds true for you, too! Having a long TBR will be a promise of good things to come, rather than a burdensome checklist.
It doesn’t matter how many years ago you stopped reading books–you can always become a reader again. The best years of your reading life may not be behind you after all!
Did you used to be a big reader, but stopped? What one book or genre helps you climb out of a reading rut?
Other posts you’ll want to read next:
Here’s the hard truth about why you don’t read as much as you used to.
These 12 actionable habits will vastly improve your reading life.
Once you make reading a habit again, you can embrace your true nerdiness.
Ease back into reading classics with these 8 short picks.