Monday, January 2, 2017

Reading Ruts: What to Do When the New Year has Left You in a Rut

Reading ruts.  They're the pits, aren't they? Whether they've lasted for an afternoon, for days, or for weeks ... or if you haven't read a book since Senior Year's final English semester, I have never met anyone who hasn't fallen into a rut at least once. I, for one, hate ruts.  It's silly, but I feel like it's a personal affront when my heart decides reading isn't the best use of my time. My reading time is sacred, dagnabit! So how do you cure that rut? I've been thinking about this a lot lately, and wanted to share a few ideas with you.
Thanks to bookriot.com for the image
  • GO BACK TO WHAT YOU KNOW. Even if you're not the kind of person who enjoys rereading a book (*gasp), everyone has a favorite book or a favorite genre that is as comfortable to them as a perfect pair of yoga pants. Whether it be a 57th readthrough of Twilight, Harry Potter, or The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire, if it's been a favorite of yours for years, it'll most likely still be a favorite. Why does it work?  Rereading books always makes me see things in a new light.  I notice pieces of the plot and clues I didn't before. It gets my creative juices flowing enough that it reminds me why I love reading.
  • TAKE A LITTLE BREAK. Sometimes, even rereading your favorites isn't enough. And, you know what? It's okay to find something else that helps you chill. Find a good season on Netflix, plant in your garden, go for a walk.  Try a podcast. I tell my fitness classes all the time how important a rest day is every once in a while.  Not seven in one week, but in fitness, if you want to get stronger, you have to allow your muscles a chance to recover.  You need to allow the same flexibility with your creative mind as well.  Sometimes, a LITTLE break is the best -- but don't you dare make it a permanent one!
  • FIND A NEW SERIES. This is why I like YA and MG literature so much. Series that may not be super deep, amazing, will-be-around-centuries-from-now classics in the making have their place, and sometimes that place is getting you out of a rut! I like Rick Riordan's books because they're fun, they're relatable, but also, I know one or two will come out a year. I always have something coming up I can look forward to reading. Prolific authors aren't always good authors, so this tip comes with a warning: Make sure you're choosing a series you're willing to stick with. I've read single books by authors that blow me away with their depth, intelligence, and heart, only to find that the same authors' series are terrible. Goodreads is great at emailing a list of new books by authors I've read, and I find myself really looking forward to that email monthly.  I immediately start requesting books I'm dying to read, adding ones I'm interested in to my To Read list, and that little spark of excitement can sometimes break through a rut all on its own.
  • ALLOW YOURSELF TO REMEMBER WHY YOU LOVE BOOKS. Is it the smell? The heft? The ease of reading? Try an audiobook. Are you open to an electronic book? What if you find a format that is more amenable to your lifestyle? Allow yourself the opportunity to explore. (Also, take yourself on a date to a bookstore.  Used or new, enjoy as much time as you can browsing the shelves.) Also, sometimes just the act of buying a book you've been dying to read can break through your rut!

I know there are so many other ways to conquer this particular pest. Whatever your find works best for you, let us know, and enjoy your newfound passion for reading!

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