Reading Ruts and Getting Over Them (+ book recommendations)

There are times when I read a LOT, and there are times when I get a few pages in every day. And then there are times when books collect dust on my nightstand. It can be frustrating to fall into a reading rut, especially because it’s something I really enjoy. I also love discussing books with friends, and I feel like a failure when I have nothing new to bring to the table!

This year has been a whirlwind (like, we’re nearly 25% through already, whatttt!) and it’s only now that I’m getting back into the habit of reading. I’ve had to rearrange my schedule a little bit to make it work, but it’s all leading to healthier habits anyway.

Because I slip into these ruts now and then, I do have some strategies to get back out of them. Here’s what I do:

ONE // Even though it sounds counterintuitive, I try not to force it. Of course, this particular point won’t work if you have required reading for school (sorry friends!). But it’s required reading that I try to avoid altogether when I’m pulling myself out of a rut. Outside of school, I think reading should be something enjoyable, not a chore. So if I’m not feeling it, I don’t want to read just to say I’m reading.

TWO // When I finally feel like I’m in the mood to read, picking up short books or ones that I 100% know for sure I am going to love is the way to go. Book #1 post-rut is not the time to pick up War and Peace. (Unless that’s your jam, in which case, go for it!) I keep a running list of books that sound interesting to me on my Goodreads account, and that helps me narrow in on something to read quickly!

THREE // While I typically have a stack of unread books ready to go in my apartment, going to a bookstore always reinvigorates my excitement for reading. I don’t know if its the colorful covers, the smell, or just the sheer volume of books. Even if I don’t buy a book while I’m in there, I come out with motivation to read!

FOUR // Now, this is one of my biggest pet peeves. When someone says that they “don’t have time,” they’re really just saying that it’s not prioritized. There is nothing wrong with not prioritizing something– that’s your prerogative! I fall into this all the time. When I say I don’t have time to read, I’m saying that I haven’t prioritized it. For example, in January/February, I barely read. But you better believe I watched way too many episodes of The Mindy Project every night. That was my priority, not books.

I had to break that habit if I wanted to have time to read at night– and I did want to start reading again. I used to do a lot of my work at night. I still do a big chunk of work from about 5 pm and onward, but I push myself to wrap up before 9:30. I give the dogs one last walk, then get ready for bed, and finally climb into bed by ten so I can read! It took about a week of being home every night (and not traveling) to make it stick. So far, so good.

Book Recommendations

Do you have tips for getting out of reading ruts?! They’re always so frustrating! So I’d love to hear what you do!

If you’re looking for good books right now, I’ve recently finished three. All of which I recommend for getting back on track for reading, too.

When God Winks at You | One of my friends from Tampa sent this book to me, and it was the perfect short read. It has a similar feel to the Chicken Soup for the Soul series, which I have always enjoyed. It’s a little religious, but I feel like you can swap out the word “God” for whatever speaks to you. The message was just what I needed to read, though. It’s all about “coincidences” or godwinks in your life and what they mean. The book is filled with little stories of different kinds of godwinks.

Behind Closed Doors | I don’t know why I’m so obsessed with this kind of books, but I am. I can’t get enough! This one is about the perfect couple that really isn’t so perfect. I didn’t love the book at first, but sure enough, I was staying up way too late to read just five more pages. If you liked Gone Girl, I think you’d enjoy this one too!

Things I Should Have Known | This is technically a young adult book. It has all the key characteristics of teen lit (popular girl dating the popular guy, lunchroom drama, angst), but the plot is still pretty unique as it follows sister and brother pairs navigating high school, dating, and family life with siblings with autism.

What books have you been reading lately?

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Love these recommendations! I do the same thing with bookstores. I will literally have a big stack of books on my desk to read and I will *still* pop into a bookstore. There’s something about seeing shelves of them that get me so excited about reading!
One book I just read is “Marlena” by Julie Buntin. I quite liked it and it’s a super quick read!

xo, Sofia


I agree, when I’m in a “reading rut” I get back into the grove with an easy read. The Couple Next is a thriller that I read in a day and a half. I also don’t like to buy too many books at one time because it starts to feel like I’m creating a long “to do” list.

Katherine M

Loved your comment about how “not having time” really means that something is not a priority. I deal with some quasi-shame for being able to work out while in law school because so many others “don’t have time,” but I’ve recognized that my priorities are priorities because they make me feel healthy. Bye to the haters and quasi-shamers.


Okay… that made me so sick to my stomach and I did put the book down for the night! That was my BIGGEST issue with the book.


Love your blog & love this post! I was in a reading rut towards the end of last year, but this year I’ve been back into it (I’ve made a little challenge for myself to try to read more books in 2017 than I did in 2016). I usually read before bed at least 4 nights a week and it helps clear my head before sleep. Currently I’m reading Out of The Easy by Ruta Sepetys. I highly recommend her other books Between Shades of Gray & Salt to the Sea as well!


I relate to this post so much! Reading has been a constant friend in my life but sometimes I can go months without picking up a book because I am just not feeling it. My mind is always more peaceful when I am reading! I recently broke a reading rut with the book “All The Missing Girls” by Megan Miranda. It was the perfect book to pick up. It’s also something you’ll love if you love Gone Girl but I felt it was better than other books that are trying to intimidate Gone Girl. Sometimes I find when I read I start to skim paragraphs if the author goes overboard on trying to describe something simple like the color of the sky… I never missed a sentence in this book .. the author was so careful with her words.. they all mattered! What a page turner!!!!


Carly, these are great tips! I was in a reading rut a a few weeks ago… I started “The Shack” and just had no motivation to read it, although it’s a great book! Thankfully I’m back into reading and I’m almost finished with my book now!

Sweetly, Sally //

Allie Anderson

I so enjoyed this post! I totally agree that reading ruts are all about prioritization. When I’m in a rut, I’ll pick up something quick and witty. I recommend Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell, Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky (way better than the movie), and Sweetbitter by Stephanie Dahnler (one of my all time favorites) Right now, I’m reading Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders. I haven’t been able to put it down.

Books in the Air

Love this Carly! Totally agree with everything you said- we all fall into ruts when we are not as reading as much, but it is the best feeling when you get out of it! Thanks for your thoughts!

Audrey | Brunch at Audrey's

January and February were fantastic reading months for me, but March got super busy, and April is only getting busier. This month I’ve only read one book, which was Before the War by Fay Weldon which I didn’t enjoy all that much, but I’m currently reading Startup by Doree Shafrir and I’m enjoying that one! -Audrey | Brunch at Audrey’s


I love reading right before bed. It’s the perfect way to wind down. I wish there were more bookstores around. Roaming through and reading the backs covers is one of my favorite things. I just started The Dollhouse by Fiona Davis and so far it’s really good!

Caitlin |


Try The Thousandth Floor by Katharine McGee–it’s sort of a young adult, futuristic Gossip Girl set in NYC, but NYC is just a giant tower… a fun, quick read.


Such great tips, reading is probably my favorite thing to do to relax.
Lauren |


So true – sometimes my biggest reading ruts come from making other things a bigger priority – which can be totally fine! The biggest thing to get me out of a reading rut is to pick a book that I know I’ll love and listen to it as an audiobook. That helps me get back into the groove, slowly, and by the time it’s done I’m usually dying to get my hands on another book!


I just got done reading a little book called “Lady Leader” about being a girl boss after a friend had gifted it to me. It was really interesting, but I’m hoping to start either “Present Over Perfect” soon or some classic novel, I just don’t know which one yet. Happy reading everyone!!
– Abby


Being in bed by 10pm started out as my reading goal & now I find myself picking up a book more evenings than watching TV. You’re right in that it’s all about creating habits & reading is one of those easy ones in forcing yourself to get into bed a little earlier!


I find that downloading audiobooks is also really helpful.. I often hybrid the two-I’ll listen to part of it in the car, and read part of it in bed. This is honestly the only way I’m able to get through so many. I’m not much a TV watcher, but I am a social media-er. That is my downfall when it comes to priority. Thanks for these book recommendations too.. I’ll have to check them out. I just posted my March book review 🙂


This is the second recommendation I’ve seen for When God Winks, so it’s next on my list!

Two recent reads that I’d recommend for you:
– The Kind Worth Killing – definitely a page turner and some twists!
– In The Dark Dark Wood – psychological thriller taking place in the woods. I read it in 2 days!


I totally agree that going to a bookstore always gets me more excited than grabbing a book that was waiting on my bookshelf at home!

Rebecca Dennee

I just finished Big Little Lies and it was so good! The show is also amazing and has a great cast but the character development from the book can’t be beat. There are a few differences between the two but both are great. Perfect beach read!


I work in a library and always have endless reading options but this happens to me too! My go-to trick is reading an old favorite, like Harry Potter or an Emily Giffin books. Always jump starts my reading engines!

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Love these recommendations! I do the same thing with bookstores. I will literally have a big stack of books on my desk to read and I will *still* pop into a bookstore. There’s something about seeing shelves of them that get me so excited about reading!
One book I just read is “Marlena” by Julie Buntin. I quite liked it and it’s a super quick read!

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Love these recommendations! I do the same thing with bookstores. I will literally have a big stack of books on my desk to read and I will *still* pop into a bookstore. There’s something about seeing shelves of them that get me so excited about reading!
One book I just read is “Marlena” by Julie Buntin. I quite liked it and it’s a super quick read!