Reading Rut-- What To Do?

It’s a new year, bookworms, and I feel I have to come clean. I’ve always felt guilty not finishing a book; to be clear, I feel guilty and disappointed. I’m always bummed when a book on my queue at the library finally arrives and I pick it up only to discover that I actually can’t finish the damn thing. It’s especially heartbreaking when I read reviews from respected bloggers or listen to praise from friends. This tends to lead to self-doubt… why am I not getting this title? Is it me? 

Maybe it's just the book.  And that's ok.

So, I’m going to start fresh. I began 2011 with The Knife of Never Letting Go and The Elegance of the Hedgehog. And I just can’t finish either.

The Knife of Never Letting Go is interesting enough. In all honestly, the writing is borderline terrible. Certainly not good enough to prompt suspension of disbelief. The narrator speaks in a somewhat sleazy southern dialect, but only sometimes. How many eyes viewed the script without noticing this inconsistency?  I definitely don’t believe this was intentional.

The Elegance of the Hedgehog, while eloquent and unique, was just plain boring. And, no, it’s not that I typically read fluff—where everyone walks away with a happy ever after, or a budding relationship that means more than life. No. I loved the ideas examined in the novel, namely: psychology and philosophy. I thought “wow, that’s some cynicism.” I liked it. But I never wanted to go back and start reading it again. I had to force it. And where’s the fun in that? Especially when I don’t have to do it. (I'm looking back on university days)

I have so many books on my shelf. I’m participating in the Classics Challenge and thinking I should probably pick something to get started. I’m also meeting my book club on the 12th to discuss the first half of TGLPPPS. I'm sort of overwhelmed by all the books I've purchased the last few months, and have no clue which title I should pick up next. 

How do you choose your next book? What do you do when you feel you’re in a rut and can’t find anything you really enjoy?

I started The Cookbook Collector on Saturday evening. Can’t say I’m especially enthralled at this point, but I’m going to give another 50 pages or so.


  1. Ugh! I hate being a rut like this. I hope you find your way out of it soon.

    Sometimes I decide to read a magazine or a novella instead. This way it's short and non-committal but I'm still reading. Then I hope maybe I'm ready for a book! If that doesn't work, I do a reread of a favorite book. Even if I don't reread the whole thing but just favorite parts or something it helps to get me excited. Another thing I do is read something REALLY out of my normal reading zone--something thrilling or fluffy. Sometimes it helps just to read something different.

    A book that got me out of a book slump earlier in the year was My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Murier. It would also be part of your classics challenge! :)

  2. Reading ruts are no fun! Have you ever read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith? It's one of my favorites. It's a classic of sorts, but it reads as if it's very modern. Anyway, I hope you find something that ends the rut soon!

  3. When I get in a rut I like to fall back on a genre I know I like. For me that's fantasy/science fiction. It brings back the pleasure in reading for me. Once refreshed I feel ready to read something else or something more challenging again.

  4. Jamie- Those are great ideas. I decided to toss the ones I really wasn't into aside and try something else. I'm actually enjoying The Cookbook Collector right now. It's interesting to see how other people get out of the funk. I'll keep your advice in mind.

    Bailey- I got A Tree Grows in Brooklyn at a thrift store pretty recently and have it sitting on the TBR shelf (meaning top of book case cause it's too full). I wonder if I could incorporate it into the classics challenge?!? I've heard so man great reviews.

    Chelle- I tend to really love sappy literary fiction but have wanted to get away from it. Obviously, the YA title TKONLG didn't work. So far Goodman's title is engrossing.

    Blogging books can make it difficult to keep the momentum-not vice versa- but I just have to remind myself that it's ok to move on if I don't like a title. And it's also ok to take a break.

    Thanks for sharing!

  5. When I get in a rut (which happens way too often) I go on Amazon and look at listmania for lists that contain books I loved and books I, therefore, might. Even if a book is great, it might just be that you picked it up at the wrong time in your life so keeping it on a shelf for later is good!

  6. I'm in a similar position - I have too many books on my shelf and I can take ages choosing the next read. I just tell myself that eventually I will read all of the ones I want to, so it doesn't matter which one I start with.

  7. Beth, I do the same thing. And I feel even guiltier because some of the books I don't finish are classics and held in high regard by most readers.

    By the way, I always enjoy coming to your blog and I was inspired to make my own. Check it out at

    Hope you had a great holiday and best of luck in the new year!


  8. Reading ruts. They happen. What usually works best for me to get out of one is to not read at all. I hate feeling like reading is a chore because it really sucks the fun out of it. When I take a few days off I get to the point where I want to read, rather than feeling like I should.

    Also, I wouldn't feel too bad about books you don't like or feel like you can't finish. It's not a race, and you won't like every book you pick up. It just won't happen. I'm also a firm believe that there is a "right book at the right time". Maybe the book you are reading now but don't enjoy so much, you will like a year from now. It's ok to put it down and pick it up later (or not at all...) Anyway, do what makes you happy and don't let it overwhelm you. That's when it becomes no fun.

  9. These are all great ideas. I've actually found a novel I'm going to stick with- well for the bookclub- in addition to The Cookbook Collector. Guilt seems to be a recurring theme here. Perhaps if you don't feel something speaks to you it's not, as everyone has suggested, for you at this time in your life. Or ever?!?! Thanks for all the motivational conversation. That's what book blogging is all about!

  10. I totally understand about getting in a book rut! I was in a book rut a few months ago, and did a small project where I read The Little Prince and The Little Prince graphic novels. They were quick reads, but dense in meaning.


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