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Getting Unstuck from a Reading Rut - News from Northside

July 22, 2021 at 11:19 AM by Brandi Cummings

Recently Read: The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynne Barnes

I don’t know about you, but the pandemic really took away my energy for reading. I found myself often mentally exhausted and reading felt so unappealing that I barely read anything in 2020. At the start of the new year, I set a small 2021 Goodreads goal for myself, one that didn’t even feel attainable at the time: Read 12 books, one for each month in 2021. When spring arrived and some of that winter heaviness began to lift, I started hitting my stride and recently blew past my goal for the year. 

Are you stuck in a reading rut? 

Here are a few tips that helped me out as I started reading again more regularly:

Wait to start reading until you find a story that makes you genuinely excited to explore. 

I started reading a lot of book descriptions and recommendations - sifting through our library catalog, Goodreads, StoryGraph, book-related hashtags on social media, anything I could get my hands on. Browsing our new book shelves and displays is also a great option! 

Earlier this year, I started seeing a lot of recommendations for The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynne Barnes on social media. I was drawn in by the description that promised mystery, a house filled with secret passages, and an inheritance that sounded like a game show, with a main character who had no connection to the billionaire leaving her his fortune (or does she?). It had a longer hold list, but I decided it was probably worth the wait and added my name to the list. 

Give the book some time to hook you, but if you aren’t enjoying it - let it go. 

What’s the fun in forcing yourself to read something? I usually give myself the first chapter. If I’m not interested in finding out what happens after that, then I'll let it go for now. Sometimes, that book just isn’t for you. Other times, you just aren’t ready for that book. Both of these things are ok. When I finish the first chapter, I consider whether I might come back to it or not. If I think I might, I keep it on my TBR list. If not, I let it go. 

In the case of The Inheritance Games - I was sold pretty quickly. Avery is an interesting main character and I was drawn in by her heart as she played chess for the right to buy breakfast for a local person experiencing homelessness and by her strength as she tried to tell her sister to choose between her abusive boyfriend or her sister, and probably most importantly for this first book in the series - her mind and the way every action she took was a calculated risk. 

Read whatever you want in whatever way works best for your lifestyle. 

Do you love working out or walking your dog? Try an audiobook on your phone. Do you find yourself waiting at a bus stop? Keep a book or e-reader handy while you wait. In my last article in this newsletter (a few months ago), I talked about how I like to read in the early hours of the morning, using the night mode on my phone to read without a book light. Recently, I’ve been combining that with an audiobook, so I can also listen in my car during my commute. For me, integrating reading into my schedule and the various things I do anyway has been invaluable. It makes those “between times” go much quicker and even makes some chores (laundry, anyone?) feel like something to look forward to.


Search for stories that line up with your reading preferences to help keep you engaged.


The Inheritance Games is the first book I’ve given 5 stars to in quite some time. For me, 3 stars means I finished the book and 4 stars means I liked the book. I give 5 stars when I get that feeling of contentment after finishing a book I really enjoyed and all I can do is sigh and take a minute to sit with it. I’m lucky that this book has a sequel coming out this fall, so I might get to experience that feeling again!

You can increase the likelihood of having this contentment (or however it manifests for you) by finding stories that bring together the characteristics you love the most. In my case, The Inheritance Games is medium-to-fast paced and adventurous, features a likable female protagonist, includes a bit of romance, has character development, but is largely plot-driven (and in this case - some surprising twists!). These are all things that draw me in and keep me reading. I would likely have been less interested if the book was medium-to-fast paced and adventurous, but had a main character I couldn’t stand.

Taking time to reflect on what you love about the books you enjoy most can help you (or your librarian!) find books you are likely to love as well. Did you know that library staff can make recommendations and help you find something new to read? Just let us know about a few books you enjoyed, why you enjoyed them, and we can help find something to make you excited to check-out. If you really want a shot in the dark - ask us what we are reading right now! You never know what we might suggest!

Content Warnings for The Inheritance Games: Death, Toxic Relationships, Abusive Relationships, Gun Violence, Suicide, Grief, Homophobia