Reboot Your Reading Routine

Have you ever read outside your comfort zone? If so, tell us about it in the comments! Was it inspiring or disastrous?

Sure, you know all about getting into a rut at work, socially, and in your exercise regimen. But what about in your reading life?

Even pleasurable pastimes can become dull. While you probably stick with a favorite genre, author or style of writing – and with good reason, of course! – doing so sometimes that limits your perspective, your circle of knowledge, and even your imagination.

I realized that I was in a reading rut this summer.

A pretty faithful reader of literary fiction, I’d been voraciously tearing through book after book that involved city slickers with flailing marriages, or emotionally-fragile heroines. The Vacationers, I’m Having So Much Fun Here Without You, My Life in Men, Beautiful Lies, Cutting Teeth. I couldn’t stop myself.

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To be certain, I loved just about all of them; they were truly wonderful books. But one day I started yet another novel of that ilk and I just couldn’t finish. I knew exactly what emotional response I’d have. I knew the characters too well. I was dead tired of these people and their problems.

So I went to Facebook (of course) and asked friends for recommendations with the caveat that I was looking to break out of my literary reading routine. When someone whose reading taste tends towards the philosophical suggested a Tom Robbins novel, I jumped at it.

While Jitterbug Perfume was at times too fantastical, too allegorical for my tastes, it was wildly imaginative and made me think about stuff I never had before. These were NOT my people (or pagan gods and time travelers in this case), but I loved them just the same. I still wasn’t ready to return to my reading homeland, though.

So I did what I’d been putting off for years: I read the Hunger Games. Again, I highly doubt I’ll become a loyal YA reader, but I had a hell of a good time devouring this bestseller in practically one sitting. Finally, satiated, drunk on new ideas and authors, I was ready to sober up and head back to my literary loves.

If you’re feeling like me and want a reading refresher, here’s some specific ideas tailored to various reading tastes to help you change it up.

witness nora robertsThriller Lovers
You might be surprised to find that there’s a whole world of romantic thrillers out there (guys, listen up!) where the romance is subtle but the whodunit aspect is racheted up. These books can be plenty terrifying and fast-paced, with feisty, smart heroines.

PICK >> The Witness by Nora Roberts

signature of all things elizabeth gilbertHistorical Romance Readers
If you’re drawn to these books, in large part because of the historical angles, there’s plenty of historical fiction out there that feature fantastic heroes and heroines and sometimes even include a love interest.

PICK >> The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert

bob dylan chroniclesLiterary Lovers
Why not change it up with some non-fiction? You can still get the regal writing and the intellectual jolt you’re looking for from a book of truths.

PICK >> Bob Dylan’s Chronicles

feast of the goat maria vargas llosaBiography Buffs
Reading about the lives of interesting people your thing? You won’t stray too far if you opt for a novel based on a real person or event. A good writer can make real-world drama come even more enchantingly to life.

PICK >> The Feast of the Goat by Varga Llosa

A Tale for time Time Being by Ruth OzekiScience Fiction/Fantasy Fans
You can get your otherworldly kicks via a superb literary fiction novel with magic realism, time travel, and other enigmatic twists.

PICK >> A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki

passionate nutrition jennifer adlerHealth and Wellness Junkies
If you love to read inspirational books geared towards living a healthy, well-intentioned life, consider diving into a cookbook. These days so many are centered around healthy-eating plans and also offer great stories and advice from authors who have suffered and survived.

PICK >> Passionate Nutrition by Jennifer Adler, MS, CN

RIFers, please add to our pick list … or tell us what YOU do to get yourself out of a reading rut!

Photo Credit: donatas1205/

About Kira Walton

KIRA WALTON has been stalking books all her life as a college English teacher, bookseller, book club consultant, author, and editor.

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