Switch Up Your TBR

We all get slumpy from time to time. Whether it’s just because we’re too busy to read or we’re just not in the mood, it happens. Sometimes you’ll want to be reading, but it just doesn’t happen.

My general advice for when this happens is to just allow yourself to take a break. Watch TV, play a game, and do whatever else you’re in the mood to be doing. Then when you get back to reading, you won’t feel like you’ve turned it into some kind of chore. And I stand by that.

However, that doesn’t work for every slump or even every person. There are times we really want to read, but doing so is a struggle. In times like this, we need to change how we pick books.

There are several reasons for this:

  • You’re not picking up enough variety, and you’re getting bored.
  • You’re not giving yourself enough choice, or you’re giving yourself too much choice
  • Your time constraints have changed, so your reading needs to change too
  • A format just doesn’t work for you anymore

There are other reasons, but most of the time, it can be narrowed down to one of these.

I’ve been in a bit of a slump recently. It’s not terrible. I’m still reading, I’m just reading a lot slower than I usually would, and that includes reads I’d usually find super quick, like romances. I don’t have much focus, so if I want to keep reading, I need to be a little less strict in how I’m choosing books. Especially as I have a lot of books to review too, on top of whatever else I pick to read.

Generally, I have a TBR jar. I write down all my books on little slips of paper, and then whenever I need a new TBR pile, I pull from there. ARCs are added on top of that, as are any books I’m desperate to get to right now. Unsurprisingly, that could lead to large TBR piles that take a while to get through. The main problem is that I like pulling books from the jar. I get the same thrill pulling possible reads and buying new books. Sometimes even when it’s not a story I’m very excited about. It’s like picking them up in the shop all over again, and now I get to read them! That would often lead to me making a second TBR pile when I’m not even halfway through the first, as I just want to pick more books already! You can imagine the stress that led to, which is ridiculous, as reading is supposed to be fun. I started to experiment with making smaller piles, and I’ll definitely be continuing that, but as I hit my slump, I realised that I need to try something else.

So I’m mood reading for a month or two! I already have so many books that I need to read that I just want to make the rest of my reading easier on myself. This way, if I want to binge romance after one of the romance ARCs, I can, or I can pick up a fantasy or sci-fi to balance it out. I’ve still made a pile. It still wound up being a large pile, oops? But I am being kinder to myself and saying I can remove or add books if I’m no longer in the mood. That seems to be working for now. I have no clue what I’m going to read when I finish this pile, but that’s fine. I’ll work it out. I just want to keep reading, and I don’t want to let my struggling focus stop me.

Usually, when I can’t focus well, I turn to audiobooks. Yet, I’m not really in the mood to be listening to one right now. I thought that would frustrate me, but it hasn’t. I’m just not in the mood to listen to a story, and that’s okay. What it means is that I really did need to try something different. I can’t go, “oh I’ll just listen to an audiobook” whenever my focus is lacking, as sometimes I still won’t be able to focus.

Essentially, what you need to do is take a look at yourself and your reading. If you want to or need to take a break, then do so. It won’t make you any less of a reader. We read for fun and a hobby, and if it isn’t feeling like either of those things, then it isn’t really worth doing it. When you do need to or want to continue reading, you need to find ways to make it work for you. A few of the booktubers I watch have been changing their TBR games. They’ve been either playing for two months at a time, or they’ve changed up their rules. I totally understand that. Part of the reason I didn’t get on with TBR games was that they’re both open and restrictive. And I just wasn’t sure that worked for me. I need one or the other, basically.

So try changing up how you pick. If you have a set TBR, then try mood reading. If having too much choice doesn’t work for you, change it up a little more. You could find TBR prompts to give you some guidance or just switch to a different way of picking your TBR. I’ve written before on a couple of ways to jazz up your TBR if you need some guidance. Sometimes we just need to do something different to knock out the cobwebs and make reading seem fun again.

Finally, there could be a few other things you need to do. I mention time constraints changing, and if your job has changed or you’ve had a baby or whatever else, you might have less time to read. When that happens, reading thick or complicated books could make you feel worse. I don’t like reading thick books personally as I don’t like being stuck in one book for a long time. I want to explore as many different stories as possible. If you suddenly have less time, try switching to shorter books. At least until you’re used to the change. By getting through a similar amount of books as you used to, you’ll likely keep the momentum of your reading. We want to avoid slumps where we can, so you might need to switch up genres or sizes.

On that note, you also need to ensure your TBR has variety. It’s all well and good reading a ton of fantasy or contemporary in one week. But if that’s putting you in a rut, you should try to mix it up. Put that literary fiction in between a middle-grade and a thriller. Keep your brain working so it’s not seeing the same thing over and over, and you can see the difference in what you’re reading. It’ll make things a little more interesting.

So that’s it. There are a few tips and tricks to try when reading just isn’t working for you, but you want it to. If you’re still stuck, but you want to read, I have another post on making yourself read here. I’ll add again that it’s okay if you just don’t feel like reading. Sometimes a break is what we need. But if reading is the hobby you do to relax, so you want to keep it up, hopefully, these tricks will help make it a little more fun again.

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