Girls' Night In - how to get out of a reading rut 📚

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I miss the bookworm I used to be, and I can’t seem to get myself back to the nighttime reading routine I used to have. I always default to the phone scroll and/or an episode of something to fall asleep to. Has anyone figured out a way to transition *back* to reading, when so much of what we read is relevant to our work? I have so much work-related content that I’m genuinely interested in, or histories/memoirs that relate to what I do—it’s hard to just relax and enjoy fiction anymore. (Which sucks, as a former lit major!) —Caitlin H.

Hi Caitlin,

Mary Anne here, and I wholly relate to your question. I think of reading as something that comes to me in waves: no matter how much I feel I've settled into a routine, eventually, my interest strays. Because of this, I've developed a few tactics that get me back to books. For even more suggestions, I also called in some of the most bookish people I know—GNI readers and the team behind audiobook company—to help!

first: why are you struggling with your routine?

You mentioned work-related content and nonfiction. If it's already of interest to you, I think reading some narrative nonfiction with really strong characters and a captivating plot might help you ease into fiction.

  • Two different vibes here, but GNI readers Amelia and Natalia recommend the memoirs Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler and The Autobiography of Gucci Mane by Gucci Mane and Neil Martinez-Belkin (Natalia wrote more about it here).
  • Mia couldn't get into novels for a while but switching to nonfiction with The Immortal Irishman by Timothy Egan, a transatlantic history that's been described as both "gripping" and "novelistic," was the cure.

If the issue is not having enough time, or just feeling like your attention span can’t hang for several chapters: read something short—it doesn’t have to be a novel.

  • You could read short stories to build that routine back, one story per night. Several people have told me that Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri is a favorite, and Afterparties by Anthony Veasna So's tales about modern families might resonate, especially this time of year.
  • Or poems: Nature Poem by Tommy Pico is a short, book-length poem I devoured in one sitting. Serious Concerns by Wendy Cope, and this poem in particular, makes me feel cheesily happy. I tend to read sad things, to be honest, but when I’m trying to get back to reading, it's much easier to dive into the comforting.
If you find yourself reaching for your phone when you wish you were reaching for a book:
  • Find events at your local library or bookstore, or virtual ones. Maybe an author talk will inspire you to pick up their book, or maybe you'll simply enjoy being in community with other literary folks. You can also follow people who talk about books on InstagramYouTube, or podcasts.
  • Try turning your devices into devices for reading: you can use to buy audiobooks from bookstores across the U.S. and Canada, and they'll split the profits with those local businesses. If you're new to audiobooks, or just looking for a good one to dive into, here are some places to start:

audiobook recommendations from the experts!

  • "It Happened One Summer by Tessa Bailey basically felt like reading a TV show because the dialogue was great (and the main character is based off of Alexis from Schitt's Creek)." —Alyssa Neumann, Product Operations Manager at

  • "Audiobooks told from multiple perspectives are great for fighting distraction. Each chapter is bite-sized, adds a new element to the central plot, and they're often voiced distinctly or have different narrators. Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi was an engaging nighttime listen for me this year." —Kelsey Norris, Content Marketing Manager at
  • "For a fun nonfiction that probably isn't related to work, Yearbook by Seth Rogen should keep you entertained and laughing!" —Jenna Clark, Software Developer at

  • "Novellas usually hook you quickly, and then when you finish you feel a great sense of accomplishment, so you pick up another." —Alyssa Neumann. curated a Quick Reads playlist for exactly this! 

If you want to give someone you know some audiobooks, gift memberships are 10% off at right now until tomorrow (FYI, this isn’t sponsored, we’re just sharing! GNI might get a cut of your purchase if you decide to buy).

More GNI reader recs!
  • Thrillers: Sydney says "Whenever I am in a reading rut, I go for a thriller because that's usually my best bet for feeling like I want to keep reading ('cause I have to know how it ends!)." She recommends The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides.
  • Romance: Simran gets back into books by reading "something fast and fun that tugs at the heartstrings" like Red, White, and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston. There were also several mentions of Jasmine Guillory, Talia Hibbert, and Helen Hoang's books in our DMs.
  • Other highly recommended reads: Lexi loved the characters in The Idiot by Elif Batuman. Rachel said the short chapters and compelling story in Matt Haig's The Midnight Library ended a reading rut. Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear worked because it's an "easy read with great plot twists," says Kat.
There were so many great and passionate book recommendations that we rounded up a ton more in this list. Let me know what you pick up! I’ll likely need the rec for when my attention span wanes again. —Mary Anne

P.S. This is our last issue of Downtime Dilemma for the year—hey, maybe that means more time for cozying up with a book? We'll see you next year, and if you have a question you definitely want us to weigh in on in January, submit it here.
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