{Discussion} When Reading Habits Change


For the last ten years, my reading habits have been more or less the same. Ever since I could drive myself to the library, I’ve been checking out a large bag of books every week. Once home, I’d always arrange my haul of twelve or so books on the bedroom floor and graze randomly through the collection based on my mood. Most of these books never got read. They were there to be my comfort blanket. I liked knowing I had options waiting for me every time I finished the book in my hand.

I’d read YA next if I was looking for something easy to read and escapist. I’d read fantasy if I was in the mood to get away from the real world. Literary fiction and non-fiction were my respites when I’d had too much of dragons. Romance, graphic novels, and memoirs were saved for bad days and classic literature for very good ones. My reading topics were erratic and I’d always try to check out a wide variety of books just in case I was in the mood for something off-the-wall.

It was nice to read so diversely, but mood-based reading had it’s downfalls. I’d get frustrated when I didn’t have a book on the topic I wanted to read or if I was so emotionally down that I couldn’t decide what mood I was even in. Depression was (and is) the enemy of mood reading and caused me a lot of problems–especially in the last four or five years. I’d go weeks without reading anything other than comics and graphic novels simply because I couldn’t commit to any longer fiction.

For better or worse, I figured this sort of mood-based, randomized browsing would be my reading style forever, but after getting a job at the library last Fall, my habits changed dramatically. Now, I always know what I want to read without having to consult my mood. I may leave off the next book in my TBR if I’m too stressed or depressed to take it on, but for the most part, I stick to a schedule of “I’ll read this, then this, then this.”

When at the library, I only check out a handful of books at a time now. Sometimes I skip checking out anything all together for an entire week so I can finish what I already have. I also read a lot of books that I own, and I’ve even started purchasing new books from my To-Read list–which is something I haven’t done since college.

It’s weird how different this all is, but I’ve thought about it and I do believe that there’s three main reasons that my habits have changed.

First, I’ve finally started a proper TBR. My to-be-read pile’s not large, but every season, I pick five books off my shelves to read. This started last Summer, and it’s gotten me reading specific books in a specific order for the first time. Now, whenever I wonder what to read next, I go to my TBR shelf and pick up a book. I’ve even starting adding books to the shelf as I clear it out. This means, I’m reading through more and more books I own–which is nice because that one shelf directs my reading in a productive, shelf-cleaning sort of way.

The second reason I believe my reading style has changed is because I have bookish coworkers for the first time. Almost weekly, I get recommendations from librarians and shelvers on what I should be reading next. Because I see these people on a regular basis, I always try to remember to read their recs as soon as possible so we can talk about them.

Thirdly and finally, joining a Reading Challenge this year has definitely affected my habits. This is the first reading challenge I’ve ever joined and I’m enjoying figuring out books to read for each part of the challenge. Sometimes, these books overlap with my TBR or my recommendations, but mostly, I choose to read books that I’ve been meaning to pick up for a long time (to sort of shame myself into getting them done).

Between these three things, my reading life is covered. I might have some time to spare for a Graphic Novel or Manga if I want a palate cleanser, but mostly, I’m just juggling my TBR, recs, and Reading Challenge. I’m to the point where I have to schedule out my reading so I can get them all done.

It’s a nice way to go about things, actually. I’m a list maker and scheduler from way back so it feels like my reading habits are finally corresponding with my personality. I like not being a mood reader anymore. There’s a lot less books to wrangle and I spend a lot less time agonizing what book suits me best.   

Have your reading habits ever changed? How do you choose what to read next?


15 thoughts on “{Discussion} When Reading Habits Change

  1. Great post! My reading habits change a lot over time, depending on what’s going on in my life. When I’m stressed I want easy reads, but then I get bored and I want books that are more literary. Blogging has had a huge impact on my reading, because I discover new books and challenges push me to read things I wouldn’t otherwise.

  2. ^ I agree with curlygeek04

    I also have a giant list of ‘To Reads’ on Goodreads, which is really helpful in logging what I’ve read and choosing what to read next. I’ve also discovered that being a blogger has encouraged me to read things quicker than I normally would have (e.g. I planned to read Jane Eyre but never got round to it, but a blogger recommended I read it, and I speedily got to work with it!).


    1. For some reason, I’m horrible at organizing my Goodreads “To Reads.” I’ve tried to use it as my actual TBR a couple of time, but it just never works for me.

  3. I’m not sure I really have any reading habits. I need to be in the mood it seems lately, which wasn’t always the deal before. I might start a book and just not be in the mood to keep going, even if the book is good. I tend to read series it seems, so normally I just hope right into the next one. It makes picking the next book pretty easy. Or I’ll check out other books by the same author.

  4. My reading habits have definitely changed. I find myself not reading as much lately. It kinda freaked me out at first, but I’m realizing it’s just a time thing. I know that when things slow down a bit, I’ll have time to read more.

  5. I used to read absolutely anything that came my way. I’ve gotten a lot pickier as I’ve gotten older, often opting for YA fantasy or adult urban fantasy and nothing else. I feel as though I may be limiting myself, but I’m loving what’s out there for YA fantasy right now.

  6. I found my reading habits changed drastically after college. After a 4 year English Lit degree, I was just burnt out on reading all together. Slowly I started reading graphic novels, and then lots of non-fiction books, but I still have trouble fitting fiction reading into my regular schedule. I have a big TBR pile on my nightstand, but most nights I just drift off with a podcast instead of a book. I’m sure going to bed a little earlier will help with that, I just need to be a little more disciplined.

  7. I’m in the same boat. I used to go to the library and pick up books on a whim, but now that I’ve been involved with the book blogging world for a few years, I have a massive TBR list on my library account that I pick from when I’m ready for new books. I actually love that–I’ve read way fewer clunkers (and way more variety) than I used to when I was just judging books by their covers!

  8. My reading habits have changed over time too. I also used to read based on my mood 😮 Then, I changed to what caught my eye, and now it’s more dependent on sets of topics I’d like to read. My wishlist for to-reads is too large though… LOL

    1. I’m horrible when it comes to reading books about different topics. I have a short-attention span so usually by the time I get a book out about one topic that interested me, I’ve already moved onto something else!

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