Reader’s Fatigue

I have reader’s fatigue.

Today, I asked my colleague, “What is the point of reading all these books?” Like, there’s just another pile waiting for me anyway, and it’s never going to end, and some of the books are literally the same story as the one I just read (I read a lot of YA). So, I’m feeling kind of bitter, jaded, and mostly fatigued about the whole thing. Has anyone else felt this way?

She told me to take a break, to listen to music instead. Good advice. Except for the fact that one of the books in my pile is an interlibrary loan, and I NEED TO GET TO IT. Do you know that stressful, anxious, urgent feeling I am speaking of?

It also doesn’t help that I am currently on committees that require me to read books (ALA’s Over The Rainbow booklist and the Red Cedar Award selection committee). I also have magazines that I subscribe to that I haven’t even had a chance to even flip through. Don’t even get me started on the journals that route my way at work. Why did I sign up for all those again? Oh right, so I can look through them to find MORE BOOKS TO READ. And I have to apologize to all my friends and anyone else who has loaned me a book of theirs, because they are sitting in the corner gathering dust, as I wade my way first through library books and have put your lovingly bought and owned books on the back burner.

Then there’s the book club I’m in, which some of you may be familiar with: the Book Club for Masochists. Each month a different genre is pulled out of a hat. This is a great way to read books from genres that one normally would never explore. I love this idea! And I like the people that are in the book club! But this month, I bowed out. I just didn’t participate (it’s mainly online). So, I felt guilt and shame about it. I wanted to be part of it, but I just had no time. And February is a shorter month than the rest so that makes it even more time-constrained.

It’s a never ending cycle and I need some intervention. Please, fellow readers and reader advisors, help me! How can I rediscover my love for reading when I am feeling completely burnt out? What is your advice? Do I just have to give up some of the titles that I have at home? Return them and release them back into the wild, and hope that one day they will cross my path again when I am feeling better?

Or when do you give up on a book? How many pages do you give it before you toss it back into the Return Bin? My threshold is about 50-100 pages, unless the first few pages are excruciatingly bad. Or do you power through so you can feel accomplished? I’m a quitter. I don’t have time to read bad books if I’m not into it. Or perhaps I need to quit reading for awhile and try and find myself again.

Someone just told me Reader’s Fatigue is an actual thing. Is it? Does anyone know?  I didn’t do any research on this topic. I am just expressing what I am going through at the moment, and hopefully it will touch a nerve with someone out there. Has anyone else heard of or suffered through Reader’s Fatigue? If so, how did you get through it?

– Alan Woo, Information & Teen Services Librarian, Guildford Branch, Surrey Libraries 


Today, the next morning, I am feeling better. Maybe all I needed was a good night’s sleep? Or maybe I just needed a BETTER BOOK? I ended up taking that interlibrary loan I spoke of for my morning commute read, and wow, I found myself thoroughly enjoying it and dare I say, chuckling audibly on transit. This is the book that may have saved me from myself:

Meaty by Samantha Irby.


This book is a collection of essays that read like hilarious blog posts from Samantha Irby, creator of the blog Bitches Gotta Eat. Thank you Ms. Irby for rescuing me and renewing my faith in reading!

Do you have a book recommendation that would save someone from Reader’s Fatigue?


4 thoughts on “Reader’s Fatigue

  1. Meghan Whyte

    Ha! Been there. Just stop. take two weeks off and return all the library books. Give yourself permission going forward to read just the first 50 pages and maybe the last 25 if you really need to know the ending. I’m pretty sure every other person in the Bookclub4m has had at least one “off” month if not more.

  2. Jenny

    Your page limit might need to be modified, 50-100 pages is a lot. I give a book up to 50 pages and have been known to stop before 20 pages. Skimming is also a good way to get the gist of a book without spending too much time on it. Perhaps your magazine subscriptions can be suspended or cancelled. Carve out a reading break when possible. Then read something fabulous. Hope that helps!

  3. Anna Rowe

    I totally get Reader Fatigue. I think it happens when you work in any book related industry and it’s usually the result of too much committed reading, especially when there are deadlines involved. I have had to pull back on some of my committed reading, which was really too bad because they were things I wanted to participate in but I also don’t want my reading life to become a chore. In terms of giving up on a book, I do it frequently. You might even say that I don’t give it a fair chance but I have done so much reading that I am very confident about what I can’t tolerate which usually boils down to the writing style. I can tell in the first few pages if the writing is not meeting my expectations and I don’t waste any tears putting that book down. Another thing I do which helps me, is to put everything I know I can’t get to on a TBR (I just use Goodreads for that and it works beautifully) That way, I’m not worried about forgetting about a book that I think I might like and can take it off the pile on my table. I refer to that TBR all the time.

  4. Jennifer W

    I would echo what everyone above has said: don’t be afraid to call it a day. I have also realised that if I bring a book home and I haven’t opened the cover within a week it is unlikely to be read – that helps me zero in on the titles that I really like. BUT, just in case, there is always that lovely “For Later” option in bibliocommons (or, as Anna noted above – the To Be Read option). You might go back to it. I don’t. I just feel better about putting the book back in the bin.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s