Sometimes, you just know: It’s time for a new read. The reasons vary, of course. In some cases, you just have an urge for a fresh book (or audiobook). Other times, there’s something about your current book that’s just not quite working for you. Either way, avid readers have a sixth sense that clues them in that they’re ready for something new. Take a cue, so you know when it’s time to advance to the next book on your TBR (To-Be-Read) list.
1. You just finished your last one.
It might seem like a no-brainer, but closing out your current read means it’s time for a new one. “I tend to have at least three books on the go — fiction, nonfiction, and audio — says Fiona Lucas, author of The Last Goodbye. That way, when she finishes any kind of book, she has a backup.
2. You happily put down your current read.
“If I dread picking up a book, that’s a sure sign it’s time for a new book,” says Rachel Kempster Barry, an author and 20-year publishing industry veteran. Also, if it’s taking forever to finish a book, that might be a sign to move on, but not always. “Sometimes you have to be in the right mood for a book, and that mood might not strike again for another 6 months.”
3. You’re deep diving on Wikipedia.
When Richard Conway, a writer, editor, and former culture reporter for Time magazine finds himself searching obsessively through Wikipedia articles on a subject, he knows it’s time to grab a nonfiction book on the topic. “During the more recent lockdowns, I found myself interested in things as varied as the Byzantine Empire, postcodes, and LGBTQ+ history. I ended up ordering two books on each of these subjects, and am happy to say I'm still reading them.”
4. You haven’t touched your book in what feels like forever.
If your book is literally collecting dust, it’s time to abandon ship. “This is a habit I cultivated a decade ago when I tried to read 100 books in a year,” Kempster Barry says. “If a book lost my interest, I stopped reading it and didn’t feel guilty about it! There are millions of books to read. It’s OK to abandon a few of them.”
5. You’re itching to get lost in another reality.
“I usually know it's time for some new fiction when I want to enter a new world, or re-enter a fictional universe I already know,” Conway says. If you’re craving some old-fashioned escapism, a new book should do the trick.
6. You’re wondering why the author made the choices they did.
“If I become so engrossed in a book that I don’t mentally edit it, I know it’s a good one,” says Sheri Cobb South, author of The John Pickett Mystery Series. On the other hand, if the author’s choices are leaving you scratching your head, or you feel frustrated by the turn the plot is taking, it’s likely worth looking elsewhere.
7. Your browser and downloads folder are filled with new book options.
Another telltale heads up that it’s time to snag a new read? You’ve been doing tons of book research. “A big sign that I have to scratch a get-a-new-read itch is when I have 10 or more tabs open with several different books ready to go,” Conway says. “Another huge sign is when I go to publishing house websites and download their upcoming publishing schedules. This is a little like window shopping for me, but it's usually the last stage before I go on a book haul.”
8. A book’s cover seriously catches your eye.
Despite the old adage that you can’t judge a book by its cover, super-appealing art can sometimes spur that “need a new book” feeling. “Sometimes I’ll see a book with a really striking cover, and it’s like it’s beckoning me: Look at me! Don’t I look more appealing than that book you’re halfway through?” Cobb South says. “Yes, eye-catching book. Yes, you do.”