8 books to read when you feel like you're stuck in a rut.

We've all had periods in our lives when we've felt like we're stuck. 

Like all our dreams feel so far away and the obstacles between them and us seem insurmountable. 

In these moments, one small passage from a self-help book or memoir can completely change our perspective on things. And reading about a fictional character who tackles their own insurmountable obstacles can encourage us to do the same. 

So, on that note, here are eight brilliant books to read when you feel like you're stuck in a bit of a mental rut: 

The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

Image: Allen & Unwin/Mamamia. 

I avoided reading The Midnight Library for a long time because it felt almost too close to home. 

For years, I've wished that I could go back and redo a large chunk of my life. Make the right decisions. Pick myself up after the failures and turn them into something better. 

In The Midnight Library, Nora Seed gets to do just that. Haunted by her past mistakes and missed opportunities, and feeling isolated from the rest of the world, 35-year-old Nora ends her own life. 

She wakes up in 'The Midnight Library', a place between life and death where she gets the chance to live all the lives she missed out on. 

The Midnight Library is a life-affirming novel about the choices we make, the little moments that make a big life, and the realisation that it's never too late to start over. 


Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

Image: Bloomsbury/Mamamia. 

Elizabeth Gilbert is the poster girl for women who reach a certain age and then realise that maybe the life they've built for themselves isn't actually what they want. 

In her bestselling memoir, Gilbert writes about leaving her marriage, career and mortgage behind at 34 to travel around Italy, India and Indonesia. 

By eating, praying and loving her way across the globe, Gilbert figured out who she really was and want she wanted out of life. 

So if you feel like you're stuck in a rut, and you're ready for a big life change, you need to read Eat, Pray, Love.

Watch Keryn run through her best thriller book recommendations. Post continues after video.

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Wild by Cheryl Strayed

Image: Allen & Unwin/Mamamia. 

Cheryl Strayed's 2012 memoir Wild is responsible for millions of women throwing out the rule book and finding themselves in the most unexpected places. 

At 22, Cheryl felt she had lost everything and would go nowhere. Her mother had died, her family had scattered, and her own marriage was disintegrating. 

Four years later, with no experience or training, and guided by only blind will, she decided to hike the Pacific Trail - from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State - on her own. 

Wild tells the story of her hike, the obstacles she faced along the way, and how the journey ultimately healed her. 

Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes

Image: Simon & Schuster/Mamamia. 


As an introvert, a mum of three, and one of the most successful women in Hollywood, Shonda Rhimes had every reason to say no to the never-ending invitations that arrived in her inbox. 

She was happy being a 'no' person. 

Then came Thanksgiving 2013, when Shonda's sister Delorse muttered six little words at her: "You never say yes to anything."

So Rhimes decided to spend a year saying yes. 

Profound, impassioned and laugh-out-loud funny, in Year of Yes Rhimes reveals how saying YES changed - and saved - her life. 

Rachel's Holiday by Marian Keyes

Image: Penguin Books Australia/Mamamia. 


Marian Keyes made me want to be a writer. 

I devoured her books in my teens and early 20s. She made me laugh out loud and her words reminded me that everyone goes through s**tty times. 

I particularly loved the books focused on the Walsh sisters. Anybody Out There? and Watermelon are two of my favourites, but Rachel's Holiday is the story that has stuck with me for decades. 

The novel follows the story of 27-year-old Rachel Walsh, whose family has admitted her to Cloisters – Dublin’s answer to the Betty Ford Clinic.

During her time at Cloisters, Rachel learns to face her demons and finally get her s**t together. She's Phoebe Waller-Bridge's Fleabag, but 20 years earlier and Irish. 

It's a funny, intimate, clever look at what it feels like when you think you've f**ked your whole life and how you can slowly piece it back together.

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

Image: Mamamia. 

This book made me believe I could actually be a writer! Do the things! Get paid for it! 


Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear is Elizabeth Gilbert at her best. In it, she shares creativity lessons from her own life, her friends and the people she admires, and urges the reader to embrace their curiosity, face their fears and get s**t done. 

It gets a bit woo woo in parts, but it's the kind of book everyone will get something from. Plus, you can revisit it time and time again throughout your creative journey. 

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

Image: HarperCollins Australia/Mamamia. 

30-year-old Eleanor Oliphant lives alone in a tiny Glasgow flat.

During the week she works as an accounts assistant at a small graphic design firm. Her colleagues think she’s odd and often loudly mock her in the staff room.

On the weekend, she eats pizza and drinks vodka and aims to completely avoid humans. Once a week she speaks to “Mummy” on the phone, who tells her she’s ugly and worthless and will never amount to anything.

Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine… except she’s not.

Something happened to Eleanor when she was a child, something so horrible, so unfathomable, she’s tucked it away inside her mind and decided not to deal with it. She’s shut herself down and is only going through the motions of life… not actually living.


This strategy works perfectly well for her until she meets Raymond, the firm’s scruffy new IT guy.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine is a coming-of-age story about a 30-year-old woman who has been hiding from the joy, the intense love, gut-wrenching pain the human experience can offer. And for that reason, it works as brilliant blueprint for kick starting your life if you feel like you've been coasting for a bit too long. 

The Multi-Hyphen Method by Emma Gannon 

Image: Hachette Australia/Mamamia. 

Emma Gannon is a podcaster, a writer, a public speaker and an author. 

In her book, The Multi-Hyphen Method, she writes about how you can create your own career, on your own terms. 

Gannon says it doesn't matter if you're a part-time PA with a blog, or a physio who runs an online jewellery store in the evenings - whatever your ratio, whatever your mixture, we can all channel the entrepreneurial spirit.

The Multi-Hyphen Method is the ultimate guide to rewiring your own version of success and working your way towards it.

Keryn Donnelly is Mamamia's Pop Culture Editor. For more of her TV, film and book recommendations and to see photos of her dog, follow her on Instagram and  TikTok

Feature Image: Booktopia + Mamamia

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