What Does It Mean to be a Mood Reader?

Gia R.

Staff Writer

Gia R. is from Phoenix, Arizona. She graduated with two business degrees. While studying, her short nonfiction story was published in 2018 in Write On, Downtown, an ASU journal. Since then, she taught preschool students abroad. Now back in AZ, you’ll find her writing, reading, and adoring digital art.

The scene is set. You’re laying in a comfy spot. More than one candle is lit. Maybe you have some soothing music playing in the background. You are so excited to start reading this book that’s been on your TBR list for months. You open the book and read a few pages. As you hum to yourself, you try to focus on the descriptions, the words, and imagery. After a few moments, you can’t fight it any longer. You’re bored. You don’t feel like reading about this new character. You’re not sucked into the story. You sigh, close the book, and cast it aside. You doubt you’ll pick it back up anytime soon.

Instead, you scroll through your library app and see if there is something else that will strike your fancy within the next ten minutes. If you’re lucky, you find something right away and start reading it. Maybe you google, “books for when you’re feeling ___.” Unfortunately, you don’t find what you’re looking for. You close the app and stare at the book sitting on your coffee table. Why can’t you just pick it back up and push through? Why can’t you give it another try? You can’t explain it. All you can say is that you’re not in the mood. Does this happen more often than not? Well, then you might be a mood reader.

What is a mood reader?

A mood reader is a person who reads according to their mood. This means that their feelings and emotions often dictate what they’ll read. If they’re feeling happy and want to bask in that happiness, they choose a book or genre that will tie in with that feeling. If they’re feeling upset or angry, they may opt for a heart wrenching period drama or a dystopian thriller. The books could serve to expand an emotion or to comfort the reader. Either way, a mood reader selects and reads books based on how they are feeling at any given moment.

When I think about a mood reader, I typically think of someone who jumps from one genre to the other based on their feelings. Are they feeling like reading a YA fantasy novel or adult romance? However, a mood reader doesn’t simply go from genre to genre. They can, but there are other factors that a mood reader entertains and changes based on their mood.

Another criteria may be tropes. Since genres exhibit many tropes, it could appear that they are switching genres, when they really want a particular trope. You could really be in the mood for enemies to lovers instead of childhood friends to lovers. Or what about childhood friends to enemies to lovers? The setting could be important to the decision or be irrelevant because this reader is in the mood for a particular trope. With that in mind, the mood reader could choose based on a desired setting of a book. In the mood for a family in the wilderness in the early 19th century or a group of teens in a dystopian society in the year 3000? Furthermore, many mood readers choose a book based on the emotions it will inspire. Feeling sad and want to avoid a tearjerker? Grab a sweet coming of age story that evokes nostalgia.

Can’t we all sort of be mood readers?

Yes and no. Many people can be swayed by their emotions and stop a book if they aren’t in the mood, but a mood reader is more steadfast in their inconsistency. Anyone can have a time where they stopped reading a book or had to take a break once they felt a certain way, but a mood reader does this on the regular. They consistently switch books until they find a book, author, series, or genre that fits their mood. With that said, how can you tell if you’re a mood reader? Well, I’ve got a few signs that can help you figure that out.

Signs That You Are a Mood Reader

You Have Many Unfinished Books & a Sporadic Reading Schedule

First and foremost, a mood reader is someone who has many books they haven’t finished. Their TBR may be huge, but their DNF can also get quite long. This is because they won’t force themselves to continue reading a book, even if it’s good or has been highly recommended. Once they’re no longer in the mood to read that book, there’s no telling whether they’ll pick it up again.

Another clue is that you read sporadically. You read whenever you feel like it and don’t necessarily have a specific time you read each day. If you’re really into the webtoon you recently discovered, you’re reading that on your breaks and after work. When a book catches your eye at a bookstore, those errands are going to have to wait, because you need to start reading it now. If your friend gives you a recommendation AND you’re intrigued? That night, you buy the book. This also means that you may not read for weeks because you’re not in the mood to read any particular book or don’t know what book will fit in with your mood.

You Have a Huge TBR List That You Haven’t Really Touched

If you’re a mood reader, you probably have a ginormous TBR list. Why? Because you never know what you’ll be in the mood for. Don’t feel like reading the bestselling biography you heard about last week? That’s okay! Drop it in your TBR and maybe you’ll find yourself reading it later. This can also mean that you probably haven’t touched many of the titles you added to your TBR list awhile ago. Instead of sifting through ones you added early on, it’s easier for you to just review the most recent additions. You may know that some of the earlier ones are great, but you just can’t bring yourself to read them because you need to be in a certain mood. Maybe, you’ll never be in the mood! That’s okay.

You’ve Read Widely, But Not Deeply — Or Vice Versa

Next, you’re familiar with a lot of titles and genres, but you can’t always recommend a particular book, because you haven’t finished many of them. You’ve tasted many books, but depending on your mood, you might not have devoured many. You may have read a few books across genres, but don’t know a genre and all the major authors quite well. You could read a thriller one day and then a fantasy the next. In other words, you may have width, but not much depth.

With that in mind, once you find a genre or series that fits your mood, and the mood sticks around, you’ve probably read all the books in that category. If you’re only in the mood for YA fantasy novels, then you probably have read the popular ones and many of the lesser known ones. What you may lack in width, you make up for in depth. A mood reader can exhibit either one of these behaviors. What stays consistent is that they stick to what they know. Need some comfort? Then choose a book that’s similar to one of your favorites. You may read many genres or only a few, but you read what you’re comfortable with. If you know this genre will fit this mood, then you try it. This might keep you from reading other genres that could fit that mood, simply because you are unaware.

You’ve Experienced Reader Burnout and Can’t Follow Through on Reading Challenges

A mood reader might also be someone who has fallen out of love with reading at some point. Maybe you didn’t read according to your mood before, but after feeling burned out, you read whatever you’re excited about right now. Maybe you drop anything that you’re not in the mood for because you don’t want to fall out of love with reading again. I have definitely been there. I’ve done lists and challenges, but sometimes all I can do is continue reading whatever I’m in the mood for.

Speaking of reading challenges, mood readers consider them to be great…suggestions. They can inspire you to widen your choices of books and make you think of different genres. This is great and all, but you absolutely cannot be trusted to follow through on the reading challenge. You may have a great book picked out for book challenge 2 (read a book set in a bookstore), but you don’t know when you’ll be in the mood to read that. I started a few reading challenges in 2021 that I did not complete at all, but I read more books than I would have if I hadn’t tried.

You Can’t Really Stay Committed to a Book Club

Last, but not least, if you are a mood reader, then book clubs are not your thing. You like the idea of it, but the reality doesn’t always work out for you. You just can’t be expected to finish a chapter or certain page number by the time you meet to discuss the book. On the one hand, you might be so excited to read a book club pick that you finish the book and then read the others in its series or by the same author. You might also read other books that are similar and by the time that you meet up with your book club, you’ve already devoured the whole ice cream sundae while your companions just finished the first scoop of ice cream. On the other hand, if you select a book as a group and then end up not being in the mood for it, you put the book down and hope you’ll pick it back up before the book club meeting date. If the mood never comes, you might force yourself through it, try and find a quick summary, opt for YouTube video reviews of it, or bring wine and snacks and hope no one asks why you’re so quiet during their discussion. Either way, reading on a schedule and maintaining a consistent interest in a book is hard!

In everything we do, our choices can be susceptible to our emotions and feelings. The mood reader just happens to let these emotions dictate their reading decisions and habits. With any entertainment, our interest changes for a myriad of reasons and one’s mood is just one of them. If you’re a mood reader, then I encourage you to have many books at your disposal so that when the mood hits you, you’re ready. What do you think? Do you consider yourself a mood reader? Why or why not? And if not, then what do you think the opposite is?

Like this topic? Dive into these:

Why It’s Okay If You Didn’t Read This Year (And What To Do About It)

Why We Feel The Need to Share What We Read

On TearJerkers And Tragedies: The Importance Of A Good Story

The Benefits of Reviewing Every Book You Read