Want to make reading a habit?
Are you tired of coming up with plans and ambitions to want to start or get back to reading, but never stick to it?
Don’t worry, I’ve been there too!
So in this post, we’ll cover 11 ways to make reading a habit and a long-term habit at that.
Pro Tip: If you want to learn how to read more books this year, check out our Ultimate Guide on 33 ways to read more books after this article! Click here to read!
Why You Need To Make Reading A Habit
Reading is more than just a time-filler. It’s actually good for you! Able to reduce stress and improve memory and reasoning skills, reading activates specific areas of the brain.
Evidence of this phenomenon is plentiful. One particular study, the Victoria Longitudinal Study, is one of the more cited resources. A cohort of 250 middle-aged and older adults were followed and analyzed over the course of the study.
Divided into groups, the adults were asked to read for a specific amount of time each day.
As the duration of reading increased, the memory retention of the adults improved.
Cognitive decline was also less noticeable in those that read frequently.
Fiction reading has also been associated with a higher level of empathy. Psychology experts say this is because fiction encourages the reader to see the world from a different perspective.
Reading is also a trait that successful people tend to share.
In fact, some of the world’s most notable and known people read dozens (sometimes hundreds) of books each year. (Check out how many one of the US presidents read in a year here.)
Reflection and perspective gained from reading are thought to be contributing factors in their achievements.
11 Ways to Cultivate a Reading Habit
An estimated 20 percent of adult Americans do not read at all (unless absolutely required). Most cite a lack of time or difficulty concentrating as their reasons for not reading regularly.
The development of a reading habit can allow you to overcome these issues (as well as many others).
If you’ve tried to develop a reading habit before but failed, the following 11 tips may help:
1. Make a List of Books You’d Like to Read
Do you become overwhelmed while browsing books at the store or library? Do the excerpts and covers seem to bleed into one?
You’re not alone.
The process of finding a book of interest (and its resulting struggle) can be off-putting for many new and would-be-readers. Avoid the same fate by taking the time to create a list of books that sound interesting to you.
Do it in your free time, no stress, no pressure.
Start by looking at book lists on Google and browsing topics of interest on Amazon.
You might even look to movies for inspiration, as many of them are book adaptations these days. Once you find a genre or sub-genre that you enjoy, you can follow the same vein for future book lists.
Keep track of your list, easily and stress-free, by creating a dedicated Gmail account for books. As you find one that interests you, email it to yourself.
Another option is to use a book review site, such as Goodreads, which allows you to create “to-read” lists with the click of a button.
2. Find (or Create) a Quiet Reading Spot To Help Your Reading Habit
While there are many readers who can (and often do) enjoy a good book in loud, distracting environments, most prefer the quiet. It allows them time to reflect on what they read.
Reflection exercises the parts used in memory retention. Since distractions can impede your ability to reflect during and after reading, it is recommended that you find a quiet space – especially when your first starting out on your reading journey.
Parks, libraries, and coffee shops are commonly chosen reading locations, but you can also create a place inside your home.
Strive to make the area as welcoming and distraction-free as possible.
It can be a chair by a window, or even outdoors. Just be sure to bring everything you need to your spot before opening your book. It’ll make your reading time far more enjoyable.
3. Set Specific Reading Times Throughout the Day
Habits are often concreted through brain association; it’s why bad habits like smoking and addiction become so ingrained into daily life.
Thankfully, when it comes to reading, you can use the brain’s penchant for association to your personal benefit.
Start by reading in small spurts throughout the day. Associate that time with a specific activity.
For example, you might enjoy reading while eating your breakfast or drinking your morning cup of coffee.
When the action starts to feel habitual and you no longer have to think about it, add another association into your life. Perhaps reading at bedtime or while riding the bus or subway to work.
4. Make Reading a Pleasurable Experience
Not every book on your list will move or interest you. In fact, you’re likely to come across at least a few books that feel like an outright chore.
Some books may only start out that way, so keep reading. As you delve deeper into the book’s content, you may find it more enjoyable.
If the lack of interest continues on for a while, be okay with setting the book aside. (One of the 33 tips we mention in our Ultimate Guide)
The goal here is not to necessarily finish the book, but to develop a good reading habit. You’re unlikely to continue the habit if you’re not enjoying yourself.
Remember, you can always come back to the book later, perhaps when you’re in the right mind frame for the specific topic or writing style. (This happens more often than most people realize!)
5. Reduce Your Consumption of Digital Entertainment
In a world where cell phones have practically become an extension of ourselves, allowing us access to both knowledge and our entire social circles, it can feel almost strange to disconnect from technology.
Yet, the development of a reading habit almost requires you to do so.
Countless hours are wasted while browsing through movie subscription channels and scrolling through social media.
Mindless internet searches on topics of little importance are daily (though often arbitrary) activity.
Reading forces you out of that mindless search for information by giving your brain something tangible to process.
Unfortunately, switching out habits can be difficult in the beginning.
Try grabbing a book instead of your phone when you feel bored or unsettled. Before long, books will become your default.
Also, reserve digital entertainment for specific times of the day, and keep your phone out of reach during reading sessions.
6. Join a Book Club or Reading Challenge
Book clubs still exist, and they’re not just for lonely housewives or geeky academics.
All kinds of people join a book club!
It’s a great way to stay accountable, and they can expose you to books that you might not have otherwise read or considered.
Of course, not everyone has the time or interest in a book club. Reading challenges often featured on book review websites, can be a wonderful alternative.
They allow you to stay accountable without having to dedicate extra time or energy into a book club discussion.
7. Blog or Journal About the Books You Read
Another way to stay accountable is through a book blog or reading journal. These methods of accountability can also further aid you in the reflection process.
Simply having a running collection of thoughts of what you read can motivate you to fill up your journal.
Trying buying a new journal for “epiphany thoughts” during your reading. Fill the journal out each time you come across a great quote or idea.
Wouldn’t want to leave the journal empty right? Thus you have a great motivator to make reading a habit and fill that journal up!
8. Make Regular Trips to the Library
Voracious readers can sometimes find the price of books prohibitive.
Combat this issue by visiting your local library on a regular basis. Not only will you have access to thousands of books – some of which you may not have otherwise discovered – but you also reduce the cost of buying new books. (Used book stores are another great place to find new and exciting reads.)
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9. Always Carry a Book
As reading becomes more of a habit in your life, you’ll slowly start to realize just how much of your life is spent waiting.
Doctor’s offices, time spent commuting, and even lines at the grocery store are times and places where people tend to reach for their phones.
Carry a book with you at all times and reach for it instead. You’ll gain countless hours of extra reading time, thereby further ingraining the activity into your daily rituals.
10. Dedicate a Day to Reading
By the time you reach this step, reading will likely be a regular part of your day.
Most likely, you’ll be thrilled to dedicate a special day to reading. As an added benefit, you’ll probably find that you’re more relaxed and grounded for the rest of your week.
11. Read to Your Children
Reading has long been connected to improved development in children. Give your kids the gift of reading (and further your own reading goals) by regularly reading to your kids.
If your child is new to books, give them a short-burst introduction that is similar to the one you had. Read to them for just a few minutes, then graduate to longer reading sessions as they become more engaged.
Consider trying books with pictures or graphic novels if their interest seems minimal. Also, when you select books for your child, don’t be afraid to go above their level. Challenging books can teach children to notice context clues, which inherently increases their comprehension abilities.
You can follow these 4 simple ways to develop reading habits for a child.
Reading is something that everyone should do, regardless of age or station in life. A wonderful way to improve your brain’s memory function and reasoning, it can bring more joy, knowledge, and empathy into your life.
Use our tips and start cultivating your life-long reading habit today.
Hope you enjoyed this post about how to make reading a habit.
These were 11 of our favorite tips but rest assured we have 33 total ways you can learn how to read more books this year. Just check out our Ultimate Guide (and other top posts) below!
Thank you again for reading!
Now go out and read more!