Regular reading is more than just entertaining. It keeps your mind sharp, improves vocabulary, can lower stress, and is even associated with longevity. So, there are lots of reasons to pick up a book. But with the fast pace of modern life, and the need to balance work with family and social obligations, it can be difficult to find the time for reading.
If you want to make reading a regular part of your day, it needs to become part of your lifestyle, just like anything else that’s important to you. Enlist these eight tips, and you’ll be on your way to developing a reading habit that lasts.
1. Create a reading list
2. Start with books that excite you
When starting that list, stock it with books that excite you. At this stage of developing your nascent reading habit, you want to foster continuation of the habit. If that means romance novels, a detective series, or a Stephen King thriller, go for it. This is your list, and if a 1,000-page volume on World War II isn’t your cup of tea, keep it on the shelf.
3. Set a goal that works for your schedule
If reading for an hour per day — or even just reading each day — isn’t realistic, that’s OK. Find a goal that works with your schedule. Maybe that means reading for 15 minutes each morning while you drink your coffee, or winding down at night with a book before going to bed. Maybe you read on weekdays after dinner and take the weekends off to focus on other activities, or you could skip the weekdays entirely and set aside a few hours every Sunday to really dive into your book. Whatever you choose, stick with the routine, and you’ll be more likely to keep it up long term.
4. Create a dedicated reading space
Reading in bed is a favorite activity for countless people, but if you find yourself falling asleep on the first page, you may benefit from a dedicated reading space. You don’t need to remodel your house to make it happen. Instead, form a cozy reading nook out of what’s already around you, like a comfortable chair, lamp, and side table. Stack a few books on the table, keep a blanket on the chair, and you’ll be ready to settle in when the time comes.
5. Minimize distractions
It’s difficult to do anything, whether that’s working or reading for pleasure, when you’re inundated with outside influences. Your phone, the TV, the day’s news, and even conversations with family and friends can all be positive on their own, but none will help you get past the first chapter of a new book. Once you’ve set aside time and found a quiet place to read, try leaving everything else behind. If needed, a good pair of noise-canceling headphones can help block out distractions, and they’re especially key if your reading habit is actually an audiobook habit.
6. But also, read when you can
Not everyone has the luxury of sitting in a quiet spot and reading for an uninterrupted half hour. Keep a book on you at all times — an act made significantly easier with the Scribd app — and steal a few minutes on your commute, lunch break, or even in the waiting room before a doctor’s appointment. If a book is always within reach, you’ll be more likely to pick it up when you get the chance.
7. Know when to put a book down
If you’re deep into a page-turner, it can be difficult to cut yourself off. If you’re still enjoying yourself and won’t suffer any ill effects the next day from a marathon reading session, keep on going. But if you’ll be better served by putting the book down to get some sleep or perform necessary tasks, do so knowing you can pick up the book again tomorrow. On a similar note, don’t feel compelled to keep reading a book just because you started it. If you’re not enjoying it, or you’re struggling to get into a groove and don’t look forward to reading, set it aside and pick up a different book. You can always try again some other time, but the most important thing here is to read, and that only happens when you like what you’re reading.
8. Join a book club
All habits are easier with a partner, from diet and exercise to reading. Joining a book club is a great way to stay engaged with the books you’re reading, and it encourages you to stick with your reading schedule knowing that others are reading, too. Plus, it’s social, and everything’s more fun with friends.