8 ways to develop a reading habit

8 ways to develop a reading habit

In For the Love of Reading by Kevin Gray

8 ways to develop a reading habit

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

First up, you need a good book. Or, ideally, several of them. Start a list of books you’ve always wanted to read, or classics you never got around to. Ask friends for recommendations, or consult a couple best-of lists to see what other people are reading. Don’t feel overwhelmed if your saved titles start piling up. You can always remove books, add others, or switch up the order at your discretion. The point here isn’t to follow a strict reading list; it’s to have several books on your radar, so you’re always ready to read.

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.


About the Author: Kevin Gray

Kevin is a Dallas-based writer covering all things lifestyle, including food, drinks and travel, and his work has appeared in The Dallas Morning News, Forbes, Men's Health, and other outlets. The Cormac McCarthy canon sits at the top of his favorites, but he can't resist a good whodunnit.