How to Develop a Reading Habit

What was the name of the last book you read? Can’t remember? Well maybe it’s time to build a new reading habit! You may think you don’t have time to read. Or maybe you haven’t enjoyed reading much in the past.

Author J.K. Rowling suggests,

“If you don’t like to read, you haven’t found the right book.”

Finding a book that interests you can make all the difference in the world. And books aren’t the only reading material. There are all kinds of magazines, booklets, newspapers, and ebooks. You can read a paper book or get an ipad to hold your book collection. Whatever works best for you is just fine! The main thing is to start reading!

If you don’t feel like reading the article here’s the video version:

How to Develop a Reading Habit

Why read?

Reading can be enjoyable, informative and promote growth and learning. English essayist Joseph Addison said,

“Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.”

When you read, different parts of your brain are activated, and according to Neuroscience studies it promotes our ability to focus and grasp complex ideas. It helps connect the right and left hemispheres of the brain, while processing letters, words and visual concepts. In short, it makes us smarter. We use more parts of our brain, and can have a good time doing it!

Studies show that reading to young children helps with their early vocabulary and brain development too. So why stop reading once you get older?

Novels and stories can be a great way to use your imagination and promote empathy and understanding. Or you may find your way along an exciting adventure by reading a fascinating recount of someone’s travels.

Can you think of a particular place you’d like to know more about? Are you interested in a specific time period in history that draws your curiosity, or have an affinity with a type of animal or hobby that you’d like to know more about? Whatever you can imagine, there’s a book about it!

So how do you find reading material, and the time to actually read it?

Goals and Reading Lists

To start with, you might want to set some goals around your new reading habit. About two hours a day is a good start. Maybe you’re thinking, two hours?! I don’t have that much time to just sit and read a book every day! But it’s all in how you schedule it. You can’t just leave it to chance at the end of the day.

Break it down into blocks of time. For instance, 20 minutes in the morning could be a good way to start your day, reading a chapter or two from one book. It wakes your brain up, and gets you started thinking. If you normally get up in the morning and start checking your phone for texts, emails and social media posts, try replacing that time with reading a book. Instead of getting involved in all the drama and demands of the day from your phone, take that 20 minutes for yourself. Immerse yourself in a book that activates your imagination and helps start your day with a different focus.

Replacing one old habit with a new reading habit doesn’t take any extra time. It’s just switching it out with something better! Comedian Groucho Marx once stated,

“I must say I find television very educational. The minute somebody turns it on, I go to the library and read a good book.”

If you normally watch a few hours of TV daily, you might consider using some of that time to do a little reading instead!

Setting specific times for reading can help you stay on track. Some people like to take a break at noon and catch up on informational reading concerning health, financial news or sports. If these things interest you, reading about them can be an enjoyable break in your day. Evening is another good time to read. It can be a good way to unwind and detach from the day’s activities before sleep. Whatever works best for you can be scheduled into your day. Plan ahead and take time to read.

Time goals aren’t the only thing to think about. Another goal could be a certain number of books per month. Start small and make progressive steps. Maybe read one book at first, and then add more when you master that.

Some people like to read several books at once. Have one book that you read in the morning, some informational things you read throughout the day and another book you like to read at night before going to bed. Keeping a book with you as much as possible can give you the opportunity to read when you are waiting for a bus, sitting in a lobby for an appointment, or have a break at work.

Make a list of books you want to read. Add to it as you hear of new suggestions, or think of another topic that interests you. When you purchase books online, you’ll find other similar books. One thing often leads to another. You might find an interest in something you never even knew existed! Or be able to continue reading a particular genre that you have enjoyed in the past!

Consistency and Motivation

Research has shown that it can take about 66 days to create a habit. This number may be more or less, but on the average, if you do something for a couple of months on a regular basis, it will become automatic for you. Stick with your goal of reading every day at specific times and eventually you’ll see that you’ve created a new habit. If you’re reading a novel with a riveting story line, you will probably be motivated to get to that next chapter and see what happens! But if you find you need a little more help getting started with your reading habit, you might try a couple of other methods.

Joining a book club is one way to get into the habit of reading regularly. Other people in the group share their thoughts about a particular book, and can suggest other selections once you finish. Some groups like to read aloud and discuss chapters as they go. Whichever style works best for you can help you to get excited about reading and keep you engaged.

Read things you really enjoy, and give yourself permission to switch to something else if you find you don’t like that book after all. Sometimes you might start reading and find that it’s not really what you had in mind. It’s true that a book really can’t be judged by its cover. Give it a hundred pages or so, and if you’re not into it by then it’s okay to find something else. Reading should be a good experience or you might not want to continue. So find things that hold your interest or excite you. There are more books in the world than any one person could ever read in their lifetime, so you have a huge selection to choose from.

You don’t have to spend a lot of money buying books either. You can purchase reading material online from websites like Amazon or Barnes and Noble. There are usually lower prices for used books. Or find something at your local library. Library cards are usually free if you live inside the city limits, but even if you live on the outskirts of town, the cost is generally affordable. Borrowing books from a library is a good way to try different types of books to see what you like. And the library staff are good at suggesting topics that might interest you. They can also let you know what’s new and what’s on the best seller’s list.

And don’t forget about your local bookstores! You may find something about the area you live in. There’s often a history section about the people who lived there in the past! What was life like back then? It can be fascinating to read about your local heroes!

With so many things to read about and available sources at your fingertips, there’s no time like the present to get started. There is no limit to where reading can take you, and the benefits you will receive.

Creator Walt Disney enticed us with this statement,

“There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate’s loot on Treasure Island.”

So what’s stopping you now from building a new reading habit?

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