I was someone that did not like to read but now have the habit of reading every day. In this article, I will share 11 actionable ideas that as I reflected, found helped me progressively get into the habit of reading.
Whether you’re totally not a reader or trying to get back into reading, I believe this article would have at least an idea that can put you on track to becoming the reader that you want to be.
The ideas I will be putting forth are in sequential order, with the 1st idea being an idea that worked when I would’ve identified as a non-reader, and with the last idea being an idea that helps me today to get back into reading when I do not feel as motivated. Let’s get into it.
1. Pick Up ANY Book That’s Interesting & Read
Remember the times when our teachers would drone on during class about spending our time well during our holidays such as by reading? I do.
But because I had not experienced the benefits of reading myself, I couldn’t understand why they keep saying reading is good for us.
Thankfully, despite not having an experiential understanding of why reading is good, the message of “reading is good” stuck with me. I picked up any book that seemed interesting to me and started reading (One of the first books I read happened to be The Hunger Game series).
The teachers kept saying that reading will help improve my English so that was my starting motivation – simple and not very strong.
The lesson I learned getting my habit of reading started is that my motivation didn’t need to be profound.
Your motivation for reading doesn’t need to be profound as well. It can start with simple reasons like “reading is good” and “reading can improve my English”.
Even when you don’t feel like reading, just remember your reasons for reading, however simple it is and force yourself to do it.
You may not succeed at getting yourself to read every time, but you will succeed sometimes. Every time you succeed, you make it that much easier for you to read the next time as the benefits of reading slowly but surely show up in your life.
2. Find Compelling Reasons For You To Read
The sporadic reading sessions that I engaged in evolved into a fervent desire to read when I collected compelling reasons for me to read.
These compelling reasons started as small snippets that I heard/read from various authors that became a catalyst to me understanding deeply why I must read. When I first read the below quotes, every one of them gave me a strong feeling of resolve to keep reading. Let me share them with you:
Success is determined by what you do daily.John C. Maxwell
You cannot give what you do not have.John C. Maxwell
When opportunity comes, it is too late to prepare.John Wooden
The best investment you will ever make is in yourself.Warren Buffet
A goal focus leads to an end destination whereas a growth focus leads to a continuous journey of learning and development.John C. Maxwell
I took these snippets I heard from various authors and reinterpreted them into reasons that would keep me reading.
My compelling reasons for reading may not be compelling to you but you can take mine as a starting point:
- The only time I can change my life is today. What I do today determines whether I will be successful tomorrow. Therefore, I must make good use of my time today by reading.
- I want the people and community around me to receive the best from me. For me to do that, I first need to have something that if they received at the right time, can help them, that something can come in the form of knowledge. To prepare myself to give to others, I must first receive by collecting valuable knowledge that then can be passed down to others. This can be done by reading consistently.
- If I keep reading and taking action on what I learned, I will keep growing and eventually, I can grow past any goals that I set.
3. Read 1 Paragraph A Day
Once I became convinced that I needed to read regularly, I set out to read at least 1 book per month. I would target books in general areas like leadership or communication where I wanted to develop and I would buy the books off of Amazon. Sometimes, I would walk through the bookstore or library and just get any book whose title interest me.
At first the goal of reading 1 book per month worked out for me but as life became increasingly hectic, I realised that I couldn’t keep up. That was when I altered my goal of reading 1 book a month to reading every day.
On days where I was especially busy, I make sure that I at least read 1 paragraph of a book. In the first 2 years of making this habit part of my identity, I can say with certainty that I did not miss a single day.
As a result of reading every day, at least 1 paragraph of a book a day, reading has become something that is so 2nd nature to me that I will feel uncomfortable if I missed out on a day of reading – the lesson here is that reading consistently in small chunks is more valuable over time than unsustainably reading 1 whole book a day and then burning out.
4. Only Read Good Books
My days of reading any book that I could find ended when I realise that that I couldn’t finish some books that I bought. Not for lack of discipline, but for lack of quality in the books that I picked up.
Every time I read a book that wasn’t good, I wasted time, money and momentum in reading.
I solved this problem by looking closely at reviews of the books I intend to pick up on Amazon or Goodreads. As a general rule of thumb, I only buy books that have a rating of 4.4 stars and above on Amazon.
More than just looking at the rating of a book, I also read a few of the most positive reviews and negative reviews to determine if the book is right for me. From here, it is a matter of intuition whether or not I pick up the book.
This simple way of doing a quick quality check before I pick up any books has helped to drastically reduce the times where I had to go through bad books and is a good strategy to adopt to increase enjoyment in reading.
5. Determine How You Will Use Your Book
Now, I was starting to read consistently. But at times, reading felt like a chore. It felt like I was reading for the sake of reading.
Through some reflection, I realised that it wasn’t just about reading a good book. I also had to determine how I will use each of the books that I read. The more specific the purpose of my books, the better.
Take for example – I was a volunteer in a youth organisation for a few years and I needed to become a better leader to the people that I led, thus, I picked up the book “Leadership Gold” to grow in my leadership capabilities.
I found that defining a purpose for the books that I pick up has helped ensure that maximum value is extracted from each book. It has also helped ensure that I do not wander aimlessly when reading the book.
6. Track The Reading Habit
To further cement my reading habit, I tracked my reading habits on a small notebook and found that bringing attention to the success/failure of my reading habit each day gave me an extra push to remain consistent.
If getting into reading is your goal, you may want to track your reading habit too. Not with a notebook, but with a free app – check out this article where I tested out 9 different habit tracking apps to determine which is the best free app.
7. Always Carry Book(s) You Want To Read With You
As reading started to become second nature to me. There were times when I felt the urge to read but didn’t have any books with me, so, I started to bring pack a book in my bag whenever I went out.
Nowadays with e-readers like Kindle and Kobo, it is easy to carry books that I want to read with me without any additional weight.
Carrying physical/e-books that I want to read with me has helped me to maximise downtime and helps me to strengthen my habit of reading daily especially when I hardly have free time.
8. Make An Appointment With Yourself To Read
Making an appointment with yourself to read is about setting aside intentional time to read daily – this must work hand in hand with point 7.
One way I’ve put this idea into action was when I made it a point to read for 15 minutes as part of my morning routine within the first hour when I woke up.
While I’ve since stopped reading in the morning the moment I wake up as this approach haven’t worked too well for me, I think this approach will work for people that hardly have down time once they begin their day.
The approach that I’ve found worked better is designating any commute time or time alone before I end my day as reading time.
With both methods of intentional reading, I found that it has helped put in place a system where I can get into reading without much thinking because the decision has already been made.
9. Stop Reading What Doesn’t Give You Value
Even after the necessary quality check process for my books as outlined in point 4, more than once, I found halfway reading through that the book did not give me the value I was looking for.
In the past, I would’ve slogged through it and finish reading the book no matter what. That was until I figured that my time is too precious for that.
Nowadays, when I pick up a book and determined how I am going to use that book, if that book doesn’t give me what I’m looking for after reading 1-2 chapters, I skip to the chapters where I think the value can be found.
If that doesn’t work, I drop the book and either ask for a refund for Kindle books or give/throw the physical books away.
10. Setup/Get Into A Reading Environment
It goes without saying, being in an environment that is conducive for reading helps with getting one into the habit of reading – it sounds tedious, but can be simple to do.
Over the years, I’ve repeatedly reused 4 specific ways to help me set up a conducive reading environment.
- Putting on a pair of headphones to listen to instrumental music when it is noisy;
- Turning off all gadgets in my room to read;
- Packing my room so that I’m not distracted by the mess;
- Physically moving to somewhere quieter to read.
11. Reread A Book You’ve Enjoyed
As I kept reading I found that some books are just so good that there is immense value to be gleaned even after the 2nd or 3rd time reading it.
So when I’m not sure what book to read next, I go back to reading those books that I’ve read that are in the “changed my life” category and relevant to what I’m going through in life now.
This helps me keep the good habit of reading while I go on the hunt for a worthy new book to read.