Photo of hands holding an open book by Alice Hampson on Unsplash

10 Simple Ways to Develop a Reading Habit

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Some of my earliest memories, revolve around books. This may sound a bit nerdy, but it is the truth. I have always loved to read. I am a big advocate for reading, especially when I was pursuing my Bachelor’s and found myself with little time to read for enjoyment. This blog was developed out of my love for books. Earlier I was thinking about how I got back into reading after graduating and wanted to share my tips with you. Whether you are or a student or not, no matter where you find yourself in life, these 10 simple ways to develop a reading habit are for you.

Photo of hands holding an open book by Alice Hampson on Unsplash. Article for 10 Simple Ways to Develop a Reading Habit by Cynthia In The Wild.
Photo by Alice Hampson on Unsplash

It might seem simple, but the easiest way to develop a habit is to do it consistently. But when trying to develop a new habit, it can be tricky and if there are aspects of it that you do not enjoy, it will be harder for you to stay consistent. So with that said, let’s dive right in.

1. Eliminate Distractions

This one may seem the most obvious. The best way to focus not only on what you’re reading, but your developing habit of reading, is to eliminate distractions. Such as your devices, like your cell phone, computer, tablet, television, etc. Put your phone in a drawer with your other electronics, in another room, if necessary. Settle in with your book and allow yourself to simply read. For fifteen minutes or fifteen minutes, eliminating distractions will allow you the space to read without being interrupted.

2. Swap Reading for Something Else

Let’s say every night, you settle into bed and watch tv for an hour or two before bed. You find this time your favorite part of your day as you unwind. Or perhaps you have thirty free minutes in the morning and you spend them scrolling before getting the rest of your day started. Moments like these in your day are absolutely perfect for fitting in some time for reading.

Perhaps in the evenings, spend thirty minutes reading before watching tv, and build up to swapping the habit completely. Instead of scrolling for thirty minutes in the morning, replace your scrolling with reading. You get the idea.

By making small swaps, you can unknowingly continue to develop a reading habit in no time.

3. Make Time for Reading

Along with getting rid of distractions and maybe even swapping another habit for reading, the most important by far may be to make time. This goes for anything in life, if you don’t make the time for it, it won’t happen.

It can help to set a reminder for when you have made time to read. If you find you have a half hour in the afternoons, setting a reminder can be helpful. Personally, I am very forgetful with everything I have going on these days. If it doesn’t get written down, I will probably forget it. If you’re like me, this is your reminder to go set a reminder!

4. Find a Good Spot to Read

There is nothing worse than climbing into bed, opening your book, and then falling asleep. Likewise, there is only annoyance in opening your book at your kitchen table, to discover that your chairs have poor back support.

Finding a comfy spot to read will do wonders in making you want to read more. My favorite spot to read is on my couch in my apartment’s living room or sitting cross-legged on a blanket at my local park near the water. There is a small lake, surrounded by trees and a walking path, and when the weather begins to warm up it becomes an absolutely magical spot to sit. Especially to sit and read.

5. Read Different Genres

Okay, so we have eliminated distractions, made time, and found a good spot. Now it’s time to test the waters. I always loved contemporary romance in my early twenties. However, as I enter my thirties, I am finding myself drawn to mystery, thriller, true crime, and Japanese fiction.

When you’re getting back into reading, you have the advantage of being able to try out all sorts of genres to discover what you truly enjoy. From fiction to nonfiction, poetry to short stories, there are endless opportunities to discover a genre/genres you look forward to reading.

6. Try Out Different Formats

Alongside trying out different genres, also consider trying different formats. Besides physical books, consider listening to audiobooks or reading eBooks. In between my weekly podcasts, listening to books during my commute has become a new norm.

Physical books are fantastic, especially if you decide to create a bookstagram. However, audiobooks can allow you to fit in reading while you do other activities. Digital books can also come in handy as you don’t need to worry about a bulky book taking up space in your bag. I don’t personally own a Kindle or other eBook reading device, but I am looking forward to investing in one this year. If you’re serious about getting back into reading, I encourage you to also invest in one.

Later this year, I’ll have an update on researching and purchasing a Kindle.

7. Create a To-Be-Read List

You might have heard that to-be-read lists (tbr lists) can sometimes get a bad rap. They can sometimes grow out of control and become more overwhelming than helpful. However, when you are just starting out, creating a list of books you want to read can come in incredibly handy.

Either on your phone’s notes app or a piece of paper, having a list of books you are interested in will provide with you a good supply of reading material. Consider adding details about the book as well. Such as genre, length, and type of format.

8. Don’t be Afraid to DNF

DNF stands for ‘Did Not Finish’. This is a fairly common term many readers use to describe a book that they just did not like and could not consider finishing.

I have DNF’d plenty of books. I used to feel guilty about this and sometimes even force myself to continue reading a book I really did not like. The truth though, is that it doesn’t matter. If you don’t like a book, don’t finish reading it. Life is too short to read books you don’t like.

Some people use the 50-page method before they DNF a book. This means reading at least the first 50 pages of your chosen book and then after decide if you want to continue the story.

9. Keep Track of Your Books

Alongside creating a to-be-read list of books you want to read, consider creating a list for after you read books. Such as a reading journal or an app to track the books you read. The GoodReads app has a feature where you can add books you want to read, as well as keep track of books you’re reading, and then rate/review books after you’ve finished them. GoodReads also has a fantastic community of people which can make developing a reading habit more fun and social.

*This post is not sponsored or endorsed by GoodReads. I just enjoy using the platform and recommend it for that reason. If you’d like recommendations for other sites, let me know in the comments.*

Some people also choose to annotate their books as they read. This is an even better way to keep track of your thoughts while you are reading. This can be easier to do with eBooks as you can leave digital notes in the margins. However, experiment and find a way that works best for you. You might not even want to review every book you read and that’s okay. On this blog, I love to discuss fiction. I read a handful of nonfiction books every year but never feel it’s quite necessary to discuss them as well.

10. Set a Reading Goal

This is the first year I have set a reading goal. Between school and at one point, juggling three jobs, just getting a chance to read was a luxury. For this year, my goal is 36 books. This feels like a good average for me, since broken down, it’s 3 books per month.

If you’re just jumping back into reading and hoping to develop reading as a habit, consider starting small with 12 books a year. You’ll have a better chance of succeeding in developing your habit if you start small. You’ll be less overwhelmed and will feel even more accomplished/productive if you end up reaching and/or passing your set goal.

Final Thoughts

Deciding to develop a reading habit is an honorable goal. Reading can improve your life in many ways. Especially when you discover books that quickly become your favorites. No matter how you engage with books, I hope you enjoy the new journey you are embarking on.

So remember, start small, make time, and don’t be afraid to DNF books that just aren’t your vibe!

Looking for ways to read more but have a busy schedule? Check out my tips for reading more on a busy schedule.

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