How to Build a Positive Reading Habit

Over the years, I’ve encouraged many people to read more books. With my bookstagram, I’ve even brought people to pick up their reading habits again and that brings such a huge smile to my face. I love helping people rediscover books and how much fun it is to read.

But there are a few people who always tell me they never have the time, or they want to read more but they’re just so tired after work to do anything other than watch TV. I completely understand that as well. Working all day and then coming home to your family all you want to do is spend that quality time with them. Or without them. I’m not here to judge (lol).

If you are one of those people who would love to get into a reading habit, but struggle with responsibilities of life, then I hope this blog post helps you to create a new reading habit.

Read What You Want

I cannot express enough how important it is for you to read what you want. Don’t read what you think is important to read and don’t read what you don’t want to read. This is a golden rule for all the books you’ll ever read in your life. Let’s think of it this way. If there are 15-20 novels being put out by an editor every year and there are 20 editors at one imprint, that’s already 400 books being published in a year by one imprint. Now tack on all the publishing houses and their imprints and you’ve probably got over 1000 books being printed each year. With that many books being printed a year, why waste your time reading something someone said you should read?

Instead, consider picking up a few books from your library; things that you might not read normally, things you would absolutely love to read, things that struck you as interesting. Start with these books and don’t get sucked into the popularity of a book or the whole “intellectual” thing where people scoff you for not reading Ta-Neishi Coates.

Start Small

When trying to start a new reading habit, start small with both your time and your reads. I would strongly discourage anyone from jumping into War and Peace or a 1000-page fantasy novel right off the bat. Instead, start small. There’s this great YouTube video that explains that reading for at least 30 minutes a day will accomplish more reading in your life than if you tried to sneak it in every once in a while. Here’s the video cued up to the moment where the math is explained:

So when it comes to creating a healthy reading habit, start small. Read what might be a quick read everyday for 30 minutes a day and then move on from there.

You can also start a book club and read that one book. If you were read one book every month for an entire year, you would have read 12 books. Perhaps keeping a book club with some close friends will keep everyone accountable and give you a group of folks to talk about the book together. I think one of the most key factors to reading a book is the discussion after and I’ve had some amazing conversations with friends about some books.

Keep a Journal

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For all intents and purposes, I think the first two steps are probably the most valuable. Read what you want and do it in a small, digestible way, everyday to build the habit. However, if you want to go full reading mode you can also keep a journal of what you’re reading.

Journaling in general is said to improve everyone’s life. Writing in a journal helps process emotions and thoughts that might need a moment on the page to make sense. Why not keep a journal of your reading progress? The only thing I would keep in mind with your journal is not to be upset if you only got to read for five minutes one day and ten hours the next. Life demands different things from us everyday so if reading is impossible one day, don’t feel bad about it. Just pick up your book when you have the chance next time and move forward.

DNF Books

If you’re unaware what this phrase means, it means “did not finish.” It’s a common acronym people in the book world use when they didn’t finish a book. It’s also an extremely contentious activity because a lot of people will continue through a book they hate because they just can’t not finish a book.

I’m here to tell you to put down the book. If a book you’re reading isn’t fun or interesting to you, then don’t read it. Even if it’s a book you’re reading for a book club. Even if you begged the publisher to read the book for an early copy. I can’t express this enough; don’t read books you don’t like. It’s a waste of time to read something you don’t like. It’ll make you unhappy. And it’ll reverse the work you’ve put into creating a reading habit. Remember, there’s thousands of books that get published every year so why are you stuck reading the one book you hate?

Do As Much As You Can

The final piece of advice I’m going to give you is this; do as much as you can. There’s no competition to read all the books. There’s no one on your back telling you that you have to read. You can even be a bookstagram lurker who just goes on Instagram to look at all the pretty book pics. Just read as much as you can, do as much as you can, and forget what other people think. Because this reading habit is yours and despite the community and all the ways you can connect with someone over a book, the reading part is completely on you, so make your own terms and own your own reading habit.

What other advice would you give to a new reader?


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