Readers are becoming a dying breed. Many books get movies and television series after them. Most people would rather just look at the screen instead of picking up a book. However, there are several advantages to reading books. The benefits are apparent, so more people are trying to read more. Unfortunately, picking up good habits can be more complicated than you think. Just remember that there are great books out there you haven’t heard of.
“Reading is a basic tool in the living of a good life.” – Mortimer J. Adler
How to Develop A Reading Habit
You might have read a lot years ago and lost the reading habit. Even just deciding to start reading books may be quite demotivating. Here are some ways to make it easier to get back to reading.
1. Take a Class
It’ll be easier to motivate yourself to start reading books when you are forced to. For that reason, it can be beneficial to take a literature class at your local college. You don’t have to be in high school to do this. Look at the different options to pick a class that will interest you most. You can find classes about modern literature, queer literature, African-American literature, war literature, post-modern literature, poetry, and even classes revolving around a graphic novel or something by Jane Austen. You will have reading assignments. You and your classmates will discuss the plot lines in class to help you appreciate each reading to the fullest potential. To ensure you truly understand the work, you will also have to write papers about the books you want to read.
2. Join a Book Club
Here’s great reading environment without having to pay for a class. Most clubs are free except for the cost of the books and maybe some snacks. Look for book clubs at work, book shop or at your local library. There are lots of them out there for any age ranging from young adult to seniors. If you can’t find a good one, you should take the initiative to start one yourself. When you go to the meeting, you will discuss a new book. When you bounce ideas off of each other, you will learn more about the book than if you simply read the book by yourself. It’s a great way to make sure you read the book every week.
3. Read With Your Children
It’s just as important, if not more so, for your children to develop a love of reading too. Take them on your journey with you by reading with them at night. You may think that an adult can’t get stimulation from children’s literature, but there are plenty of books you will enjoy, too. For younger children, start with Dr. Seuss and Shel Silverstein. As they get older, the doors open up and they’ll want to read more. You will still get the benefits of reading, and you’re encouraging a good habit in your child as well as spending quality time you’d wish you started years ago.
4. Ask Friends For Recommendations
One of the main reasons people don’t read as much as they should is because they don’t have books that they like. That’s because they don’t know any books. Don’t simply walk into a book store and pick the first book that grabs your attention. You should get book recommendations from people who know you. Talk to friends or family members you know who read and ask if they know of any books, even just one book you might also like. Keep a running list and start going through the list. As you go through the reading list, you will learn what books you enjoy. You will soon be able to develop your own lists based on the books you liked.
5. Start a Reading Diary
When you write things down, you take more responsibility for them. Therefore, it can be helpful to keep a log or diary of your reading habits. Every day you read, write how long you read and what you read. If you want to take it even further, you can also write any impressions you have about what you read. Alternatively, you can write down new words you learned while reading or what you plan to read next.
6. Make Time to Read
If you want to make reading a priority in your life, you need to make time for it. Many people don’t think they have time to read. However, if you set aside just an hour before bed every single day, you are making it a priority. Look for things during your day that you can set to the side for your new reading habit. If you don’t think you have time during the week, try setting time aside every weekend.
7. Read Comics and Magazines
You don’t always have to read classical literature to get the benefits of reading. Sometimes, you want to read something a little lighter. That’s fine! Reading is reading, so read what you want to read. Go ahead and read a sports or beauty magazine. You can also read a comic or young adult book. Other people might consider it trash, but you shouldn’t listen to that. Starting with magazines and comics or even anything you might like (like Harry Potter) can help take you to the next level in your reading goals.
8. Try Audiobooks
If you aren’t the type to sit down and read, you can still enjoy literature through your headphones or car speakers. Instead of listening to music, consider putting on an audiobook. There are audio books available for just about every book out there. The voices can even help clarify the story for you. Try Audible or Audiobooks.com if you’re interested.
9. Read During Your Commute/Break
Finding reading time can be difficult. You’ll read more when you find times to sneak it in. One of the best times to sneak in reading is during your commute to work. This is especially true if you take the train or the bus. You can use the time on your commute to read instead of playing a video game on your phone or scrolling through social media. You can also find some time for reading when you have a break at work. Bring your book to the office with you and read when you have downtime or when you have a lunch break.
10. Turn off the TV
There are many homes where the television seems to be turned on regularly. For people who live alone, it could be to help deafen the silence. For others, it can be the family watching television. Either way, if you want to read more, turn the tv off. The tv shows will only distract you. You’ll find yourself watching cartoons with your kids instead of reading. If you don’t necessarily want to take away the television from everyone, just go to another room where the TV won’t distract you. Just be sure you can hear the kids in case they need you.
11. Make it Comfortable
When you sit down to read, make it an enjoyable experience. Get one of your favorite and relaxing drinks. You should also find a comfortable chair or nook to read in. Light some candles to make the room smell pleasant. Get a cozy blanket to curl up with and start reading. When you are comfortable, you will have an easier time getting you to actually get some reading done. Don’t need to do any speed reading here. Reading should be a pleasurable reading experience, make reading comfortable and you’ll want to read more.
12. Reward Yourself
Use a reward-based system to help yourself reach your goals. When you accomplish one of your reading goals, such as finishing one book, you deserve a treat. You can treat yourself with something as simple as ice cream or a glass of wine. However, it’s crucial not to enjoy the reward until you’ve realized your goal.
13. Realize You Can Give Up
Some people feel the need to complete a book once they start it. However, that book might not be entertaining or engaging to you. If you force yourself to read it even though you’re miserable, it’s only going to ruin the experience of reading for you. If you don’t like a book, it’s okay to put it down and move to the next book. There is no law that you have to enjoy reading or even finish every book you start. Also, not finishing doesn’t mean it isn’t a good book. It just wasn’t the book for you. Next book!
14. Make realistic goals
You should establish reading goals to keep you on track. It’s a good idea to try to read every day or a certain amount of pages per week. You don’t always need to meet the goals. However, to help you reach your reading goals, you should make realistic goals. Do not push yourself to the point where you will feel like a failure or give up. You also don’t want to push yourself to the point where reading becomes a chore. An excellent way to gauge your goals is to read on your own for a week and use the results to create future goals. Do not feel the need to share your goals with everyone else. Keep your goals to yourself.
15. Work on retention
Some people have trouble retaining what they have just read. It seems to leave the brain the second they put the book down. Keep yourself into the book by taking notes while you read. They don’t have to be detailed notes necessarily or in a journal format- simple things to remember. You can also try to read out loud or mouth what you read to keep your mind into the reading process.
The benefits of reading are undeniable, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy for everyone. The more you read, the better you’ll get at it and the more you’ll enjoy it. Don’t worry if you’re slow at first. Simply pick up a book and get back to it. I can guarantee you wont regret it.