How to Cultivate a Reading Habit
“To acquire the habit of reading is to construct for yourself a refuge from almost all the miseries of life.” — W. Somerset Maugham
If reading is a habit you’d like to cultivate, there are a number of ways to do it.
- Set times. You should have a few set times every day when you’ll read for at least 5-10 minutes. These are times that you will read no matter what — triggers that happen each day. For example, make it a habit to read during breakfast and lunch (and even dinner if you eat alone). And if you also read every time you’re sitting in the car, and when you go to bed, you now have four times a day when you read for 10 minutes each — or 40 minutes a day. That’s a great start, and by itself would be an excellent daily reading habit.
- Always carry a book. Wherever you go, take a book with you. When you leave the house If there is a time when you have to wait (like at a doctor’s office or at the reception), whip out your book and read. Great way to pass the time.
- Make a list. Keep a list of all the great books you want to read. You can keep this in your journal, in a pocket notebook, on your personal home page, on your personal wiki, wherever. Be sure to add to it whenever you hear about a good book, online or in person. Keep a running list, and cross out the ones you read.
- Find a quiet place. Find a place in your home where you can sit in a comfortable chair (don’t lay down unless you’re going to sleep) and curl up with a good book without interruptions. There should be no television or computer near the chair to minimize distractions, and no music or noisy family members/roommates. If you don’t have a place like this, create one.
- Reduce television/Internet. If you really want to read more, try cutting back on TV or Internet consumption. This may be difficult for many people. Still, every minute you reduce Internet/TV, you could use for reading. This could create hours of book reading time.
- Keep a log. Similar to the reading list, this log should have not only the title and author of the books you read but the dates you start and finish them if possible. Even better, put a note next to each with your thoughts about the book. It is extremely satisfying to go back over the log after a couple of months to see all the great books you’ve read.
- Go to used bookshops. You can go to a discount book store where you can pay less for used books. You only spend only a couple of naira so that reading doesn’t become a major expense.
- Have a library day. Even cheaper than a used bookshop is visiting a library. You can make this a weekly trip.
- Read fun and compelling books. Find books that really grip and keep you going. Even if they aren’t literary masterpieces, they make you want to read — and that’s the goal here. After you have cultivated the reading habit, you can move on to more difficult stuff, but for now, go for the fun, gripping stuff.
- Make it pleasurable. Make your reading time your favourite time of day. Have some good tea or coffee while you read, or another kind of treat. Get into a comfortable chair with a good blanket. Read during sunrise or sunset, or at the beach.
- Blog it. One of the best ways to form a habit is to put it on your blog. If you don’t have one, create one. It’s free. Have your family go there and give you book suggestions and comment on the ones you’re reading. It keeps you accountable for your goals.
- Set a high goal. Tell yourself that you want to read 50 books this year (or some other number like that). Then set about trying to accomplish it. Just be sure you’re still enjoying the reading though — don’t make it a rushed chore.
- Have a reading hour or reading day. If you turn off the TV or the Internet in the evening, you could have a set hour (perhaps just after dinner) when you and maybe all the members of your family read each night. Or you could do a reading day when you (and again, your other family members if you can get them to join you) read for practically the whole day. It’s super fun.