Developing a reading habit is one of the best things you could do with your life. Books are the most powerful way of transforming yourself. No matter how much videos or movies you watch, they rarely leave a long-lasting impression on your mind. Because it is not just about receiving a message, it is more about tuning & training your brain in order to be mature and open-minded. I’ve been in love with books since my childhood, but I had the tendency of buying a book and not finishing it. Sometimes I would just see through it or leave it in the middle.
Some time back, I worked on overcoming this and develop a uniform reading habit. As per the science of developing habits, it takes 66 days to develop a habit. That means, if you can consistently work on it, it becomes a habit. We’ll talk about it step by step.
Photo by Anthony Tran
How to develop a reading habit
Step 1. Make a plan – Prepare your mind
Be clear about what you want to accomplish, how much you want to accomplish and the duration of your goal. For example, initially, I fixed a target of reading 30 books in a year which is doable. A typical book consists of 300-350 pages. That means if you can read 30 pages per day, which merely takes 45 minutes for a slow reader and 25 minutes for an average reader, you will be able to finish 3 books per month and around 36 books a year. Which is pretty awesome, right?
Point is not to hurry, do it slowly. Consistency is the key; make a plan of what you are going to do.
Step 2. Create a to-read list
The first step is to create a list of what you want to read. I recommend creating a list of 1/3rd of your target. If you plan to read 30 books in a year, make a list of 10 books. The reason is, once you get used to reading, depending on the taste you develop, you’ll change directions. You’ll find out more interesting books. You’ll follow authors and read their other books as well. So do not make a list of all the books at once, instead make a list of few and then gradually update it. You can use services like Goodreads to maintain your to-read list. Personally, I use Goodreads to manage my overall reading lists and I just keep a simple note on my phone for the to-read list of the challenge. Choose the books carefully, read reviews and synopsis. In the beginning, choose small or medium-sized books (200-400) pages. Do not try to read a 1000 page book in the beginning. Chances are, you are never going to finish that.
Step 3: Create a schedule
It is not mandatory, but creating a schedule can help a lot in developing a reading habit. Decide a place and time to read. Let your friends and family know about the goal you planned for yourself and how important that is for you. As you start building consistency, they will start respecting your schedule and won’t bug you in-between.
Step 4: Follow & revise
Start following the plan and try to finish your daily target. It is very possible that your plan might not work, you might read less than the target; but who’s the boss? You! Feel free to change the place and schedule if it doesn’t work. Additionally, you might start a book and find it boring. If you are reading regularly, there are less chances for you to find any book boring without any reason. If still do, think about putting it on-hold and come back to it later or just leave it. It is a good idea to write a review of every book you finish. Any 100 word review is good enough to gather your thoughts and discover your taste further.
Step 5: Track yourself
It is very important to know where you stand. Once you know if you are doing good or bad, you can switch directions to improve your reading habit. It also acts as a motivation. There are numerous habit tracking apps for Android, iPhone, and Windows. Install that suits you and track your progress. I use Loop Habit Tracker and Goal Tracker for Android. These are simple and serves the purpose. These two allow me to maintain a streak as well as tracking the counts. Along with this, I use Goodreads which lets you have a yearly challenge. One day, you’ll go back and see that you read consistently for 365 days. That day you might want to skip a day and have a beer 😉
Few additional tips for the journey
Tip #1: Read more than one book at a time
Many people suggest reading one book at a time. I think it is amazing to read multiple books at a time. For example, I read 2-3 books at a time. I pick one fiction, one non-fiction, and one biography. It depends on your taste.
The reason for multiple genres is that you can read as per your mood. Slowly you’ll figure out your taste. Obviously, you’ll finish one book before another and start a new one. That is perfectly fine.
Tip #2: Near the end of a book, start another
To avoid chances of any gap it is a good idea to start a new book when the current book is about to end (80% complete). Once you finish the current one, you’ll have next one in line already. This trick really helps in maintaining consistency.
Tip #3: Always keep a book with you
No matter where you go, keep a book with you, it feels really nice. Have a schedule but do not bind yourself to rules. Break them, knowingly. Read whenever and wherever you get a chance.
Tip #4: Share about it and get a reading partner
Share about what you are reading and what you are going to read. Not only it looks impressive, moreover, it helps you maintain the consistency. If you have a reading partner it becomes more joyful. Read different books, share with each other, exchange the books. Once we get a company of like-minded people, activities become more joyful.
Tip #5: Read synopsis of a book before choosing
Never judge a book by its cover. Read the synopsis of a book before adding it to your list or reading it. It is always a good idea of knowing what you are reading and what to expect. Another way is to read the reviews of other readers on google or on Goodreads. Have a look on our Book Reviews section, you might find some interesting recommendations.
Photo by Lacie Slezak
Book Ideas to get started
Here are few books to get started as a beginner.
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