A common misconception about reading is that you have to like it to be able to do it. That is not true. While some people may enjoy reading, it is not an indicator of if you will like it or not. It is worth at least trying for some time to see if you may enjoy it. Sometimes it is best to explore your options. If you’ve never liked reading before, here are some tips on how to start reading.
Best Ways to Cultivate a Lifetime Reading Habit If You’ve Never Liked Reading Before
1. Always have a book on hand.
You will always have an opportunity to read. You’ll read on your morning commute (well, iBook if you are driving). There is the time when waiting at the doctor’s office or wasting a couple of minutes before a meeting or conference call.
I find I can bear the line at the grocery store much better with a good book while the guy at checkout looks for his card. Instead of letting this time go unused, pick up a book and great start reading.
The only way you can take advantage of short minutes is if you have a book on hand. That’s why I always carry a chapter with me. And, thanks to gadgets like Kindle, this is even more convenient.
2. Set a dedicated reading time.
This helps make a reading habit. For me, I always set aside 20-30 minutes in the morning before everyone wakes up. This prevents distractions. The 20-30 minutes before I go to bed are my most favorite moments.
I read more throughout the day, but that’s not always guaranteed since some days are more hectic than others. Having dedicated reading times at least ensures that I’m reading around at least an hour every day.
3. Use technology to your advantage.
I love the physical book. Nothing beats the smell and texture of an actual book in your hands. And studies have found that reading print leads to better comprehension and retention compared to computer screens.
But, sometimes carrying a chapter around isn’t easy or convenient. Today you can read a book on your iPad or Kindle while traveling. You are even listening to an audiobook through Audible or iBook, whatever while working out.
In short, using technology gives you more opportunities to digest even more books throughout the year.
You may also be interested in Best Ways To Improve Reading Comprehension 2021
4. Read books that you enjoy.
This piggybacks on the previous point. But when you read books that you want to read, you’ll find it more challenging to put them down. For example, I’m a big Stephen King fan. Is reading the Dark Tower series going to make me a better entrepreneur or father? No. But, I fancy reading and become so immersed that I have to keep reading.
Wait a minute. Who can judge whether reading the Dark Tower series helps me or not? Maybe it does make me a better entrepreneur. Stay tuned for later comments about that.
Enjoy engaging and fun books such as Vonnegut’s William Gibson, Douglas Adams, or Trevanian. They are all great storytellers.
At the same time, I also mix-it-up it up not just Stevie-boy King for me. I will read biographies or books focused on leadership. Even though they may help me professionally, I still enjoy reading them.
5. Don’t make lofty reading goals.
If you’re not a voracious reader, don’t commit yourself to read more books than you can handle. In other words, don’t set lofty goals that you probably can’t achieve.
Start by setting an easily attainable reading goal, like reading just one book per month or 20 pages a day. If you’re already breezing through a title a month, then jump up to two. When you’re not over-committing, you’ll find that the reading experience is less stressful and more enjoyable. I’ve found an interesting thing. If your reading is not stressful, you will be able to concentrate and read fast.
6. Quit early.
I’m sure you’ve been halfway through a book and asked yourself, “Why am I reading this?” Don’t worry. It happens to the best of us. But instead of trying to power through a title that you’re not enjoying or finding useful, you should just put it down and start reading something else.
Gretchen Rubin, the author of the bestselling book The Happiness Project, has found that the “winners don’t quit” mentality isn’t an effective way of reading. Rubin explains that quitting early gives you “More time for reading good books! Less time reading books out of a sense of obligation.”
7. Stock up.
Instead of dropping $200 or $300 on clothes or junk, you don’t need to build up an inventory of books when you have some extra cash.
It may sound ridiculous at first, but it’s one of the best motivations to read more because once you finish a book, you can view your inventory and decide what to read next.
8. Create a distraction-free reading environment.
Some distractions you can’t avoid, like when your Amazon Prime delivery gets dropped off and your dog goes nuts. But there are plenty of other distractions that you do have control over.
Start by reading in the best place that is a quiet place and doesn’t have temptations like a TV. You could also turn your smart phone on silent or airplane mode for a certain amount of time.
9. Borrow reading time from something less important.
I got it. The thought of reading for two or three hours a day may seem like a serious time commitment, But if you borrow time from something else, you’ll realize that it’s pretty easy to devote more time to reading.
For example, do you know that the average American spends five hours every day watching TV? If you fall into that category, reduce your TV watching to two hours per day and spend the other three hours reading. Try reading first, then TV; the other way around doesn’t work quite as well.
10. Keep your eyes wide open.
I am always looking for great books to read. You can browse the best-selling lists online or ask the bookstore for suggestions. I often find the favorite books while reading suggestions from friends or blog posts.
To make sure I don’t forget about a book I find interesting, I either write it down in my notebook or on Evernote when I see it.
11. Participate in reading challenges.
Because it’s interactive and fun, this is the best way to encourage reading. Goodreads, for example, offers an annual challenge reading program that will help you reach your reading goals. By looking at what books your friend has read, you can find a new one to read.
This is more applicable to online content and newspapers, but it’s also useful for reading books for leisure reading. This helps you to get the book through faster, so you can move on.
13. You can read multiple books.
Although this strategy might not be for everyone, I do have several books in different places. My bedroom has one book; while I drive, there is another down the hall. Always have a book with me.
It’s challenging to keep my eyes open for new books, and it keeps me busy. Mixing up multiple books is a good way to keep your mind engaged. You might read a Stephen King novel or a biography about an entrepreneur, such as Elon Musk.
14. Start Small: Change your mindset.
Ryan Holiday, Media Strategist and author, says that the key to reading many books is not thinking about it as something you do. Reading must be as natural to you as eating and breathing. You don’t do it because you feel like doing it. It’s something you do automatically.
15. Read before you go to bed or while traveling.
Reading is best when you’re traveling. Consider all the free time you have to read while you are waiting for your flight or while you are in-air. It’s possible to read a whole book while you travel. Make sure you download the entire book before you go. You don’t need to worry about your device being turned off or paying for Wi-Fi.
Make it a reading habit before you sleep, even if you don’t plan to travel. This is a better choice than scrolling through your social media or watching TV. You’ll not only read more, but you will also be able to sleep better.
Relate: Why Does Reading Make Me Sleepy?
16. Eliminate decision fatigue.
Yes. Decision fatigue can be an actual thing that can hinder you from being productive or adopting habits such as reading.
Instead of searching aimlessly for a new book, search for a curated reading list. Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg are both entrepreneurs who have created curated lists. There are many curated lists. It could be the New York Times, Oprah, or Goodreads. A reading list can help you avoid decision fatigue and give you more time to read.
17. Settle down.
When your mind is preoccupied and racing a mile a minute, it’s challenging to sit down and enjoy a book. There are deadlines to meet, bills to pay, and dishes to clean. These nagging tasks are what I do before I read, so they don’t bother me. Exercise and meditation have helped me to relax.
18. Please share what you have read.
Don’t share your reading goals. Share the books you have read. Because I share the information and insights I have just read, it becomes part of the reading experience. The readers often recommend me new books. One person will tell me, “Well, if you are interested in that book, you should read this one next.”
19. Keep your next book in stock.
This article will provide some helpful tips for building an inventory of future books to avoid decision fatigue. You’ll probably still have dozens of books to choose from.
When I’m close to finishing a book, I take a few minutes to select the next book to read. I jump straight from one article to the next.
20. Join a wired book club.
A book club can be a great way to encourage you to read more. You will get great book recommendations and a group to share your thoughts. Book clubs have helped me find some of my enjoyable books. This forces me to think about books I wouldn’t have read in 100 years. These titles have become a favorite.
Google can help you find book clubs near you. It’s possible to create digital book clubs. You can check out Oprah’s Book Club 2.0 and Wired Book Club.
21. Books on Sale
You can find books on sale if you are on a tight budget or have limited time. This is how I used to shop at bookstores. I would go in to buy a book. I would leave with a stack that caught my eye interest because they were on sale.
You can now easily search for used books and other items on Amazon. This is a cost-effective and efficient way to start a small library.
Did you know you can also get books free of charge? You can also get books for free by participating in giveaways. You can check Goodreads, exchange books on Paperback Swap, and browse the public library of ebooks on Project Gutenberg.
22. Read in sprints.
Some days my attention isn’t at its best. When that happens, I set a timer to 20 minutes, and then I read in 20-minute sprints. A 20-minute reading time prevents my mind from wandering. It is also short enough that I don’t get burned out.
23. Hijack your Facebook habit.
Bad habits can be hard to change. You can take control of your bad habits and make them suitable, writes David Kadavy, Design for Hackers author. Habits start with a Trigger that leads to an action that leads to a reward. You build up your Investment over time. This cycle continues.
This will allow you to replace bad Facebook habits and make them a good reading practice. Kadavy suggests these:
- Reduce friction. This particular habit is a barrier to you reading books as you do Facebook. It feels like a huge commitment to open a book. If you have only a few minutes, you can talk yourself out of reading a book. You must give yourself permission for small chunks of book reading.
- Hijack your Trigger. Grab a book every time you feel the Facebook Trigger. Because a mobile device can be tempting, it is best to start with a physical book. Rearrange your icons to make Facebook hidden and Kindle prominently if you must use a mobile device.
- Your actions should be replaced. Read the book. Pick a page from the book to start reading. It would help eliminate all friction that might make you feel that a book is too expensive.
Daily Ritual is a good book, to begin with, because it contains many small sections. Dangerous Liaisons, if you prefer fiction.
24. Keep your goals to yourself
Once you’ve set a reading goal, make sure you don’t share it with anyone else. According to a 2009 study, students who had written down the activities they needed to become psychologists were less likely than those who didn’t. They were also only sharing their goals and activities with the experimenter. What are your shared goals?
These activities were more popular with the control group than those who didn’t share the same goals as the experimenter.
Why? The reason? If you want to read at least two books per month, keep this goal to yourself.
25. Take notes, speak aloud, or mutter along.
While this may be annoying to others, this pro tip can help people better understand the author’s message. Talking aloud helps you draw new conclusions and improves your concentration, focus, retention, and overall performance.
If you want to learn how to start reading, these are some tips to help you read better so use them as a starting point, but make sure you stick with it. We all have our ways of learning, so there is no way that anyone will just read the perfect book, but everyone can start by reading more books.
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