Busy schedules and stress can catch up to anyone, even if you were an avid reader at one point. Reading for pleasure can help reduce burnout and stress, among other benefits. The question is how to fit it into your life. These tips will help you build (or rebuild) a reading habit to get you excited about opening up a new book.
Take a book with you wherever you go
One of the biggest influences on how often you’ll read is how many opportunities you give yourself to do so. If you’re caught somewhere with unexpected time on your hands and have your phone on you, you’ll likely reach for it automatically. But if you keep a book in your bag, you’ll be more tempted to entertain yourself with that instead. You’ll be surprised by how many little pockets of time you have to read a few pages here and there.
Banish “guilty pleasure” from your vocab
Books are an incredible source of education and make for thought-provoking conversations. They can also be pure, simple fun. It’s equally valid to read for intellectual enrichment or light, easy entertainment.
So take “guilty pleasure” out of your vocabulary because there’s no reason to feel guilty. If you love steamy erotica or want to reread your favorites from childhood, do so proudly.
Set books facing out
Libraries and bookstores will occasionally display books with the cover facing forward rather than only showing the spine. This eye-catching presentation sets the book apart, making it easy to read the title instantly (without doing the book-browser head tilt). You might also get curious if the book is featured in some way, whether it’s a bestseller or a recommended pick.
Place one or two books you’re interested in reading next to face outward on a shelf you pass daily. Seeing the covers can remind you that you’re excited to get started on this new read, and you’ll be more motivated to open it up.
Listen to audiobooks
Sometimes it’s challenging to make time for a physical book. Your eyes might be tired from hours in front of a computer screen, or it may be challenging to focus on hundreds of pages of text. Audiobooks are a great way to read more while giving your eyes a break. They’re also perfect for when you’re driving or walking.
Keep a To-Be-Read (TBR) list
You finished a great book. Now what? Your new reading habit can stall if you have to start from scratch every time you reach “The End.”
Enter the reader’s best tool: the TBR. Anytime you hear a great recommendation, instead of just saying, “I’ll add it to my list,” actually write it down to spark your excitement for your next read.
One important tip: TBRs can be a best frenemy situation. Your list may be full of great suggestions, but it can get guilt-inducing when (inevitably) the list stretches to an overwhelming length. Here are a few tips for a manageable TBR:
- Keep different lists for different genres, so you know what to reach for when you want a light rom-com, a heart-wrenching family saga, or a thought-provoking read.
- Don’t be afraid to delete. If a title on the TBR doesn’t sound interesting anymore, get rid of it and focus on the books that make you eager to indulge.
- Don’t restrict yourself to your TBR. If a different book catches your eye, go for it, and don’t feel like you have to first finish the books on your list.
Find great recommendations
Major publishers may release more than 15,000 print books every year. How do you begin to find your next favorite book in that kind of pile?
Finding a source you trust for book recommendations can make a big impact on your reading momentum. Try these ideas to find your go-to book source:
- Check out recommendation lists on literary websites like LitHub.
- Celebrity book clubs, like Reese Witherspoon or Oprah’s picks, can point you to interesting books that you know people will be discussing.
- Searching Pinterest for books in your favorite genre can turn up roundup lists or good blogs to follow.
- The #BookTok community on TikTok is a popular place to find out which books are buzzing — particularly in romance, young adult, and fantasy.
- Real-life booksellers and librarians are often fantastic at recommending books just for you if you tell them what you’ve previously loved. Don’t feel like striking up a conversation? Read the “staff recommended” cards in a bookstore.
Make reading time a habit
Finding great books is integral to becoming a more prolific reader, but actually reading them is also essential. Make reading a habit in your day:
- Pick up a novel at a similar time every day: before bed, on your lunch break, or on your commute (audiobook only for driving commutes!).
- Try temptation bundling: Saving a juicy audiobook for the gym made people more likely to stick to a workout. Depending on how you feel about reading, you could bundle your book with a rewarding activity or a “should-do” you’d like to liven up. Pair reading with a relaxing walk outside, a hot bath, or a chore like folding laundry. Two birds, one stone.
- Read before you watch TV: Were you really watching Netflix or just scrolling on your phone with a show in the background? Swapping one episode for a few chapters of a book can be a more mindful way to relax. You might see brain benefits from reading time, too.
Read for a few more minutes
You don’t need to go from a slow reader to a bookworm who devours 150 books yearly. Tiny bits of progress add up. Instead of promising to read for two hours every night, commit to finding just five extra minutes in your day.
Even if your day is packed, you can still find five minutes. Read when you’re waiting in line, while your coffee brews, or listen to an audiobook while doing your hair and makeup. If you can read five pages in five minutes, that’s an extra 35 pages per week or 1,820 pages per year.