How to Cultivate a Reading Habit (Yes, You Do Have Time to Read)

“I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other
room and read a book.” ~ Groucho Marx

Find your reading nook. Image from

I went shopping with my Mum and brother last week. We had run out of shops to visit, when I suggested a trip to the bookshop. “Why would I want a book?” asked my brother, who had once made habit of taking a torch to bed so he could re-read the Harry Potter series.

“Reading?” asked my Mum, who was so enthralled by Captain Corelli’s Mandolin after her divorce that she finished it in a day, “How could I possibly have time for reading?”

Cultivating a reading habit should not be limited by our perceptions of how much time we have, nor influenced by any other negative factor. We all deserve (and need) time for ourself, and settling down with a good book is one of the best ways to achieve this.

Reading also comes with the added benefits of expanding our knowledge, finding reassurance from characters in similar situations, and becoming aware of different cultures.

I currently ensure that I make time for reading every day, and choose books that positively affect my mental health. Because of literature, I’ve come to understand not only myself better, but also my past experiences. Reading is one of the best ways to find reassurance or to relate to another, particularly when a book is well chosen.

But how can you form a reading habit? Yes, we all have prior engagements to attend to, people to consider, and perhaps a demanding job, but we can still look for empty slots in our day – no matter how small – to fit in a good book.

How to cultivate a reading habit and find motivation

  1. Always carry a book with you. Choose one that you actually enjoy reading, and one that isn’t too hard to read small amounts of at a time. Remember to read while you’re waiting for appointments, public transport, or during any empty time slots. If the book you’re carrying isn’t one you look forward to reading, change it.
  2. Make a list of the books you’ve always wanted to read, or the books you’ve heard good things about. Carry it with you.
  3. Dedicate set times to reading. Perhaps before lunch, while the kettle is boiling, or in bed before you call it a day.
  4. Start a book blog. Share your literary meditations with others. This is time consuming, and for the people who really love books, but it adds another level to your reading. 
  5. Set goals. I’ve set myself a target of finishing one hundred books in 2013.
  6. Keep records. Try Goodreads, or perhaps a reading journal.
  7. Read compelling books. And don’t worry about “guilty pleasures”.
  8. Don’t be afraid to give up a book. If you don’t find yourself wanting to read beyond the first fifty pages, don’t force yourself.
  9. Make it a shared activity. Read at the same time as your partner, or read aloud to your kids.
  10. Think about how much TV you watch. An hour less of soap operas a day could let you finish a novel a week.
  11. Schedule bookshop or library visits. Make this a regular part of your week, and allow yourself to look forward to quietly browsing through recent paperbacks or rare editions. If you have a local library, reading can be great budget activity.
  12. If you find an author or genre you love, find more. Read series, prequels, and similar texts (perhaps look on Goodreads or ask a bookseller for recommendations)
  13. Make it a joyful experience. Settle down with a cup of tea and a biscuit, and class it as dedicated time to treat yourself.
  14. Find your reading nook. Make it comfy, quiet, and free from distractions (laptops and phones included).
  15. Learn to immerse yourself in a good book. After getting the important things done for the day, let yourself focus solely on a good book. Remember that minor chores can wait.
I believe you can always find time to read, even if only five minutes a day, and reap endless benefits from doing so.

Do you have any tips for finding time to read? What about for forming a reading habit?

Lucy
It's good to meet you! I started Tolstoy Therapy back in 2012 to share my healing journey through anxiety and PTSD with books. I also climb mountains, go on solo adventures, and write over at livewildly.co.