Learn how to develop a reading habit quickly and easily to enjoy all the life-changing benefits of reading, from learning new things to improving your communication, reducing stress, helping you sleep better, increasing your empathy, helping you solve problems, expanding your worldview, helping you focus better, and even entertaining yourself.

(While these tips on how to make a reading habit are based on my experiences as an avid adult reader of 100+ books per year, as well as the daily reading habit I have noticed in other avid adult readers, they may also apply to students and children.)

To me, a habit is kind of like a knee-jerk reaction — it’s just something you do. It may be the kind of thing you crave (like your morning coffee), or even the kind of thing don’t even realize you are doing it comes so naturally to you (like locking a door when you exit).

A habit can also be who you are — a runner, a musician, a magician, or yes, a reader.

(I mentioned a “magician” because I know someone who was so intermingled with the habit of magic that he carried a deck of cards everywhere with him and was constantly shuffling them in his hands, even when he wasn’t performing.)

When I think about new readers who are curious about how to start a reading habit, I imagine that you already know WHY you want to read (perhaps to learn something new or relax), but that you just don’t quite know exactly HOW to start reading in a way that you don’t hastily give it up, and it becomes as natural to your being as magic is to my magician friend.

(Though, you certainly don’t need to be shuffling book pages at all times in order to have a healthy, happy reading habit.)

So, that will be the focus of my book reading tips and tricks below on how to cultivate a reading habit in your daily life. As mentioned, these teachings are primarily based on my experiences as an avid adult reader of 100+ books per year, as well as the daily reading habits I have noticed in others who have succeeded in developing a reading habit.

I’m also going to inject some of the principles of the renowned “habits” guru, James Clear, who is the author of the massively bestselling book, Atomic Habits. Clear describes “atomic habits” as “a regular practice or routine that is not only small and easy to do, but also the source of incredible power.” Clear’s advice isn’t to overwhelm yourself, but rather it’s based on the belief that “[g]etting 1 percent better every day counts for a lot in the long-run.”

This should come as a relief to aspiring readers who think they need large chunks of time to read or to breeze their way through the most difficult classics in order to develop their reading habits. Hint: YOU DON’T!

Clear also believes in setting up systems to make it obvious, attractive, easy, and satisfying to do your desired habit. So, below I share how to get into reading based on my experience and with these exact principles in mind. Then, I answer a few frequently asked questions about how to develop a reading habit.

How To Develop a Reading Habit

how to develop a reading habit

Schedule your reading habit.

This helps you make reading obvious.

Atomic Habits author, James Clear, and I both agree that scheduling your new habit helps you perform it. So, think about the time and place that work best for your life and your schedule, and ACT.

My reading schedule during the week is that, when we finish television time on the couch and my husband goes up to bed, I turn off the television and pick up my book (which I leave on the couch) to read.

My reading schedule during the weekend is that I make my morning coffee and take it upstairs to my reading room to read.

Both schedules have specific times and places, and they are performed in a specific order along with other habits. This may sound like a bit much, but it works. I encourage you to think in this much detail about your own reading schedule.

You may even want to think about things like whether you are a morning person or a night owl, or when and where you find yourself bored (like the car line at your kids’ school).

And, to reiterate, it can also help to keep your current book in the place you schedule for reading.


Keep a “to be read” list.

This helps you make reading obvious.

If you don’t have a reading list, it can become easier to slip into periods of not reading simply because you don’t know what to read. A list makes it clear exactly what you will read next.

Avid readers are also known for keeping a list of what to read next.

So, the next time you hear about a good book, write it down so you don’t forget about it! I like to track my reading list on Goodreads (digital format) and with my Reading Journal (physical format).  I especially love to pencil in new books and their release dates, so I can get them on their publication date.

Still need help getting started? You can batch your research in advance based on anything from your favorite genre or author to books to fit various moods or book recommendations from sources you trust, like perhaps a celebrity book club!


Set reasonable goals.

This helps you make reading easy.

Remember how James Clear described “atomic habits” — as something that is “small and easy to do.”

One of the biggest misconceptions I see aspiring readers have is the idea that they need to have large chunks of time to read, which can feel incredibly overwhelming in our busy lives.

But, it’s simply untrue. If you really want to know the secret to how to make a habit of reading it’s knowing that any progress is… progress!

Personally, while I’m good at scheduling time to read, I can get overwhelmed by large books because I know they may be hard and/or take a really long time to read. When I feel this way about a book, I commit to reading a small number of pages or minutes per day — usually just ten — and I calculate my reading progress over time.

With this method, instead of staring at Anna Karenina on my bookshelf, I’m currently 600 pages into this 800+ page classic!

When setting your reading goals, you can think about all kinds of reasonable accomplishments to achieve, from a number of books read to a commitment to a reading challenge or even reading a certain type of book.

Just remember to keep it aspirational, yet not too far outside the realm of possibility. For example, if you read one book per year, a goal of reading 50-100 this year may be a stretch.

And adjust along the way if need be!


Remove reading roadblocks.

This helps you make reading easy.

If you want to learn how to develop a reading habit, you definitely need to figure out what’s keeping you from doing so. It may be a limiting belief, like the thought that you don’t have time or you aren’t smart enough, or it may be a distraction, like the television, your cell phone, or even the daily needs of your family.

It’s important to be mindful of what’s holding you up and find ways to work around it.

For me, it’s knowing that I will always read more if I physically move my cell phone away from my reach. For you, it may be scheduling your reading at a time when your kids aren’t present, finding a format that works best for you (i.e., print, digital, or audio), or even reframing your mindset.


Read books you like.

This helps you make reading attractive.

Reading should be FUN. Sometimes, it gets a bad reputation for being boring and/or hard. On top of that, readers can experience all kinds of challenging thoughts, like the idea that they “should” read a certain book or that they “shouldn’t” quit a book they don’t like.

Unless you are required to read something, you don’t have to read it or keep reading it!

It’s also important to work on letting go of any preconceived notions about what other people may think when it comes to your reading life.

To make reading fun, set yourself up for personal success. Be thoughtful about what books you choose to read and at what periods in your life you choose to read them. Again, you can batch your research in advance based on anything from your favorite genre or author to books to fit various moods or book recommendations from sources you trust.

I also like to recommend reading multiple books at once. This may sound overwhelming, but I do have reasons for recommending it! One important one is that it gives you a better opportunity to choose what book suits your current mood, which can change by the day or even by the hour. This tip alone has helped me read many more books, since I would have otherwise chosen not to read at all.


Reward yourself for reading.

This helps you make reading attractive.

Anyone who has a child or pet knows that rewards for good behavior WORK.

A little treat you can give yourself for working on your reading habits may include watching television afterward, indulging in a small sweet treat, playing a game, or even buying yourself something special when you hit a goal.

Over time, you may even find yourself craving the reward while you’re reading.


Track your reading progress.

This helps you make reading satisfying.

As a very logical person, I’m a big believer in the power of lists and trackers. They can help you see the facts as they are, and they can also offer you a sense of gratification for what you’ve accomplished.

For example, if you use a reading calculator or reading tracker, it’s much harder to “fudge” in your mind what you did or didn’t read in a particular timeframe. You may think you read during most days last month, but if the tracker only shows five days read out of thirty, then it’s clear you didn’t.

But, at the same time, a reading tracker isn’t meant to punish you. It’s more about transparency, as well as how GOOD it can feel to see your progress visually and/or reach a specific goal.

I don’t know about you, but one of my favorite things to do is cross something off of a list.

Again, I like to track my reading list on Goodreads (digital format) and with my Reading Journal (physical format). To start off with, I would recommend tracking the number of books you read and/or the number of days you read. Personally, I’m more planned out at this point, and I like to track what specific books I read from my detailed monthly book lists.


Engage with other readers.

This helps you make reading satisfying.

Lastly, in order to develop a permanent reading habit, you should engage with other readers. There is so much motivation and camaraderie to be found in community.

Whether it’s your book club, social media, or another group of readers, share and be inspired. I have no doubt in my mind reading will become more fun and enjoyable for you.

Goodreads is a great place to connect with bookish people. You can also start by following me on Instagram @jules.literarylifestyle (and my book club @therorygilmorebookclub — a highly engaged community of bookish Gilmore Girls fans. Or, you can follow #Bookstagram on Instagram and #BookTok on TikTok.

This is an especially great place to get ideas for what to read next, as you will get SO many book and bookish lifestyle recommendations.


Frequently Asked Questions About How to Develop a Reading Habit

How long does it take to develop reading habits?

You should expect it to take at least two months, on average, to develop reading habits. Based on a study published in the European Journal of Social Psychology and cited by Atomic Habits author James Clear, it takes a range of 18 days to 254 day, and an average of 66 days, “to go from starting a new behavior to automatically doing it.”

Why is it hard to develop reading habits?

It can be hard to develop reading habits for a variety of reasons, the most common among them being lack of time and/or the ability to decide what to read next from the countless number of options available.

How do I start reading every day?

The easiest way to start reading every day is by committing to do so even in very small increments, and scheduling an exact time and place to do read, so that you begin to build a routine of reading that is not too difficult to achieve.


Conclusion

Now you know how to develop a reading habit that lasts, so you can enjoy all the life-changing benefits of reading. Remember to make it obvious, attractive, easy, and satisfying to read, and that small, incremental progress adds up over time.

If you take only one specific tip from this article, I hope it’s the value of scheduling reading to occur at a specific time and place each day. We thrive so much on routines that I think this, above all else, will help reading become habitual for you.

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3 Comments

  1. The determination to get on, fixing the schedule of the time to engage,I believe reading will be joy for me. Thanks.

  2. I’m bz also but I try to read every night before the reason is I want to learn more and develop a habit to reads books and I like