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16 Helpful Tips on How to Improve Your Reading Habits

Updated: Feb 25, 2021


I read 46 books in 2019

34 in 2018

13 in 2017

How did I go from reading 13 books to 46?

I remember loving to read as a young girl. Sitting high on my bunk bed ladder, sitting close to the window to soak in as much of the day's fading light as I could. Library time was my favorite subject, and I anticipated with giddiness the scholastic book orders and yearly book fairs. American Girl, Babysitter's Club, and Choose Your Own Adventures were the worlds I escaped to. And did I mention book reports were my jam?!

But something happened as I got older. My love for reading was something I lost in my late teens and early twenties.

I visited the made-up worlds in books less and spent more time in the real one. I became more interested in social plans with friends, participating in after school activities, and navigating the chaos of growing up. There came less time for personal reading. Especially with all the assigned reading high school and college required. By the time I graduated school I wanted nothing with books.

Maybe other people can relate.

Fast forward to my first Christmas married and my husband gifted me a kindle. And slowly forgotten worlds were found again. Over time, I started to reach more and more for books, catching up on all the stories I left behind. Clockwork Angel, Harry Potter, Twilight, etc..

I began to develop habits that allowed me to go from reading 13 books in a year to 46, making it one of my favorite hobbies today.

So how do you actually read more? How do you rediscover a lost hobby and find more time?

Read on for all my best tips, in no particular order, to making 2020 the year you read more.

1. Know Your Why

If you say you want to read more, you need to determine WHY. Are you trying to develop a new habit? Do you need to make more time for fun and your hobbies? Is there a skill or topic you want to learn about? Do you want to have less screen time? Whatever your reasons are you need to know your why.

I love to read, but I also love to watch TV. I love to work. I love to sleep. I love to keep a clean home. Even something you love needs to be prioritized and will be hard to do sometimes. It will be something you have to choose. So you need to know your why to help push you to that choice.

2. Make It a Daily Habit

I read every day. I read in the morning and I read before bed. Reading is part of my daily routine. My morning read helps ground me in the day and my evening read helps wind me down. Even if it's a few pages, I make sure to read.

3. It’s Okay to Quit

If a book doesn’t spark your attention within a few chapters, you're probably not going to reach for it often. A good book is hard to put down, hard to stay away from for too long. I love anticipating my reading time, to pick up where I left off. If you’re not excited about what you’re reading, then you’re not going to read it. Which means you’re not reading more, you’re reading less.

So if you’re bored. Quit. Make room for the books that move you to your goal of reading more, instead of delaying you.

4. There Are No Rules

You know that rule about how you can’t read that other book you’re really excited about until you finish the one you started 3 months ago? Yeah, it doesn’t exist. Stop making reading complicated. There’s a reason you didn’t finish that book yet. So move on and read other books that you are captivated by and excited to read. Remember, your why. You’re trying to read more books.

So stop following silly rules.

5. Make It Part of Rest

I live my best life when I rest well. So I practice a weekly day of rest and on those times off, you guess it, I read. Stepping away from work does more than giving me space to read more. For me, reading re-energizes my tank, pauses my mind, and brings me the rest I need to get back to work again.

6. Listen to Audiobooks

I often recommend this to people who want to read more but feel they don't have the time to give. And the typical response is 'that doesn't work for me'. I get it, it’s a different muscle to listen. But my tip is to try again. You may just need to find the right genre that works for you.

I love to listen to audiobooks when I'm cleaning, going for a walk, doing dishes, or in the car but I can't read every book audibly. It needs to be one that keeps my attention, but not have too many details that lose me and leave me confused. Otherwise, I check out.

For me, I like to listen to memoir/autobiographical books. Bonus if the author is the one reading it. Or I like to listen to a book on a topic/issue I'm really interested in.

You might need to test out a few different styles but listening to audiobooks on work commutes or long drives is a simple way to solve the problem of time. You're already driving or commuting, why not use the time to accomplish a goal.

PRO TIP: Sometimes the voices read too slow for me and I get antsy. Get through the book faster by turning up the speed.

7. Always Have a Book Near

I take my kindle almost everywhere. It’s amazing how those little minutes of waiting for a friend to arrive for lunch or in the dentist lobby can add up. Books I’m currently reading are always close by. On my coffee table or beside my bed. Cause I know the easier I make reaching for it be, the higher my chances are to follow through.

8. Create a Goodreads Account

I’m such a fan of goodreads. I love participating in their yearly reading challenge to help keep me accountable to my reading goal. I’m constantly adding to my ‘bookshelves’ books I want to read, or absolutely loved and highly recommend. My favorite thing is the books recommended for me based on books I read or rated high. I have discovered amazing books and authors based on these suggestions.

9. Borrow Your Books

A big reason I think people read little is it can turn into an expensive hobby when all those new book purchases add up. I do not have a large book budget, I only bought 5 books brand new in 2019. So I borrow just about everything. From the library, Prime Reading, and friends. I did buy a few books second hand, which is another great way to read on a budget.

10. Promote a Distraction-Free Environment

I’m an easily distracted person. When I read the electronics are off, and I find a quiet space. I’m all about the cozy. I steep some tea, diffuse calming oils, wear my comfy clothes, and pile on the blankets.

11. Read Multiple Books

This may not work for everyone, but since I love to read a variety of genres (historical fiction, personal development, memoirs, young adult fiction etc.) sometimes I don’t feel like a certain book. Reading a few at a time helps me read what I feel like.

12. Be Decisive

Don’t overthink what book to read. Don’t exhaust yourself with decision fatigue. Just pick a book you find interesting, and just start. Remember, if it’s not working out, you can quit it. Don’t let indecisiveness hold you back from your goal of reading more.

13. Mediate Before

My mind is like a computer with WAY too many tabs open. Sometimes I have to still my mind so that I can give reading my full attention. I have found meditating before by taking a few deep breaths helps. I read faster, engage more with the story, and don’t zone in and out with distractions from my mind.

14. Share What Your Reading

I love to talk about books I’m enjoying. For some books, this helps enforce what I’m learning. For others, it opens up the conversation to debate or rave and broaden perspectives. I love it when I share a book I’m reading and then someone says, “Oh, you might like _____!” It’s a great way to discover more books.

Joining a book club can be another fun way to talk through a book. There are book clubs online or in your community you could join, or you could create one with friends.

15. Value the Minutes​

When was the last time you looked at your screen time? If there’s one thing we can learn from it it’s that our minutes add up. Have you ever been about to start a book but thought to yourself do I have time for this right now? Deciding you don’t you jump into a social app instead to catch up on what’s happening there.

How come checking into social is easier to do than opening up a book? When we’re technically reading in both options.

We often don't think about our minutes spent on the phone before we reach for it, but the moment we open up a book we panic over where we’ll have the time to get through its thick pages. We put so much pressure on ourselves before we even start.

Don’t make reading such a big thing.

Forget about the whole book of 500 pages. Keep it simple and only think about the single pages. Read 10 pages a day or set a timer for 20 minutes. Reading a little bit here and there will put you closer to the end of the book with each turned page.

The chosen minutes to read DO add up.

16. Keep It Fun

This should be a no brainer, but stop reading the books you think you *should* read, and just read the ones you want to read. There are no rules. Just reading.