This year, I’ve managed to build a good reading habit and have read 40 books to-date.
When I shared it on IG, I had some friends who reached out to me saying they don’t know how I do it. They have always wanted to read more but failed to stick to the habit. I think this is a fairly common theme. We often hear people say “This year, I want to read more” but starting is easy, sticking to it is hard.
So here’s what has worked for me – 5 tips to help you read more books:
1. Establish reasonable reading ‘rules’
I realised that many people have many rules when it comes to reading. Such as:
‘I can only read one book at a time. If I don’t finish this book, I’m not allowed to read the next’
‘If I start a book I MUST finish it’
And when they don’t adhere to these self imposed rules, they feel like they have cheated or they feel guilty. So when they read a book that they aren’t that into, they just put off reading until they ‘feel like it again’. That’s not cheating right? that’s just postponement.
In my opinion, that is missing the point.
Reading is suppose to be enjoyable – be it to gain new knowledge, to improve your language abilities, for entertainment etc. So when we are bounded by restrictive rules, we actually foresake the ultimate goal of reading more. We can always set our own rules. These rules are a ‘preference’ not a ‘must’. Example, maybe you can tell yourself ‘I prefer to read only one book at a time, but I’m allowed to read another book for days that I don’t feel like reading on that particular topic’. After all, we allow ourselves to watch multiple tv series simultaneously, so why can’t we do the same for reading?
My personal reading rule is:
- I can read a maximum of 2 books at a time because I don’t want my mind to be pulled into various directions, so I’ll make sure to choose appropriate reading topics eg. One with a heavier topic, and maybe another fiction
- I prefer to always finish the books I read because I want to give it a chance but if i find myself struggling to pick it up over a month and the topic is unlikely to bring much value to me even after reading it, I’ll drop it (eg. I’ve actually started reading The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists before, but I just didn’t enjoy it at all, so I stopped).
2. Habit stack
What habit stack means is you ‘stack’ the reading habit on top of (ie.with) an existing habit that you already have and enjoy. Example, you find yourself watching Netflix everytime before you sleep. So then make it a point to read 1 chapter and then you can watch all the Netflix that you want. This works on so many levels because:
- One chapter is bite-sized and attainable, the time investment is small so you are unlikely to resist the thought of it
- It becomes built-in your regular routine since you are habit stacking with a habit you do on a regular; the more you repeat it, the more the reading habit will stick
- The reward is satisfying because you get to do your absolute favourite thing after, so the more positive feelings get associate with the habit of reading, the more you’d repeat it (plus, you may feel extra productive too like hell yeah I read today, so I totally deserve to binge watch friends)
Personally, I always read before bed because that’s when I tend to mindlessly scroll on my phone so I tell myself, I’ll read first, once I’m done I can scroll on my phone. Chances are when I’m reading a good book, I could read for an entire hour and skip the scrolling part altogether and head to bed after.
3. Share about what you have read
This is actually the tip that works for me the most! This achieves two things:
- It helps you remember more about what you have read – and the more you feel like you have gained from reading, the more likely you are to continue
- It serves as a pseudo-accountability partner – you don’t have to be part of a book club, or have a friend to keep you accountable to reading – but just the act of sharing in social media (or for me it’s this blog!) makes you feel like oooh I’m accountable to my ‘followers’ to share my book takeaways
Ultimately, it’s about the joy of learning, sharing and discussing new ideas with someone else. Chances are when you share, you will attract other likeminded people who either will discuss with you because they have read the same book or they will suggest some great books to you too!
For me, writing here at Gudeiary has kept me accountable in writing my key takeaways and reviews and being able to discuss with other friends who are avid readers too.
4. Join Goodreads
Okay joining Goodreads is a tad specific but essentially any platform that allows you to track the books that you have read or want to read. I suggested Goodreads because functionalities wise, it hits all the right spots and serves as a great habit tracker!
There is something absolutely motivating when we can visually view progress. Whether it’s crossing off the calendar on days that you have worked out or watch your bank account grow as you save, being able to watch the number of books you read increase is oddly satisfying. Also with Goodreads, you can save books that you want to read, engage with the community, leave reviews and ratings – it’s no wonder it’s a must-have for many avid book readers!
For me, I love using it to find books that I would like to read and check out the ratings and reviews before I decide to commit my time to reading or purchasing a book. After all, the more good books you read, the more you’ll enjoy reading 🙂
5. Go digital
Unless you are a hardcore traditionalist, reading books doesn’t have to be archaic! With so many audiobook platforms to choose from such as Audible, Scribd and so many ebooks available for sale and download – you are no longer limited to a paperback book.
Incorporating these digital alternatives could be a great way to spice up a reading habit. Maybe pop on an audiobook while you are cooking, download an e-reader on your tablet so you can highlight and take notes as you read, or download it in your phone so you would read during your commute instead of scroll aimlessly on social media. You’d be surprised at how much you’d end up reading.
Personally, I read ebooks because I love being able to highlight points that stand out to me for future reference, and it’s so much lighter and easier to carry around, and best of all it has the night reading option, which means sometimes I can read in the dark (though not advised) with ease!
That wraps up the 5 tips! Hope you found something useful 🙂
If you want to get some suggestions on what to read/not to read -feel free to check out my other book related posts.