Figuring out how to read more can be a more challenging feat than you’d think. Regularly reading books is not a habit for everyone, and it’s not easy to make it become a habit.
Personally, I’m a huge fan of books. I consistently list reading as one of my top favorite hobbies, and frequently invest in new books to enjoy. Yet, I still feel I’m not reading as much as I should, and I could benefit from finding ways to learn how to read more.
Even in a home surrounded by books, I often struggle to find the time to pick up a novel. Research suggests I’m not alone. According to a study from Gallup, Americans are reading fewer books today than they did only a few years ago.
The reality is that many of us aren’t just leading busier lives these days, we’re also dealing with a larger number of distractions. With social media, streaming services, and endless websites to browse on the internet, we rarely make time for reading.
Screen time has progressively become much more prioritized than reading books.
However, investing more time into reading doesn’t just help you to cut down on screen time, educate yourself, and improve your mental health, it can also have many additional benefits. MRI scans have shown reading actually improves and enhances the structure of your brain, improving your cognitive performance, increasing creativity, and could even help protect you from cognitive decline.
Naturally, reading more books also increases your intelligence and expands your vocabulary.
Is reading more books one of your New Year’s Resolutions? If you’re wondering how to read more and make it a more regular habit, below we have some tips on how to read more.
How to Read More: A Step-by-Step Guide
Figuring out how to read more is similar to developing any other healthy habit. It takes time, commitment, and a little creativity. However, the benefits can be phenomenal. Just 30 minutes of reading per day, according to one study, is enough to reduce stress levels and lower your blood pressure. Here’s how you can get started:
Step 1: Find Your Motivation
Making a change in your life, whether it’s starting a new hobby, losing weight, or quitting a bad habit, can be challenging. The easiest way to achieve your goals is to ensure you have the right motivation to guide you. There are various reasons why someone might want to read more. Reading can teach us new skills, give us topics for conversation, provide some much-needed stress relief, help us escape personal struggles, and can reduce feelings of depression.
According to one study, reading literary fiction improves our ability to empathize, meaning we’re more likely to connect with our loved ones.
Reading can also improve our vocabulary, so we can communicate more effectively with colleagues and peers. Reading also helps to minimize cognitive decline, by strengthening the neural pathways in our brain.
Before you start investing more time into reading, ask yourself why you’re doing it. For instance, do you want to:
· Expand your knowledge: Reading can broaden your horizons, introduce you to new topics and ideas, and even help you understand specific topics. If you want to be more knowledgeable, either in general, or in a specific area, reading can help.
· Preserve mental health: As mentioned above, reading can improve cognitive function, slow memory decline, and even help tackle symptoms of depression and stress. Learning how to read more can help to keep your brain and mind healthy.
· Relax and unwind: Overcoming stress with periods of relaxation and self-care can be an excellent way to look after yourself in the new year. Picking up a good book will help you to disconnect from the challenges you face in reality – even just temporarily.
Step 2: Make Reading Easy
If you’re struggling to figure out how to read more, the problem could be there are too many hurdles to overcome in your life. One of the best ways to break a bad habit is to increase the friction around it. For instance, if you want to stop overeating, you might lock up your snacks and make them harder to access. To create a new habit, the best strategy is to look for ways to reduce the friction.
Think about the challenges you usually face when it comes to reading. Do you never have a good book on hand, or do you find it difficult to choose which book to read?
If you’re struggling with a lack of options, you can consider borrowing books from a library, for a cost-free way to expand your mind. Alternatively, you could sign up to a book subscription club, which will deliver books relevant to your interests to you on a monthly basis.
Another option is to explore different kinds of reading. If picking up a book is a problem for you, try audio books, or eBooks instead. Audio books are particularly useful if you’re struggling to find time to read, because you can enjoy them while you’re dealing with other tasks, such as cleaning your house, walking the dog, or exercising at the gym.
Step 3: Create a Reading List
One of the biggest challenges people face when determining how to read more, is figuring out where to start. There are millions of books available around the world today, in a huge variety of different genres and styles. If you already know what topics you’re interested in, consider researching some top-selling books online to help you create a reading list.
You can use tools such as GoodReads, or even Amazon to learn about trending books in your chosen genre, and even create your own book wishlist. It might even be worth creating a digital to-do list, so you can check off books one at a time as you get through them. Checking off books on a list can give you a sense of accomplishment which activates the pleasure response in your brain. This could mean you’re more likely to feel motivated to continue reading.
If you’re struggling to find books to read, consider joining a book newsletter, checking out reading blogs, or even joining a book club. Book clubs are great for building the reading habit, as they provide you with a set of novels to check out, and add a sense of accountability to the mix. You’ll be motivated to continue reading by the people you connect with.
When you’re finalizing your reading list, in addition to fiction, consider mixing in some self-help books whether it’s relationship advice books, or mental health advice.
Step 4: Set Goals Carefully
If you want to learn how to read more in the New Year, setting goals can be extremely helpful. Goals keep us motivated and focused on a specific task. According to research, setting specific goals can increase persistence, motivation, and performance.
However, it’s important to be careful about the goals you set. Many people make the mistake of giving themselves a certain number of books to read in a specific time period. While this can seem to be a good idea at first, it could mean you start prioritizing shorter books, or skipping through pages to reach your target.
Rather than trying to read a specific number of goals, it might be better to set simpler, more short-term targets. For instance, you could commit to reading a certain number of pages per day. Or you might set the goal of spending at least one hour on reading per week. Start small, and be realistic about what you can achieve. If you don’t have much time in your schedule, you might focus on just reading a handful of pages per day.
Step 5: Create a Reader-Friendly Environment or a ‘Book Nook’
Sometimes, the problem with learning how to read more isn’t finding the time to pick up a book, but staying focused on what you’re doing. We’re all exposed to endless distractions and potential interruptions in our day-to-day life.
With that in mind, it’s worth creating an environment where you can read comfortably and freely, without being disturbed. Choose a quiet and cozy area in your house, or in a local coffee shop if you want to get away from other people for a while.
Set up a book nook or reading corner. There, you’ll set yourself up with everything you might need when you’re reading, such as a comfortable reading chair and a blanket for warmth. When you read, bring water, healthy snacks, and or a nice cup of tea.
Within your reading space, you should be looking for ways to reduce distractions as much as possible. You could consider closing the door to your room and asking people not to disturb you for a certain time when you’re reading. It’s also worth turning off your phone, so you’re not distracted by messages and notifications on social media.
Step 6: Remind Yourself to Read
If you’ve established clear goals about figuring out how to read more in the New Year, you might assume it’s unlikely you’ll forget to actually pursue your targets. However, it’s easy to lose sight of your goals when you’re surrounded by the distractions of day-to-day life.
A good way to increase your chances of making reading a habit, is to use cues to remind yourself when to ready. Try displaying your books in your living room, next to your TV, so you can see them whenever you sit down to start streaming a new show or watching a program, reminding you of what you really should be doing.
Step 7: Make Reading Part of Your Bedtime Routine
Reading before bed is one of the best bedtime routine ideas out there, because one of the top reasons people struggle to fall asleep is because they’ve engaged in too much screen time, too close to their bedtime.
Reading before bed, for about an hour, in your bed with a very soft reading lamp (such as a salt lamp) and no bright lights – this will help you fall asleep. The act of reading before bed (instead of watching TV or scrolling through social media before bed) is considered excellent sleep hygiene.
This type of scheduled reading, such as making reading part of your bedtime routine, also helps you learn how to read more and helps you remember to read.
Therefore, consider scheduling your reading time into your calendar such as at bedtime, and using notifications to remind yourself when you should be settling down with a good book. It helps to assign a specific time to read each day. For instance, you might turn off all of your electronic devices and read for half an hour or an hour before bed each night. Reading can certainly help you get a better night’s sleep, by reducing your exposure to blue light and stimulating sounds, and therefore helping you relax.
Remember to Enjoy the Act of Reading
Reading more can be an incredible way to improve your mental health, intelligence, cognition, and overall quality of life. If your CircleDNA test reveals that you might be at risk of cognitive decline at some point in your life, reading could be a great way to ensure you protect your mental health.
However, learning how to read more shouldn’t feel exhausting or overwhelming. Forcing yourself to continue books you’re not interested in could end up making you dread your reading period. You want to actually look forward to the moments you spend with a good novel.
With this in mind, remember to keep reading fun, interesting and enjoyable. Don’t force yourself to continue reading something you’re not interested in. Experiment with different genres and styles to help prevent reading from getting stale and predictable. You can even add things to your reading routine that makes the experience more attractive, such as a favorite snack or some soft music.
Turn reading into an exciting opportunity to learn, such as through self-help books, or an enjoyable opportunity to escape the stressors of daily life.
Give yourself the freedom to actually enjoy reading, and you’ll be more likely to turn it into an everyday habit.
- Gallup: Americans Reading Fewer Books Than in Past
- NCBI: Reading skill and structural brain development
- ResearchGate: Stress Management Strategies For Students: The Immediate Effects Of Yoga, Humor, And Reading On Stress
- NCBI: Reading literary fiction improves theory of mind
- Frontiers: Goal Missed, Self Hit: Goal-Setting, Goal-Failure, and Their Affective, Motivational, and Behavioral Consequences
https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.704790/full#:~:text=Over 1%2C000 studies have consistently,Latham%2C 2002%2C 2006).