14 Ways to Cultivate a Lifetime Reading Habit

All excellent tips from Lifehack.org on how to cultivate a lifetime reading habit. I would add that if you  err on the side of too many books in your house you will be able to put a bad book down before finishing it. Being able to put a book down is wonderfully liberating, and made much easier if you have another to pick up. My favorites from Lifehack excerpted below:

  • Always carry a book. Wherever you go, take a book with you. When I leave the house, I always make sure to have my drivers license, my keys and my book, at a minimum. The book stays with me in the car, and I take it into the office and to appointments and pretty much everywhere I go, unless I know I definitely won’t be reading (like at a movie). If there is a time when you have to wait (like at a doctor’s office or at the DMV), whip out your book and read. Great way to pass the time.
  • Make a list. Keep a list of all the great books you want to read. You can keep this in your journal, in a pocket notebook, on your personal home page, on your personal wiki, wherever. Be sure to add to it whenever you hear about a good book, online or in person. Keep a running list, and cross out the ones you read. Tech trick: create a Gmail account for your book list, and email the address every time you hear about a good book. Now your inbox will be your reading list. When you’ve read a book, file it under “Done”. If you want, you can even reply to the message (to the same address) with notes about the book, and those will be in the same conversation thread, so now your Gmail account is your reading log too.
  • Find a quiet place. Find a place in your home where you can sit in a comfortable chair (don’t lay down unless you’re going to sleep) and curl up with a good book without interruptions. There should be no television or computer near the chair to minimize distractions, and no music or noisy family members/roommates. If you don’t have a place like this, create one.
  • Reduce television/Internet. If you really want to read more, try cutting back on TV or Internet consumption. This may be difficult for many people. Still, every minute you reduce of Internet/TV, you could use for reading. This could create hours of book reading time.
  • Keep a log. Similar to the reading list, this log should have not only the title and author of the books you read, but the dates you start and finish them if possible. Even better, put a note next to each with your thoughts about the book. It is extremely satisfying to go back over the log after a couple of months to see all the great books you’ve read.
  • Blog it. One of the best ways to form a habit is to put it on your blog. If you don’t have one, create one. It’s free. Have your family go there and give you book suggestions and comment on the ones you’re reading. It keeps you accountable for your goals.
  • Set a high goal. Tell yourself that you want to read 50 books this year (or some other number like that). Then set about trying to accomplish it. Just be sure you’re still enjoying the reading though — don’t make it a rushed chore.
  • Have a reading hour or reading day. If you turn off the TV or Internet in the evening, you could have a set hour (perhaps just after dinner) when you and maybe all the members of your family read each night. Or you could do a reading day, when you (and again, your other family members if you can get them to join you) read for practically the whole day. It’s super fun.
12 comments on “14 Ways to Cultivate a Lifetime Reading Habit
  • I love the gmail suggestion, though the idea that 50 books is a goal number strikes me as laughable…you do realize that’s only one book a week, right? I don’t know if this is because I’m still in college, but I find that I read at least two books a week, except perhaps during finals when I have to cut that back to the 200 pages of required reading or so that I have for classes.

    I was wondering as I read this though if you’d considered doing a post of your top 10/15/20 most recommended books, since I (and other readers, I’m sure) would be curious to see what you’re reading and enjoying.

  • In addition to the gmail idea, I use 2 really good online resources. http://www.librarything.com is where I record what I read, what I thought of it, when I bought/received it etc, and http://www.bookmooch.com is where I keep my wishlist. I struggle to find a lot of US business oriented books in the UK and bookmooch is perfect for finding them. If I find a book I want to read online, I add straight to bookmooch. As most of my recommendations come from online soources (including the social function on librarything) this works well. Which is odd – I read much more broadly due to my digital world. Hard copy books and digital world can co-exist quite happily!

  • The mechanics of reading presume a desire to read. I think most avid readers have many tricks up their sleeves, including some not listed here. But it all has to start early when many of these tips are not applicable.

    In my observation, very few children, who grow up reading and who become reading adults, do so if their parents do not have a reading bug. So tip 1 would probably be: encourage children around you to read. I do. Giving them books as presents is far better than guessing at what games/ CDs they may like. A book opens a conversation – and may keep it going – with the child in fascinating ways. Tip 2 was what my father employed: you can read anything from the family bookshelf that you can reach yourself, whether on tiptoes or with the help of a piece of furniture.

    On Tech tricks:
    * Keep a on-my-shelf list on Shelfari.com and you will also find conversations which may spur you on to read more.

    * Review books, preferably where others can read and rate the reviews such as on Amazon. Recommendations from Amazon may not always help but sometimes can provide things to add to the to-read list.

    * Let it be known to friends that you immensely prefer receiving book coupons as presents. After receiving gifts of the Magi for several years, I have done so and now each birthday I receive several which fund my habit, so to speak. 😉

  • Didn’t preview so corrigenda, with apologies:

    1. Sentence 1: ‘presumes’.

    2. Tech trick 1 should be ‘an’ on-the-shelf list.. not ‘a’

  • Another “trick” I use to increase the volume of books (business related albeit) is to pay for a book summary service (I use Soundview). That way I’m able to quickly get distilled version of the biz book all the while reading my personal interest books. If I happen to like the summary, I’ll buy the book at a discount.

  • Here’s another reading tip: Don’t have TV in your house. That will really free up a lot of time for reading.

    Lest you think that I am some sort of anti-TV zealot, rest assured that I am not. I enjoy my trips to the gym, where the TV is frequently tuned to fun things like ESPN and CNN. I also visit friends who enjoy watching the tube, and I’ll sit and watch with them.

    But when I’m home, no TV. It takes too much time away from reading.

  • nice ben!!! I like it too! awesome! I have been carrying about my books with me always, just cause I read alot more now. Read more, and for some reason my income has gone up too 🙂

  • Jose has a great point. I also use Soundview and they give you about 2-3 summaries per month. I wish they provided more, but it’s a good way to get an overview of books.

    For the parents out there, I recommend reading to your kids every single night (make a habit out of it!) My parents were nice enough to read to us at the same time every night growing up and it certainly helped my lifelong reading habit. It also didn’t hurt that they gave us books as gifts and we thought that was normal…

  • We have never had a TV in my household, and it’s safe to say that I’m SO much better read as a result! As the Chilis sing, throw away your television…!

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