If You Want To Start Reading More, Here Are The Habits You Need To Adopt

Imagine a quiet afternoon all to yourself. Envision curling up in the shade of a tree or near a big window, book in hand and no interruptions in sight. Sounds pretty idyllic, doesn't it? Unfortunately, for many people, spending time enjoying a book also sounds aspirational rather than achievable.

It's a busy, noisy world out there, and it can be hard to carve out space for things like hobbies and self-care. Between responsibilities at work and home, it may feel like your personal time is nonexistent. Add in the constant distraction of social media and streaming services, and it's easy to accidentally squander what precious downtime you do have. No wonder so many people have trouble navigating how to find and commit to a fulfilling hobby. Even something as simple as reading can seem out of reach as you try to balance work, chores, and a social life.

But if you're wishing you had more time to take it easy and enjoy a good book, you're not alone. A Scribd survey found that 81% of respondents didn't read as much as they'd like to (via Forbes). So, how can you get past lifestyle roadblocks to include more books in your routine? If you want to start reading more, try adopting these habits.

Choose books you're excited about

Books are great because there's something for everyone, running the gamut from hyper-literary novels and weighty nonfiction to so-called "trashy" beach reads and genre fiction. But one strange thing about reading as a hobby is the amount of social pressure and judgment you may feel about the titles on your shortlist. When you're already struggling just to make time for reading, you may feel obligated to prioritize books that are considered "must-reads" by the general populace — even if it doesn't personally appeal to you.

Alas, picking your next book out of a sense of duty probably won't inspire you to actually read it. Instead, give yourself permission to choose books you're genuinely excited to read. There's no rule saying that you have to focus on the classics, Pulitzer-prize winners, or the hottest book of the moment. Find a book that resonates with you, whether that's a lighthearted romance, a plot-heavy fantasy novel, or a tome of dreamy poetry.

If you haven't been reading much in recent years, you may also feel a little lost. With so many books and so little time, where should you even begin? In that case, seek a source of reading inspo, like #bookstagram on Instagram or #booktok on TikTok. Here, you can find fellow readers who love your same niche, and see their genuine book reviews and recommendations.

Join a book club or recruit a reading buddy

When you're trying to read more in your day-to-day life, it can help to have some extra accountability and motivation. And what's more satisfying than being able to geek out about the amazing book you just read with someone else who has also finished it?

To make your new reading habit more fun, try finding someone to share your experience with. For some people, a book club is a great way to turn their solitary hobby into a chance for socialization and bonding. However, be sure to choose a book club that fits your schedule and aligns with your reading interests. If you're excited about sci-fi books, maybe don't join a book club that's working through all of Oprah's favorites. As we mentioned above, choosing books you're not excited about will just turn this hobby into another obligation to slog through.

Of course, some people may not like the group pressure and loss of autonomy that comes with a book club. If this sounds like you, consider finding a friend with similar taste in books, instead. A single reading buddy may be easier for you to manage, as you only have to navigate two opinions when selecting your next book. Plus, there will be fewer logistics involved in setting up a date to gossip about your latest read, and you may be able to move through books at a quicker pace.

Set goals and track your progress

When trying to spend more time with books, the last thing you want to do is make reading feel like a chore. But if you tend to be goal-oriented, it can't hurt to gamify your experience. In fact, pursuing a reading goal could help you revive your love of books. Tracking your progress and setting yourself challenges can nudge you toward reading, even when it feels tempting to veg out on the couch scrolling social media.

To set goals for your reading habit, you can think short-term or long-term. Choose a number of books you'd like to read this month, this season, or throughout the whole year. You can also focus on overall reading time rather than completed books, such as aiming to read for one hour a day. This way, you may feel less pressured to power through and finish books you don't like just to reach an arbitrary goal.

As for tracking your progress, there's no single way to log your book consumption, so find whatever method works for you. Some readers love to keep a running list of finished titles or an hour-tracking chart in a bullet journal. Many other book enthusiasts swear by apps and services like Goodreads, where they can rate past and current reads as well as bookmark titles to check out later. As an extra perk, apps like Goodreads enable you to see what your friends are reading, which can help you pick out your next book to devour.

Find opportunities to read throughout the day

One reason that it's tough to kickstart a reading hobby is the harsh reality of scheduling. When you're already feeling busy and overloaded, it can seem exhausting trying to cram in thirty minutes of book time. But you may be overlooking opportunities to sneak in a bit of reading throughout your day.

To make the most of unexpected downtime, carry your current book wherever you go — whether you're headed to work, an appointment, or out to run errands. This way, you can sneak in a chapter while sitting at the DMV or waiting for your kids in the school pickup line. You'll be surprised how quickly the time racks up, and how far you can make it into your book between other daily responsibilities.

You can also look for chances to add reading to a current routine. Sit and enjoy a book during your lunch break, or put down your phone and pick up a novel to unwind before bed. A study in Trials even found that reading before bed may improve sleep quality, so this is the perfect time to let go of an empty habit like endless scrolling and adopt something more positive and fulfilling.

Multitask with audiobooks

Sometimes, keeping a book on hand may not be enough to solve your busy schedule woes. But if you still can't make time for reading, you also have the option of multitasking with the help of audiobooks. These days, you don't have to check out cassettes or CDs from the library — though those are certainly still options. Now, audiobooks are widely available in digital formats that sync between your devices and make your current read easy to access at home, in your car, or on the go.

You can even enjoy your audiobooks while crossing things off your to-do list. Just pop in headphones and hit play while you're working on tasks that don't require your full attention. Ideal moments to listen might include during your commute, while washing dishes, or as you get ready for bed. Mindless habits like putting on makeup or tidying up are a perfect match for audiobooks because your body can go through the motions while your imagination is miles away.

If you cohabitate with someone who enjoys the same type of books as you, you can even put your audiobook on speaker and experience it while doing something else together — for example, while taking a road trip, cleaning your house, or even indulging in some arts and crafts time. This way, you're not only making time for reading without sacrificing other parts of your day, but you're creating a unique bonding moment with a fellow book lover.

Let yourself abandon books you don't like

In an ideal world, every book would hold your attention. But here in reality, it's completely natural to lose interest or even be disappointed when a book doesn't live up to your expectations. Everyone has different tastes in literature, so it's unreasonable to think that you'll love every book you pick up. However, a lot of readers feel like they're somehow failing by putting down a book once they've started it. Rather than move onto something new, they'll drag their feet and procrastinate — which is a quick way to squash a tender new reading hobby.

Don't force yourself to power through a book you don't adore, especially if you're trying to cultivate more reading in your life. Reading as a hobby should bring you joy, relaxation, and excitement, not a feeling of pressure or dread. Holding yourself to a standard of flawless book completion is just one more stressor in your life.

But what if you feel obligated to finish a certain tome since you're in a book club, or because it was a gift? The person or group who suggested this book probably didn't intend to torture you, so if the book isn't the right fit, let it go. Return it to the library, gift it to a friend, or donate it. Life is short — read the books you like.