How to Start Reading (The Ultimate Guide + Image Quotes)

“To develop the habit of reading is to build for yourself a refuge from almost all of life's miseries.” —William Somerset Maugham

“Read more” is one of the top goals that many people set for themselves, right after “lose weight,” “stop procrastinating,” and “fall in love.” And rightly so: a good book can be immensely satisfying, teach you about things beyond your daily horizons, and create characters who are so vivid that you feel as if you know them personally.

If reading is a habit you'd like to develop, there are several approaches you can take.

First and foremost, recognize that reading is a pleasurable experience if you have a good book to read. If you force yourself through a bad book (or an extremely difficult one), it will feel like a chore. If this occurs for several days in a row, consider abandoning the book and finding one that you will truly enjoy.

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Aside from that, try the following suggestions for cultivating a lifetime reading habit:

Schedule your time. You should set aside a few times each day to read for at least 5-10 minutes. These are the times when you will read no matter what — triggers that occur on a daily basis. Make it a habit, for example, to read at breakfast and lunch (and even dinner if you eat alone). And if you read every time you sit on the can and before going to bed, you now have four times a day when you can read for ten minutes — or 40 minutes a day. That's a great start, and it would be an excellent daily reading habit on its own. But there is something else you can do.

Always keep a book with you. Take a book with you wherever you go. When I leave the house, I always make sure to have at the very least my driver's license, my keys, and my book. I keep the book in my car and bring it to the office, appointments, and pretty much everywhere I go, unless I know I won't be reading (like at a movie). If you have to wait somewhere (like a doctor's office or the DMV), take out your book and read. Excellent way to pass the time.

Make a list of everything. Make a list of all the wonderful books you want to read. This can be kept in your journal, a pocket notebook, your personal home page, your personal wiki, or anywhere else. Add to it whenever you hear about a good book, whether online or in person. Keep a running list of books you've read and cross them off as you finish them. Make a Gmail account for your book list and email the address whenever you hear about a good book. Your inbox is now your reading list. When you've finished a book, file it under “Done.” If you want, you can even reply to the message (to the same address) with book-related notes, and those will be included in the same conversation thread, so your Gmail account is now also your reading log.

Locate a quiet area. Find a quiet spot in your home where you can sit in a comfortable chair (don't lie down unless you're going to sleep) and read a good book without being interrupted. To reduce distractions, there should be no television or computer near the chair, as well as no music or noisy family members/roommates. If you don't already have a place like this, make one.

(((Instant Book Preview of How to Start Kindergarten)))

Reduce your use of television and the Internet. If you really want to read more, try limiting your TV and Internet usage. Many people may find this difficult. Still, every minute you spend away from the Internet/TV could be spent reading. This could result in several hours of book reading time.

You should read to your child. You must read to your children if you have them. Developing a reading habit in your children is the best way to ensure they will be readers when they grow up… and it will also help them to be successful in life. Find some good children's books and read them to them. At the same time, you're instilling a reading habit in yourself… and spending quality time with your child.

Keep a journal. This log, like the reading list, should include not only the title and author of the books you read, but also the dates you started and finished them, if possible. Even better, write a note next to each one outlining your thoughts on the book. It's very satisfying to go back through the log after a few months and see all of the great books you've read.

Visit used book stores. My favorite place to visit is a discount book store, where I can drop off all of my old books (I usually bring a couple of boxes of books) and get a substantial discount on used books I find in the store. I usually spend a couple of dollars on a dozen or more books, so even though I read a lot, books aren't a big expense for me. It's also a lot of fun to look through the new books that people have donated. Make it a habit to visit a used book store.

Have a day at the library. Of course, a library is even less expensive than a used book store. Make it a weekly excursion.

Read books that are entertaining and compelling. Find books that captivate you and keep you reading. Even if they aren't literary masterpieces, they pique your interest in reading, which is the goal here. After you've established a reading habit, you can progress to more difficult material, but for now, stick to the entertaining and engrossing. Stephen King, John Grisham, Tom Clancy, Robert Ludlum, Nora Roberts, Sue Grafton, Dan Brown… all of these well-known authors are well-known for a reason: they tell great stories. Vonnegut, William Gibson, Douglas Adams, Nick Hornby, Trevanian, Ann Patchett, Terry Pratchett, Terry McMillan, and F. Scott Fitzgerald are some other authors you might enjoy. They're all fantastic storytellers.

Make it enjoyable. Make reading time your favorite part of the day. While you read, enjoy some good tea or coffee, or another type of treat. Take a seat in a comfortable chair and wrap yourself in a warm blanket. Read at sunrise or sunset, or while relaxing on the beach.

(((Instant Book Preview of How Not to Start Third Grade)))

It's worth a blog post. Putting it on your blog is one of the best ways to form a habit. If you don't already have one, make one. It's completely free. Allow your family to accompany you there and make book recommendations as well as comments on the ones you're currently reading. It holds you accountable to your objectives.

Set a lofty goal. Make a goal for yourself to read 50 books this year (or some other number like that). Then set about attempting to achieve it. Just make sure you're still enjoying the reading and not turning it into a chore.

Make a reading hour or a reading day out of it. If you turn off the TV or Internet in the evening, you could have a set hour (perhaps just after dinner) when you and possibly all of your family members read each night. Or you could organize a reading day in which you (and possibly other family members if you can persuade them to join you) read for the majority of the day. It's a lot of fun.

Do you have any suggestions for developing a reading habit? Or do you have any favorite books or authors to recommend? Tell us in the comments!

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