Some childhood lessons stay with us forever, like the one I learned: always bring a book. Growing older we sometines need to look back, to Learn How to Love Reading again, and maybe even one day write a book.
In third grade, this lesson saved me when I sneakily read “Harry Potter” under my desk during math class. Books have been my companions on airplanes, long drives, hiking breaks, and even at social gatherings.
I love reading because it helps calm my busy mind. It’s also good for your health, with research showing that reading keeps your mind sharp, reduces stress, and can even improve your sleep.
Reading isn’t just about words; it can also help us understand others better and think critically. But here’s the problem: many people don’t read much anymore. A 2021 survey by the Pew Research Center found that 23% of adults in the U.S. hadn’t read any part of a book in the past year. This is a shame because reading is a fantastic invention we often overlook.
So, here are eight simple strategies to help you learn how to love reading…again.
“Reading is essential for those who seek to rise above the ordinary.”
1. Begin with Baby Steps
Want to get into reading? Start small. Dive into short-story collections or long magazine articles to ease into the habit. Chasity Moreno from the New York Public Library suggests, “You don’t have to be like, ‘I’m going to read ‘War and Peace.’’” She recently enjoyed “The Dangers of Smoking in Bed: Stories” by Mariana Enriquez, a collection of twelve short stories. Shorter works are less intimidating and can help you establish a reading routine that suits you.
2. Keep Track of Your Reading
Tracking your reading progress is a great way to stay motivated. I log every book I read, along with the date I finished it, in a Word document. I also find the Goodreads app handy. It lets you log books you’ve read or want to read, see what your friends are reading, and read other readers’ reviews. Anne Bogel, host of the podcast “What Should I Read Next?” and author of the “Modern Mrs. Darcy” blog, reads around 200 books each year. She’s a strong advocate for tracking your reading, saying it helps build a more satisfying reading life. By keeping a record, you can discover what types of books bring you the most joy.
3. Dive into Reading Challenges
Looking to spice up your reading life? Consider joining a reading challenge. There are plenty to choose from, like the Barnes & Noble 2023 Book Challenge, which includes 52 prompts. You can read an anthology, try an author who’s new to you, explore a book with a map, delve into something set in the 1700s, or pick a title that scares you a bit. These challenges push you to read outside your comfort zone, and they’re a lot of fun, says Chasity Moreno. If you prefer, create your own challenge, like reading every book featured on this year’s New York Times hardcover nonfiction bestsellers list.
4. Set Daily Reading Goals
If you like setting specific goals, aim to read a certain number of pages each day. I personally target 50 pages a day, but you can choose what works best for you, whether it’s 10, 25, or 100 pages. Alternatively, set a goal to finish a book per week or a specific number of books per year. If you prefer not to set a number, allocate a part of your day to reading. For example, Maryanne Wolf reserves 15 minutes every morning for reading and, if necessary, reads at night instead. This dedicated reading time centers her and offers a precious sanctuary.
5. Explore Different Reading Formats
If you’ve always stuck to physical books, consider trying different formats. I was a die-hard print book enthusiast until the pandemic hit, and I discovered the convenience and safety of e-books. Now, I’m a loyal Kindle user. Embracing e-books and audiobooks opens up more opportunities for reading, especially when you’re waiting in line, exercising, walking the dog, or doing household chores. Listening to an audiobook counts as reading, so you can enjoy books while multitasking.
6. Juggle Multiple Books
To read more, ensure you always have exciting options at hand. Anne Bogel, for example, often reads several books at once—both print and digital, nonfiction and fiction. Reading multiple books eliminates decision fatigue and ensures there’s always something to match your mood.
7. Find Your Reading Community
Discovering like-minded readers can enhance your reading experience. Platforms like #Bookstagram on Instagram offer aesthetically pleasing book photos. Online communities like Goodreads, The StoryGraph, and LibraryThing connect book enthusiasts worldwide. These communities provide a social connection, making reading feel less solitary. Local libraries are also hubs of reading communities, with librarians eager to recommend books and host book clubs and social events. Interacting with fellow readers can lead to great book recommendations.
8. Don’t Be Afraid to Quit
Lastly, don’t feel obligated to finish every book you start. Anne Bogel often asks readers what’s stopping them from reading more, and many mention being stuck in a book they don’t enjoy. The best thing you can do for your reading life? Give yourself permission to quit a book that doesn’t resonate with you. This opens up space for books you’ll love, which is the ultimate motivation to read more. And overall, this should be the tips to learn how to love reading.