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How to Develop Your Reading Habit

How to Develop Your Reading Habit




Three Parts:Developing a Reading HabitDeciding What to ReadMaking Reading a Life-Long CommitmentCommunity Q&A

Reading is not just an important professional skill. It is also a way to enjoy informative, creative, and inspiring works of literature that enrich our life experiences. Like any skill worth mastering, a reading habit requires time and dedication to develop. It is, however, a lifelong source of enjoyment and entertainment and an affordable hobby for anyone who wants to pick up a book.

Part 1

Developing a Reading Habit


Improve your reading skills. In order to build your reading habit and enjoy your reading to the fullest, begin practicing good reading skills. For example:

  • Read for content. When you read, read for the main idea of each paragraph, along with its supporting reasons. When building up lapsed reading skills, it can be helpful to read with a pencil in hand to take notes or underline the key idea of each paragraph.
  • Look up unfamiliar words. Merriam Webster online is a wonderful and thorough resource for defining unfamiliar words. Simply underline or make a list of unfamiliar words. When you reach a good stopping point, return to each word and look it up, re-reading the sentence it appeared in. This helps contextualize the word and its usage in case there are multiple meanings.[1]
  • Learn to appreciate context. When encountering unfamiliar words or ideas, often the literary, historical, or social context of the text can offer clues as to what the character or writer is talking about. This may require a small amount of outside research to become informed on the different levels of context presented by a text.[2]
  • Become familiar with literary devices. Particularly if you are a fan of novels and short stories, becoming familiar with common literary tactics is an important part being a better reader. Understanding common tools like metaphor, hyperbole, parallel structure, personification, and alliteration can enrich the reading experience significantly.[3][4]
  • Don’t rush. Reading for learning and enjoyment is never a sprint. Instead, take your time, nurture your skills and their development at your own pace. Do not get discouraged if you are a slow reader, especially at first. Each day, as you read, your mind will take the reading tactics it learned before and apply them again, often with greater efficiency.[5]


Keep reading materials handy. A basketball player can’t practice if she doesn’t have her ball and sneakers ready. Reading is the same as any other skills. Below are some suggested ways of always having fresh reading material nearby:

  • Get subscriptions: Trade or special interest magazines are a good way of keeping current reading material nearby. There are also literary magazines like Harper’s or The New Yorker for fiction and creative writing.
  • Go to the library: Even the smallest town has a library full of books, free to check out. If you haven’t already, get your library card and see what your own local libraries have to offer.
  • Consider an e-Reader. Barnes and Noble, as well as Amazon, have e-Readers and a substantial selection of digital books for sale or loan. Libraries often offer free e-book loans, too.
  • Look online. Websites through university libraries often offer the full-texts of pre-copyright literary works online. For example, “Project Gutenberg,” currently hosted by Ibiblio through the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, currently contains nearly 50,000 essays, novels, novellas, and short stories and adds an average of 50 new novels a week.[6]


Find ways to connect reading to your everyday life. It is easier to grow your reading skills if you make reading a part of your daily schedule. Below are a few ways this can be accomplished.

  • Join a book club. These usually meet weekly or bi-monthly and are a good way of motivating you to read and also meeting people who are also committed to good reading habits. Book clubs also give you to ability to talk about what you read and the benefit of talking to multiple intelligent and interested readers.[7]
  • Download a news aggregator. There are several free services like Feedly or Digg that will let you follow online blogs, newspapers, and magazines through a browser-based platform that also organizes what you read into folders and sorts based on “read” vs. “unread” items.[8]
  • Find a time and place to read. Do you have a favorite table in a coffee shop, or a quiet corner of your own home where you like to curl up and relax? Find a place that is conducive to your own reading habit. Set aside regular time to enjoy your spot and always bring along your current reading.
  • Set daily or weekly goals. There is no prescribed speed at which to finish a book of magazine; however, if you are an ambitious reader, and have a list of reading your are itching to tackle, setting reasonable reading goals is a good way of satisfying your ambitions. For example, set a goal that you will read for an hour a day, or that you will read one chapter of your current book, or 10 pages of your current magazine.

Part 2

Deciding What to Read



Consider your hobbies and personal interests. Reading can be more interesting and satisfying when we read about topics that we care about.

  • Seek out blogs, books, and magazines that pertain to your own hobbies and interests in order to incentivize reading and maximize enjoyment.


Get recommendations from friends. Word of mouth is often a useful tool to direct our reading choices.

  • Talk to friends or find readers online with common interests. Find out what books they’ve enjoyed.
  • is a good resource for getting book recommendations with thoughtful descriptions.[9]
  • Visit your local bookstore, if you have one. Most bookstore employees love reading and will be happy to recommend their favorites. If you have an independent or used bookstore, that’s even better.
Read the classics. Part of being a good reader is knowing what good writing looks like. Experience for yourself the books that have shaped Western history, while also considering: [10]
    • How to expand that search and look for books that are classics in other parts of the world as well.
    • Discover how each generation of writer claims, owns, and reinterprets the crucial facts of history for their own generation.

    See what critics say. They say everyone is a critic and that taste is relative; however, trends develop because certain instances of culture become resonant or relevant for many people at once. Some of the benefits of reading book reviews are:[11][12]

    • Developing a new set of reading skills. Reading criticism is a different sort of animal from reading fiction or non-fiction. Grow your skills in learning to understand the purpose and usefulness of literary criticism.
    • Getting info about a book without having to buy it. Reviews are a good way to anticipate and reject prospective book purchases. They are also a good way of learning how to articulate your own tastes as a reader.
    • Starting an informed conversation. Perhaps you and your book club have just read a book that got a mediocre review in the New York Times. Bring the review in and mention the key points the critic mentions. See what the others think. Develop your own opinion about the book.

    Create a reading list. It’s important to keep track of the books, magazines, and blogs that incite our interest so that, when our current book is done, we know what to move on to. is a good place to keep track of this; however, even a page in a personal journal is a good spot to keep track of what we hope to read in the future.

Part 3

Making Reading a Life-Long Commitment


Volunteer as a reader. Schools, nursing homes, correctional facilities, and even shelters for the homeless all appreciate the services of volunteer readers. Acting as a volunteer reader is an important service because:

    • Not every child gets the parental time at home required to build good reading habits. In single parent homes with multiple children, it can be difficult for a parent to give individualized reading assistance to a child who is struggling. Acting as a volunteer means that you can shape a child’s educational future and professional prospects.[13]
    • Not every adult can read. For a variety of different reasons, there are people who reach adulthood without training in literacy, which curtails job prospects and the ability to live independently. As a volunteer reader for adults, you can have a positive impact on the life and self-esteem of persons in need.[14]
    • You can enable life-long learning. For elderly persons with vision problems, reading may no longer be an option. Especially if they enjoyed reading earlier in life, having someone come and read to them is not only a learning experience. It can offer companionship, friendship, and a mutual exchange of education.[15]
    • Some communities may also have a volunteer program where you can record textbooks and other written material for people who are blind or dyslexic to listen to.[16]


    Start or participate in a book swap program. Look online, through resources like, or locate a used bookstore in your area that participates in a book swap.[17]

    • Especially if you like reading pop fiction, romance novels, or sci-fi, book swaps are a useful and inexpensive way to keep your bookshelf full.


    Go to book festivals. Want to learn about new authors and meet authors you already know? Book festivals are a great opportunity for both. They also provide other benefits, including:

    • Books for sale. Publishers and book vendors come out to book festivals and often offer sales on books by the authors appearing at the festival.
    • Get a book signed. Especially if an author has just been published, they are often asked to appear at book festivals to promote their work. Book signings will let you enjoy literacy and create an heirloom at the same time.
    • Enjoy being read to. Festivals often have guest authors read passages from their more recent works or will host public readings to incite interest in or memorialize talented authors.


    Keep a reading blog. A reading blog is a good way to remember books you enjoyed, write criticism of books you didn’t, and keep track of what you’ve already read. Additionally, a reading blog can:

    • Help you meet people. Make your entries public and let random people from across the internet enjoy and even comment on your thoughts.
    • Practice writing. Reading and writing are two halves of the same coin. Being able to write well, and even emulate writing styles you enjoy, is a good exercise. It also requires becoming your own editor, reading back over what you’ve written to ensure quality and precision


    Learn to read in other languages. If you enjoy reading in your own language, choose a new language to learn. You can start reading in another language by:

    • Getting a dictionary in the selected language. Check one out from the library or purchase a copy from a bookstore.
    • Beginning with children’s books. Books for young school-aged children are composed of simple, straight-forward passages and have basic vocabulary pertaining to common, easily translatable life-events. Learning to read at this basic level can prepare you to tackle more advanced readings.[18]
    • Picking up a poetry translation. Pick a well-known poet in the language you’ve chosen to learn and find a version of their book that includes versions in their native language alongside a version in your native language. Read slowly and carefully, comparing the translation to the original version. See how certain concepts have been translated along with the language used to describe them. This is an effective way of understanding not just a new language, but a new culture as well. [19]















































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