You might have heard that reading every day is great and that you should do it. But where to begin?
To start reading every day, focus on consistency over quantity. Start by reading for 20-30 minutes and choose simple and enjoyable books. Consistently reading a little every day is key to building a reading habit.
Read on if you want to learn the exact steps to begin reading every day.
7 simple steps to start reading every day
1. Focus on consistency and not on the number of pages read
Whenever people want to begin something new, due to the excitement many of them (including me) tend to overdo things. When it comes to reading, people might begin by reading difficult books for prolonged periods of time. However, as the initial excitement fades, maintaining this pace becomes difficult and they give up.
“When you start a new habit, it should take less than two minutes to do.”James Clear, Atomic Habits1
A simple solution to this issue is to instead focus on reading a little every day. In other words, instead of reading for one hour each day or 50 pages each day, focus on reading just for 2-30 minutes or 1 page daily.1
You can still read more than that if you want, but your goal should be to read at least 1 page every day. And after reading that page you are safe, if you want you can read on, and if you do not want to continue – you can stop reading.
Eventually, after reading like this for about 30- 60 days straight you will begin forming a habit (it can take anywhere from 18 to 254 days to fully form a new habit2). And then if you prefer you can begin ramping up the reading difficulty and goals.
2. Start with easy and fun books
Another reason why many people fail to start reading every day is that they start by reading extremely long and difficult books such as Capital by Thomas Piketty.3
Instead, you should start by choosing shorter and more enjoyable books. This will decrease the likelihood of boredom and increase your chances of maintaining a daily reading commitment.
In fact, below I’ve provided some excellent book recommendations that you can use to begin reading daily.
3. Make books easy to access
As previously discussed in my article on establishing a reading habit, our habits or automatic behaviors are triggered by what scientists call cues. These are generally things that remind us of a certain action or routine.
For example, you might see a book on your living room table, and this might serve as a cue or in other words a trigger that will inspire you to begin reading.
Seeing the book may prompt the thought, “Maybe I should start reading, I am quite curious about what will happen next,” and then you might pick up the book and start reading.
Therefore, by making books easy to access, you will create more of these reading cues and increase the likelihood of reading. This means placing books in various locations around your house, such as the toilet, kitchen, living room, and study
You should also always carry a book with you and consider even having audiobooks and ebooks on your phone. The name of the game here is to make books easy to access.
4. Read in the mornings or before bed
One more reason why people fail to read every day is that they find it difficult to find time for reading or even forget to do so. Thus, by having a daily dedicated time for reading you will be more likely to succeed.
As a general rule, the best time that you can block out for reading is sometime in the morning or the evening. Since these are the times. when people are generally free and do not have obligations such as work or school.
For example, you should consider reading after breakfast (this is what I do). Or you could do what Bill Gates does and read before bedtime.4
5. Read multiple books
Reading only one book at a time can be another pitfall that stops you from reading daily. Since if you read only one book you might not always be in the mood to read it.
For example, if you are feeling sad, you might not want to read a sad book at that time, and you might want to instead read something fun that would uplift your mood.
A simple solution here is to read multiple books. Just have 2 or 4 books belonging to different genres and moods and you will be set – you will always have something to read that fits your mood.
Furthermore, you will end up reading more and faster since by reading books that fit your mood you will be more motivated.
I made an entire guide on how to read multiple books and so you are interested I recommend checking it out here. Also, if you are still not convinced why reading multiple books is a good idea, I have written another article that explains why reading multiple books is a good idea.
6. Try out different formats
For some people printed books can be cumbersome to carry and reading them might require too much mental energy. So if you are struggling with reading or just starting out, it might be a good idea to try out different formats and see what works best for you.
I highly recommend trying out audiobooks as this is something that is very mobile and many people enjoy listening more than reading. While the activity is not the same as reading, it still allows you to consume books, which, for most, is the main goal of reading.
Another format that you could try is e-books. They are way more portable and easy to access than printed books. Furthermore, e-book apps and devices such as kindle have many useful features such as highlighting.
The main message here is that you should try out different formats, and see which formats work the best for you. This should make reading easier and more accessible, which will ultimately increase the likelihood of you reading every day.
7. Create incentives to read
Probably the main reason for why many people fail to read every day is that they do not have a strong reason reading. Therefore, before beginning to read daily, you should first ask yourself why are you doing this, and why it is important to you.
Do you want to become a better reader, learn something new, grow as a person, etc? The stronger the reason, the more likely you are to stick to your commitment.
Furthermore, you should consider ways of making reading rewarding. Such as drinking coffee while reading to make it more pleasant. Or reward yourself with a cookie after each reading session.
By making reading more pleasant you will be more likely to initiate it as you will crave it more. And the immediate reward is an important part of reinforcing a daily reading habit.
Lastly, if you are really serious about reading every day you should consider making a stronger commitment to do so. For example, you could write down your reading goals (e.g. read every day for at least 20 minutes) and track them every day.
To further reinforce your reading goals you could use a commitment contract, which was shown to be an effective tool for achieving one’s goals5. For example, you could have a commitment contract with your friend, where if you fail to read for 20 minutes every day for 30 days you will have to pay your friend 50 USD.
The above list is just the main actions you should try to start reading daily. You should experiment and pick and choose what works for you and experiment.
And if you want a more thorough guide, I wrote a more in-depth 5000-word article on how to build a reading habit, you can read it here.
5 great books to begin reading every day
1. “The Lord of the Rings” by JRR Tolkien. This epic fantasy novel is a classic that has been loved by millions of people for decades. The story follows hobbit Frodo Baggins as he sets out on a journey to destroy the powerful One Ring, which has the power to enslave all of Middle-earth. The book is full of memorable characters, exciting action, and deep themes that will stay with you long after you finish reading.
2. “The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho. This powerful fable tells the story of a young shepherd named Santiago who is on a journey to fulfill his personal legend and achieve his dreams. Along the way, he encounters a series of obstacles and meets a number of wise and mysterious characters who help guide him on his journey. The book is a great reminder of the importance of following your heart and trusting in the universe.
3. “Shoe dog” by Phil Knight. The memoir of Nike co-founder, Phil Knight, this book is a fascinating look at the man behind one of the most iconic brands in the world. It tells the story of how a young Phil Knight turned a small start-up company into one of the most recognizable brands on the planet.
4. “The Little Prince” by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. This classic French novella tells the story of a young prince who has traveled from planet to planet, learning about life from the inhabitants of each world he visits. The book is a simple but powerful tale of friendship, love, and the importance of seeing the world through the eyes of a child.
5. “The Diary of a Young Girl” by Anne Frank. This diary written by a Jewish teenager, Anne Frank, during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands, is a powerful and moving testimony of one girl’s experience during one of the most troubling times in human history. It offers a unique window into the lives of Jewish people during the Holocaust and is a powerful reminder of the resilience of the human spirit.
These five books are a great place to start reading daily, each one is sure to provide you with an exciting and enlightening experience.
Why you should read every day?
“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, you more places you will go.”6
By reading every day you will begin to develop a reading habit – this will make reading more automatic and easy. As a result, you will end up reading a lot more books and growing as a person.
Furthermore, reading has numerous benefits, such as learning new things, boosting your communication skills, empathy, memory, and even mental health7.
Is reading every day healthy?
Reading every day is generally healthy as long as you do not overdo it. You should read in a comfortable position and in a well-lit place. Also, you should stand up and move a bit every 30 minutes or so to keep your body mobile and avoid cramps. See our article on healthy reading to learn more.
Lastly, you should avoid reading for too long at the expense of your health. We generally need about 8-9 hours of sleep, to exercise each day at least a bit (e.g. 1 hour), and to eat proper meals, which might take another 2 hours each day.
This means that even if you dedicate your whole day to reading you should not read for longer than 9 or 8 hours per day since otherwise, this might begin impacting your health negatively.
How many hours a day is the ideal reading time?
As mentioned, if you are a beginner reader you should start simple – by reading 1 page per day or 20-30 minutes a day. Eventually, as you develop a reading habit and become a better reader you can begin to read for longer periods such as 2 or 3 hours daily.
In fact, I wrote an entire article on how much time you spend reading daily, so if you are curious you can check it out here.