How to Build a Reading Habit

Aman Manazir

When I was younger, I loved reading. I would read dozens of books every month, often staying up late into the night and reading them at every chance I had.

Like most, I abandoned this habit as soon as I entered high school. The books that we were required to read weren’t interesting to me, so I began to associate the activity of reading with work. I only read the books assigned for school, struggling to get through a few pages.

However, earlier this year, I decided that I was going to make a consistent effort to get back into the reading habit. I purchased The 4-Hour Workweek and told myself that I would make sure I’d read the whole thing and take notes over it.

To my surprise, I actually got through it and accomplished my goal of dissecting the book. Since then, I’ve stayed consistent with reading and have pretty much always devoted time of my day to it.

Over the past few months, I’ve developed a few key techniques that anyone can use to get back into the habit of reading.

Read What You Enjoy

The first step to integrate reading back into your life is to stop associating it with work.

For several years, I only read books I was forced to read by my school. Even if I wandered out into some personal reading, after a couple minutes I would start thinking that if I was going to do work I should probably devote that energy to my assignments.

You will never learn to love reading if you think of it as forced labor. This is why you should start by only reading books that you enjoy, no matter what the genre or reading level.

Naval Ravikant, one of the most insightful and interesting people I’ve ever listened to, often talks about how he used to read a great deal of comic books when he was a child. Over time, he would naturally ascend the informational hierarchy of books, moving from comic books, to young adult, to science fiction, and finally to nonfiction.

Nowadays, he reads physics and computer science textbooks in his free time. Luckily, no one tore his comic books away from him when he was a child and scolded him for not reading Steinbeck.

If you let yourself read what you enjoy, you’ll naturally start to explore other genres and get to more information dense books over time.

Don’t Finish Every Book

Most of us have this belief that if we start a book, we can only move on to another one if we finish it first.

This often results in many people picking up a book that they don’t really enjoy, and then never moving on or getting through it because they have this idea that it would be sacrilegious to give it up and try another one.

Most people will say they are currently “reading” a book, but they are really stuck in this limbo stage where they aren’t finishing their previous book but are too afraid to start another one.

If you really don't enjoy a book, put it down and start another one. Obviously it's good to get through them, but there should be no shame in stopping, restarting, and jumping around several books.

It’s more important that you consistently read rather than stay stuck in a book that you don’t like.

Read Every Day

If you want to build a reading habit, you need to regularly devote time to doing so.

Most people think they have to spend hours reading every day, but that’s not the case. All you need to do is devote as little as 5-10 minutes every day reading. This could be right before bed, while you're eating breakfast, or even when you're in the bathroom.

As long as you do this consistently, over time you will naturally start to read more and expand that small window of time.

I usually like to set aside 30 minutes to an hour every morning as my dedicated reading time, just because I like to take notes and write video scripts based on the ideas I encounter.

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