Sometimes it’s hard to get back into the groove of things once you stop for a long time. For example, I used to be able to read at least 10 books in a year. Over time, that number decreased. Now, it almost seems like a struggle for me to get through one book. Either I can’t seem to find the time or the plot line in a book just doesn’t hold my attention for too long. For a lot of people, reading more is something they want to do but just don’t quite know how to.

Reading is a practice and takes a lot of dedication. Learn how to get back into reading. Find time to read and make it a priority. Here are some strategies you can adopt to build better reading habits and help you find ways to read more throughout the year.

1. Don’t rely on reading goals.

Setting goals is helpful, especially when you want to build better habits. However, if you usually read only one book a year, setting a goal of one book a week is unreasonable.

Set achievable and attainable goals. For example, start with one book a month. If you find that you can get through one quickly, then increase the amount to two, and so forth. When you’re not forcing yourself to accomplish hard-to-reach tasks, you’ll find that the pressure to read is less and you”ll come to enjoy it.

2. Read books you enjoy.

Don’t force yourself to read a book you don’t like. Put it down! Life is too short to read books you hate (unless it’s for a school assignment). If you find yourself asking, “Why am I reading this?”, then it’s time to give it up. Don’t force yourself to read for the sake of reading. You won’t be able to successfully accomplish your reading goals if you stick it out.

Find books and topics that you can’t seem to put down. You’ll thank yourself in the long run.

3. Always keep a book with you.

Whether you’re waiting on a long line, going to the park to enjoy the weather, or sitting on a bus or train on your way to work, make sure you keep a book on hand. Instead of staring aimlessly at your surroundings, pick up a book instead. And even if it’s only for a few minutes, those extra minutes count.

4. Try e-books or audio books.

There’s just something about the smell of a book and the feel of its pages that makes people fall in love with reading. But carrying around a big book all the time isn’t ideal. This is where technology can be your best friend. Switch to e-books if you’re always on the go and want to free up space. Want to go hands free completely? Simple. There’s always the option of listening to your books on audio while you run your errands. Audio books are especially useful if you’re driving or at the gym.

5. Borrow your next read.

Books can be expensive. If you find that you finish them quickly and don’t have the budget to buy books often, consider borrowing books from friends or getting a library card to begin checking out books for free.

6. Swap out other activities for reading.

Instead of watching TV for hours at a time, cut back on a few hours and dedicate it to reading more. This goes for any activity that you’re doing. If you notice that you spend a large chunk of time on one activity, then break that time up and devote it to reading.

7. Participate in reading challenges.

There are many fun and bookish reading challenges that are interactive and can make your reading experience more enjoyable. With these challenges, you can discover new books across many different genres and accomplish your reading goal one book at a time.

8. Feng shui your reading space.

Set up a comfortable and distracting free-zone so that you can read. Make sure you pick a place that’s quiet. Set your phone to do not disturb, turn your TV off, and dive into a book.

If you enjoy reading outdoors, follow the same practices. Music can help in this case too. Put on a calming song or anything to help you set the mood. And choose an ambiance that’s fitting to you.

9. Read multiple books at once.

This may not work for everybody, but it can be successful if done right.

Keep a different book around for a different occasion. If you’re reading a romance book one day, but then realize you want to read something a bit more humorous to pick you up after having a long day, then this technique might be the one for you.

Having a variety of books to read might keep you from getting bored. It’s ok to mix it up.

10. Read before bed.

Studies show that looking at a screen before going to bed lessens your sleep quality. So why not pick up a book instead? Read for 20-30 minutes before bed instead of looking at your phone or laptop so you can enjoy a couple of pages from a book, fall asleep faster, and wake up feeling well-rested in the morning.

11. Have your next book on standby.

Prepare a reading list of all the books you’ve come across or those that people have mentioned. This way, you’ll know what to get next once you finish your current book. Or better yet, go out and buy the books that you’re interested in so that once you finish your book you have another one readily available.

12. Set aside time to read.

Find some time to read in the mornings before work, during your lunch breaks, or right before bed. Even if you can’t devote a large portion of your time to reading every day, set aside 20-30 minutes daily. By doing this, you will likely increase your tolerance for reading. From there, work on increasing the time that you dedicate to reading each day.

13. Buy books on sale.

Let’s face it–books can get pretty expensive. Look out for discounts at bookstores. Or opt for used copies instead of new ones. Some bookstores have carts filled with discounted books that you can get for $1.

Free book are also available too. Enter giveaways for a chance to get a book. What do you have to lose? Keep your eyes open for books at discounted prices.

14. Start/join a book club.

Joining a bookclub introduces you to many books, including ones you probably thought you’d never read. You’ll get the chance to discuss and share your thoughts. It also forces you to stay on top of your reading.

You can search for bookclubs online. If you can’t physically go to one, consider digital bookclubs so that you can join from the comfort of your home.

15. Take notes when you’re reading.

Note taking while reading can improve your reading skills. It can help you better understand the author’s message or what’s going on in the book. It can also help you become better engaged with the text.

Whether you use Post-its or jot down your thoughts in the margins of a book, note taking will help increase your concentration and focus while reading.

16. Read in whatever order you choose.

While this strategy may not work for some, it is something to keep in mind when reading. Not all books are meant to be read from beginning to end. There are many books where you can start from any section.

If you ever started a book and wanted to get past a long intro or if you feel like one chapter of the book isn’t as important to you, then feel free to move around to any section that feels the most enjoyable to you.

What tips and tricks do you use to increase your reading habits?

– Tyanni Niles