Beginner’s Guide to Developing a Reading Habit

I seriously hate reading.

Like so many people, I hate reading books that have things to do with my academics.

I studied chemistry, but I was closer to my final year before I realized the course wasn’t for me – I never see the future of myself wearing lab coat.

70% of the time spent reading was always focused on how I wanted to start my own blog, help people, make a difference, have my own clothing line, and live a freedom lifestyle.

And please don’t ask why it took me so much years to finally realized what I wanted to spend the rest of my life doing, because I don’t know either.

So whenever I’m reading, I’m always lost in this thought to the extent that I will have to call back my attention to stay focused, every single time.

I found reading to be a very tedious task, especially when the only technique to pass was to cram the whole contents in the material – to give it back to the lecturer the way it was given to me.

The bottom line is, I only read when test or exam is fast approaching, but I have to do that with great focus and concentration.

I guess that was the reason why I came out with the best poor result.

Well, not that I totally hate reading. In fact I read every night and day, but I only read books that would make me become that kind of person I always imagined myself to be. Even though school curriculum gave no room for such self exploration.

I was the happiest guy on the day I wrote my last paper. While my coursemates were yelling, “no more reading, no more exams, blah blah blah,” I was there thinking it’s about time I earn my freedom – to follow my path and create the future I’ve always wanted.

And there was no other ways I could do that other than to start investing into my potential capital, through self-directed learning.

So if you’re thinking that this guide is all about building your reading habit so that you may pass exams or have good grades, I’m afraid I might fail you on that.

The reading habit I would be talking about here is that type of reading you do in order to build your potential, skill, talent, and spice up your lifelong learning.

And the type of books you will be reading ain’t obsolete academic materials. They are books that have been written specifically to help you.

Are you with me? Let’s dive in.

But before we do that, I have a discovery to share with you.

Ever since I started my reading challenge for this year, I’ve came across books where the authors stressed the value of lifelong learning.

Many people know the benefit of reading, but chose not to read.

And what has been my major concern is, “why have we refused to read?”

Over the pass few months, I’ve been advocating the benefits of reading. Talking about books to everyone I met. As a result, I have been able to gathered the reasons why people chose not to read.

Don’t panic when you found yourself among the list, you’re never alone, and I’m very sure this is going to change about you by the time you’re done reading this post.

That’s if you’re willing and to change.

8 Reasons Why People Don’t Read

1. Illiteracy

Illiteracy is one of the things stopping people from reading, and these people can be grouped into two categories:

  • Those who cannot read nor write.
  • And those who can read and write but ain’t doing it.

These two guys are illiterates. Because they gain nothing.

Reading is the wall that separates an illiterate from a literate. You’re therefore an illiterate if you can read but not reading.

Regardless of whether you go to school or not.

2. Wrong mindset

We always mistaken academics education with lifelong learning.

As a result, we placed too much concern on certification.

Meanwhile we never realized that lifelong learning is the only the education that contribute to our personal development. And we can only have such education outside the school wall.

3. Don’t believe in books

I have a friend who simply don’t believe in self-help or motivational books. I’ve forgotten the excuse he gave me.

But what I noticed about my relationship with this guy is that, it’s not like it used to be ever since I delved into self-development.

Now I seldom share my ideas or seek his opinion on any matter that arises, because he will always say something counterintuitive, obsolete, or contradictory.

Another thing about him is that, he’s always right, he never give in when he even knows he’s wrong. We’ve been friends for more than a decade now and I’ve never heard him say to himself that; “I guess I’m the one who’s wrong,” or tell me that; “You’re the one who’s right.”

He might have realized this himself if he read books, or if he’s more receptive or open to new ideas.

School will never teach you how to do this, but with lifelong learning you can start to transform your life through self-awareness. This can happen by reading the right book.

4. No time

This is the common excuse I’ve received so far.

It’s not about the time, but priority. There are many things I also don’t do, and if you ask me why, I will tell you I don’t have the time.

The truth is that everybody is always busy with one thing or the other– nobody has the time – but we need to always ask ourselves if what we chose as our priorities are things that matters, or things that contribute to our growth.

If you know how valuable it is to read, you will definitely create a time out of your busy schedule.

5. Reading create boredom

I’ve heard many people say this too. There’s no doubt that reading is boring, though not every time.

This might result from:

The book you’re reading

This could happen when the author has failed to engage his readers. Do not hesitate to drop a book when you find out that the book isn’t for you, or you can’t get a thing out of it.

Your present state of mind

Because you found a book to be boring doesn’t necessarily mean the book is boring.

This sometimes happened when the book you’re reading is taking longer than usual to finish, especially when you’re keen to finish the book in no time.

Other times, it might be that you’re not in the right state of mind. If you therefore found yourself in this state, just drop the book, take a walk or do something, and come back to it later.

And don’t use this as an excuse to procrastinate. It’s your job to know the exact reason why you found a book to be boring.

Aside those factors I’ve mentioned, you can also experience boredom when you’re just learning something new. You don’t have to drop the book in this case, just go slow.

6. Can’t waste money on books

There are some people who can’t buy books, but they would read when they see one.

It is true that books can be expensive at times, depending on your status.

If this is you and you really want to build your reading habit, keep reading, I’ve given you a better alternative to get you started.

The purpose isn’t just to read when you feel like it, but to be a self-directed learner. And be consistent with it.

7. Page phobia

The funniest excuse I’ve ever heard is the fear of page number. I could remember someone telling me he can’t read books with more than 20 pages. I don’t know if I should call this laziness.

I can’t imagine the number good books published with such page number. It’s just an excuse for saying “I don’t have time to read,” or “book is not important to my life.”

If this is truly you, I have explained in this guide the strategy that will help you overcome such phobia. And if you think reading isn’t for you, I urge you to (at least) make this article your last.

8. Naivety

Many people are unaware that books could solve many of their problems. They don’t know what self-help books look like. So they only read novels to kill boredom and entertain themselves. It’s not a bad thing though, it can’t help you with your lifelong education.

If you belong to this category, you shouldn’t have problem with reading, all you need is to re-establish your purpose for reading – not to only read for fun, but to also read for the sake of your own self-developmental growth.

This post will show you how to get the right book that will contribute to your personal growth.

But Why Should You Read?

If you’ve read this far, or if you’ve read this guide, I’m confident that you would have had a glimpse on the importance of reading. That reading is requisite to living a freedom lifestyle.

This post has covered the reasons why you should read.

But let me also give my take on this one too. Here’s is 3 reasons why I think you should read.

1. “Some things can’t be learn in school. Some things can BE learn better outside school. Some things can be learn without school.” – John Holt

The hard truth is that school never add to your potential capital. You entered and graduated from school without acquiring any valuable skill.

What John Holt refers to as “some things” are the essentials to live a remarkable life.

School will never teach you how to live your life, how to make the right decision, how to choose a life partner, how to start a family, and most importantly the necessary skills to survive this digital age.

School only teaches you the perfect way to be the best among the crowd – to have good grades so that you can have a better job.

And never forget that competition isn’t our goal right here, but to create.

So if you want to be self-dependent, to have your own business, live in your own terms, understand your religion, then reading shouldn’t be a problem. Because that’s the major channel through which you can develop yourself.

2. “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.” – Alvin Toffler

I’ve already said it in this post, but I’m still going to say it again.

Many of what you learned in school are obsolete.

Information keeps changing, and school still use the same old curriculum. None of those methods or strategies work anymore. New keys can’t open old doors.

You should rather follow the steps of someone who has achieved what you’re about to achieve, than to follow a business professor who knows all, but never start a thing.

To live a freedom lifestyle, you have to keep yourself abreast of the latest information.

3. Education – continuing education, continually honing and expanding the mind – is vital mental renewal… There is no better way to inform and expand your mind on a regular basis than to get into the habit of reading good literature. – Stephen Covey

Now I know you’re ready to build your reading habit and take charge of your own education. If I’m right, then let’s jump right in.



Before we get right in, it would be better we first understand how habit is formed.

In his book (The Power of Habit), Charles Duhigg defined habits as:

“The choices that all of us deliberately make at some point, and then stop thinking about but continue doing, often everyday.”

With this definition, I’m sure you already know exactly what we want to achieve. To make reading part of the daily activities.

But there are things that needs to be done before reading can be part of our daily routine.

Know what you want

James Clear said that “The key to building lasting habits is focusing on creating a new identity first. Your current behaviors are simply a reflection of your current identity. What you do now is a mirror image of the type of person you believe that you are (either consciously or subconsciously).”

As you know that we’re not doing this for the fun of it, and that you’re not just reading to become a reader, but to develop something about you – to create a new identity or to perfect your current identity.

So whatever book you want to read, you must have a specific purpose for picking it.

  • If you’re reading books on writing, you’re doing so because you want to become a writer.
  • If you’re reading books on business, you’re doing so because you want to be a remarkable business person.

To get this right, just start by listing out the identities you want to create for yourself, or your already created identity you want to make perfect.

Your list could go something like:

  • I want to discover my talent.
  • I want to develop a writing skills.
  • I want to learn how to make new friends.

It’s also not a bad thing if your purpose for learning is to teach it to other people, or for other people to benefit from it.

Just put anything you’ve been craving to learn, or habits you want to replace. No matter what’s on your list, I can bet you that a book has been written on it.

When you read with a specific purpose, it will equally help you to pick the right material and motivate you to read it through.

Search for the book online

This is going to save you time and equally help you pick the right book.

So if for instance you want to discover your talent, you can google-search something like: “books about talent.”

When I google-searched, below was what I got.

Books about talent

With this, you can read about those books one after the other. You can check up for things like:

  • Author’s biography
  • Book blurb
  • Summary
  • Review/Rating

You should be able to, at least, end up with 3 to 5 books, or more, that will catch your interest.

If you’re like me, I love to do what Mortimer J. Adler called “syntopical reading,” in his book (How to Read a Book). That is, reading more than one book on a single topic. This approach always makes me understand the subject better.

You might not necessarily need to do that, but I will advise you do.

Now go to the second item on your list and do the same thing by google-searching the book. And also do the same to the rest of the items on your list.

Even if you are to go to the book store to get your books, you would have already know what is it you want to buy.

Go for ebooks

You can start with ebooks, especially for those who cannot afford to buy books. Because you can get as many free ebooks as possible online and start reading them on your smartphones right away.

Most ebooks come in PDF or Epub format, therefore I will urge you to download both PDF and Epub reader on your smart phone.

I would recommend you download reader like Adobe Acrobat Reader for PDF and Lithium for Epub.

Some of the advantages of reading ebooks are:
  • You can download as many ebooks as you like without them adding to the weight of your smartphones.
  • You can read anywhere with ease.
  • eBooks is less expensive than paperback.
  • You don’t have to wait for days to get your books delivered, or step out from the comfort of your home to get them.
  • You can highlight and take note easily.

Another important reason why I recommend starting with ebooks is that you can download as many free ebooks available online. Thereby having as many books as possible in your download file.

This will help you avoid the excuse of not having books in your library by the time you start cultivating your reading habit.

4 Sites to Download Free Ebooks

Another method to get free ebook is to google-search for it directly. When you do this, make sure you add “dot pdf” (.pdf) at the end of your search query.

For example; How to read a book by Mortimer J. Adler.pdf

If you search for the above book, you should be able to download it for free.

Though the chances of getting free ebooks with this method is very slim. Except if the book was written more than a decade ago.

But why bother yourself – ebooks are always affordable.

Now to the main business.


How to develop a reading habit

Schedule a perfect time for reading

As a beginner, your aim is to build a momentum. Therefore you have to schedule a perfect time for reading and stick to it without breaking it.


  • What’s your perfect time?
  • How many minutes or hours can you devote to reading per day?
  • And how many days in a week?

What’s most important is to master the art of showing up everyday. And there’s no other ways to achieve this than to start small.

The amount of time you want to spend reading everyday can be placed on two factors.

Time Factor

I wouldn’t want you to set a schedule you will find very difficult to follow through. Don’t forget it’s a lifelong learning, so you don’t need to take more than you can swallow.

5 minutes a day isn’t bad for a start. The important thing is to stick with it in order to build a momentum, so that reading will become part of your daily routine.

And never make the mistake of wanting to finish a whole book in one or two sittings – you don’t need that for now.

In fact never think about how you want to finish the book, but focus on showing up everyday and sticking to your schedule. Build the routine and the habit will formed automatically.

Your goal is simply to read, no matter how small.

And before you know it, 15 minutes devoted to reading per day will start to graduate to 30 minutes, 1 hour, and so on.

Page-Number Factor

This is another alternative method you could take to build your reading habit, and it’s my favorite reading method. With page number, or number of chapters contained in the book, I can predict the time it will take me to finish a book.

But as a starter, instead of predicting the time to finish a book, your job is to focus on the number of pages you can consume per day, based on your schedule.

Focus on the process, not the result. Start with something that won’t strain you, even when you don’t have the energy.

For instance, if you can start with 10 pages per day (5 pages in the morning, another 5 pages at night), for one month, that means you would have read more than 1 book.

Do not worry if it’s going to take you a month to finish a book. You know you’re just cultivating the habit, and with time it’s going to change. Just make sure you read at your scheduled time– everyday.

I know showing up everyday can be a difficult thing to do, especially when you’re cultivating a new habit. But here’s how to go about it.

How to always show up on new habit

Consistency plays a major role when it comes to habit formation. You have to consistently show up in order to make your new habit stick.

The following will help for show up.

Have a special place for your reading

Since you’re doing this to develop yourself, it would be advisable you have a separate place (either a corner in your house or a special table). This will help you stay focused and more engaged.

Connect your reading with your daily activities

For instance if you choose to read after taken breakfast, then always have a book right next to you on the table while you’re eating.

Lunch break could be your own perfect time.

Because I don’t have my own car yet, public transport is always an opportunity for me to do my reading.

I read while I wait for the passenger to fill up in the commercial transport bus. I read while stuck inside the traffic.

Those are the major reasons why I prefer e-book, because I don’t need to carry books around. I do everything with my smart phone.

Connect with readers like you

It is good when you have people expecting you to show up.

This is easy with the help of the Internet. Platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, and GoodReads all have groups created where reader can connect. Just search for book-related groups and join them.

Participating in this kind of groups will enhance your reading prowess and challenge you to read more.

You can also join a book club in your neighborhood. If you can’t find any, create one and invite people to join.

Have a reminder

We get carried away at times, especially when our new habit hasn’t yet become part of our daily routine.

It is however advisable to have a reminder. You can tell a close friend or your spouse to remind you of your scheduled time.

Another alternative is to set a reminder on your smartphones. I advise you set two reminders, just to make sure you don’t forget: One to remind you 30 or 15 minutes before your scheduled time. And the second reminder should be set on the exact time.

Share and Implement

Knowledge is useless without action, and only knowledge that is put to use is power.

So how do you plan to implement it?

This is the most important question to ask yourself. Just think of how you’re going to add value to people with what you’ve learned or what you are learning.

You can share it with your Facebook friends. You can start something around it. I mean, just do anything you think is best for other to benefit from you.

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