From a very early age, I enjoyed reading books. I remember reading a lot of Hardy Boys, Encyclopedia Brown, Tom Swift and I had developed a great fascination with greek mythology (starting with Hercules and his twelve labours, all the way to The Odyssey). Reading, for me, was not like it is now where I am trying to learn more about subjects that I am interested in but it was more of a past time. Oh and I remember I was into a lot of unsolved mysteries too which scared the heck out of me at night but I could not help but speculate what happened.

But as it happens with probably a lot of people, you get busy. You have a full time job. You have access to instant entertainment on your phone, tablet, TV or computer. People ask you all the time how your weekend was, expecting you to answer with something, anything. And you can’t help but feel that you have to lead a ‘go go go’ life. I’m not saying that the people around me think that reading books is boring but saying that you read a book for the weekend may not be the best way to start and have an interesting conversation.

Probably about five years ago, I was actually not reading very much at all – most of my free time was spent gaming or working out. Nowadays, I average 4 – 5 books a month, and read 50+ books a year. But how did I go from not reading at all to reading almost a book a week? Here’s how:

Start small

From B.J. Fogg’s course, Tiny Habits, one of the best ways to start a habit is to start extremely small. There are a lot of reasons for this as I am learning reading James Clear’s Atomic Habits – you want to start small so that you are successful most of the time – this means that rather than reading a book a month, you want to set an even smaller goal – reading for 5 minutes. If that feels like it’s too much, set the goal as reading for 1 minute (and on and so forth). Setting a small goal will not only make you successful, but every time you read, even if it’s just 1 minute, your mindset will adjust from “I’m not a reader” to “I read every day”. And of course, when you do it enough, you will find that reading 1 minute is not enough and that you will want to read more.

Have books everywhere

When you get bored, what do you reach for first? Your phone? Tablet? If you leave books everywhere, it might not help with the habit of reading books but you will think twice about picking up that phone when you have a spare moment and picking up that book instead. In my home, I leave books almost everywhere – it’s almost a way of reminding me how much I have to read and what I can learn. And by everywhere, I mean everywhere – I have some books in the car (so that if you are stuck in traffic, waiting to pick someone up, heading to a restaurant with long wait times), I also can use that time in a productive manner.

Oh and a funny tip that I picked up a long time ago – if you are reading a book in public, make sure that it is a great book because if you suddenly die, there will be news everywhere saying that you died while reading book X.

Choose books

Having books everywhere will help you make better decisions on what to do when you are bored. Don’t reach for that remote. Don’t reach for your phone to check social media. Don’t start up your computer to play that video game. Reach instead for that book that you have been meaning to read. When there is nothing else around you except your smart phone, it is really easy to get lost in that rabbit hole in your smart phone. I have books on my smartphone, audio book CDs in the car and if I am doing anything that I don’t need to really think and concentrate, I’ll be listening to a book or a podcast at the very least.

Read about subjects that you like

I got into books when I was really young – I mean it helped that we didn’t have the ubiquity of internet and smartphones at the time but I for whatever reason had an extreme interest in mysteries and mythologies and I remember going to the library and going to specific shelves to see what new books that I could find.

Nowadays, if I feel like I need to improve something about myself or my life, I just figure out what that topic is and go onto the internet to find the 10 – 20 best books on the subject. For example, I was at one point worried about my finances and building wealth so I went onto the internet to find the best books on the subject and then went to my library to put those books on hold. Reading is certainly not the only thing you have to do but it will give you such a head start and it is something that is relatively inexpensive (if you borrow books from the library) and has numerous benefits.

You don’t have to finish books

One of my favourite podcasts is Three Books by Neil Pasricha and in it, he says that one of the rules is no book shaming. Part of that is not judging anyone for a book that they read but also to not have to worry about not finishing a book if you really cannot get through it or do not like it.

I can say that I had a very hard time with this when I was younger – I had this rule in my head that I would not move on to other books until I completely finished a book. I realized though that reading books that I didn’t like made me have less time to read the books that I did like and so now I read multiple books at a time, reading from the book that interests me at the time and then dropping it for another at a moment’s notice.

Take notes

I love looking back at some of my book notes and figuring out what I learned from the book and how I can apply it to my own life. In fact, if you do not do this, you really are not spending valuable time reading non-fiction books because if you are not going to change after reading a book that expects you to change (your actions, your mindset, your way of thinking), then why read the book in the first place?

Re-reading is also reading

I have a few friends who think that re-reading a book does not count. I disagree wholeheartedly! One of my favourite quotes, which I’m sure I will quote wrong, but it is to the tune of “No man steps into the same river twice. For it is not the same river and he is not the same man”. As I re-read different books, I find that I get different things out of them each time I read them. It’s not so much that the book has changed (or at least I somehow hope that the words have not changed while they were on my shelf) but it is that I have changed – my perspective has changed or my way of thinking has changed (and hopefully for the better).

There you have it, there’s seven things that I do to build a habit of reading more books. Let me ask you, what do you do to read more books? What are some of strangest things that you do to read? Do you prefer reading from your smartphone? Tablet? Do you have an e-reader? Let me know in the comments below.