Discover how to find page-turning books, unmissable reads, and develop sustainable reading habits at any age
The older we get, the easier it is to forget to make time for reading. Nearly a third (31%) of us Brits don’t read in our free time, rising to nearly half (46%) of young adults aged 16-24. Research has suggested that those of us who don’t read are 28% more likely to report feelings of depression, whereas those who read regularly for pleasure report fewer feelings of stress as well as a stronger sense of relaxation.
Still not convinced? Studies have shown that those who read for pleasure have higher levels of self-esteem, a greater ability to cope when faced with difficult situations or tough life events, and are more likely to have better sleeping patterns. Reading for just 30 minutes each week can make us 20% more likely to be more satisfied with life.
Embracing literature can have a profound effect on our overall sense of wellbeing and relaxation, yet as with many kinds of self-care, we just don’t always prioritise it. If you find yourself struggling to pick up a book, scrolling through social media when you should be relaxing, or feeling overwhelmed and unsure how to kickstart regular, consistent reading habits, our friends at The Reading Agency share nine simple tips to help get you started.
1. Browse books
Look online, in libraries or bookshops and spend time reading reviews and book blogs to help you decide. If you aren’t sure where to start, finding highly recommended books can be a good way to ease you in and help you find something that catches your interest from the outset.
2. Ask someone you know
Ask a friend, family member or colleague to recommend a book they love. Hearing someone’s recommendation in person can help you to identify what about the book appeals to you, as well as starting conversations about what other books you may enjoy in the future.
Having a reading buddy, or someone to talk with about the book you are reading can also help encourage you to keep going if you are finding things tough.
3. Try short reads
If the thought of finishing a full-blown novel or non-fiction book feels daunting, try and choose a short story, poem or novella. These are great forms for developing a reading habit because you can finish or come close to finishing one on the commute to and from work.
4. Read anything
It doesn’t matter what kind of book you read. Reading for pleasure is about finding a book that works for you – whether it’s a short story, a classic novel or a comic book. Don’t get caught up with ideas around what you ‘should’ be reading, or what you should enjoy; everyone is different. Find what kind of books get you excited, and embrace them - no matter what genre or format.
5. Remember - it’s OK to stop
If you don’t like the book you’ve started reading, it’s OK to move onto a different one. The world is full of incredible books and there is something out there for everyone, so the most important thing is that you enjoy it.
Pushing to try and finish a book that just isn’t working for you can leave you feeling frustrated. If you’re finding yourself slowing down or unable to enjoy the book you’re currently reading, try switching things up and picking up another book. You can always come back to finish the other title later. It isn’t like assigned reading at school; you can take a break or stop reading altogether.
6. Explore different parts of the library
From fiction to history to self-help, libraries are incredibly varied places. If you’re stuck in a reading rut, try and explore a new section that you aren’t as familiar with. Challenge yourself to read something outside of your comfort zone – you never know what you might get into.
7. Find a hero
Read about someone you admire – for example, if you are a sports fan why not pick up a biography of your favorite sporting hero? Or if you’re a fan of a particular actor, why not see if you can find a list of their favourite books online and give them a go?
8. Think of a film
Read the book that inspired your favourite film – if you like the plot line and characters, it’s likely you’ll enjoy reading the story. Or, consider the kinds of TV programmes and films you like and keep an eye out for similar books. If you’ve already read the book that inspired the film, many sites like GoodReads and Amazon offer recommendations for similar titles.
9. Don’t rush
Reading a few pages a day is great. Don’t worry if you’re too busy one evening, or if your book is taking you a few weeks to finish. If you’re enjoying it you will get to the end – and it will be worth it.
Looking for inspiration on where to find your next read? Check out this year’s range of diverse fiction, poetry, non-fiction, and young-adult literature for World Book Night. Discover top mood-boosting books (as recommended by experts), try these five books to reduce stress, or find out more about our favourite LGBTQ+ inclusive books.