5 ways to kick start and feed your reading habit


“Not all readers are leaders but all leaders are readers” ~ Harry S. Truman

For a lot of people, reading is ‘boring’. To them, books remind them of something they ‘had to do’ at school. Until recently, I didn’t realize the extent people actually rejected reading, as if it was something to avoid. I’ve seen dozens of facebook profiles with “don’t read” or even a “you’re joking” in the favorite books box.

Do these people know how much they’re missing out? I mean, what about all that fantastical adventures, beautiful romances, emotional turmoils, romances, tears and guilt? What about all the battles, betrayals, heroes and villains of the past that you haven’t heard of? What about all the fascinating things about the world that you don’t yet know about? From reading, you can learn the lessons of geniuses, revolutionaries and from the greatest leaders of all time. So the real question isn’t “why should I read”, it’s “why shouldn’t I?”

how to develop a reading habit

1. Know where to start. If you’re not already an avid reader, you might feel a little overwhelmed at the choice of books available. In that case, why not try some reliable lists, for example:

2. Get it cheap. You don’t have to spend a lot of money at all. Never pay RRP for a book. My first point of call is always Amazon, but the Book Depository is usually cheaper for new books and worldwide delivery is free. Of course there’s also the library, charity shops, sites like Paperback Swap. If you know people who read, you can borrow or swap with your friends, family and even professors (who are especially helpful with hard to obtain/expensive books in your field).

3. Read everyday. Even if it’s only for a few minutes, it will all add up week by week. Always try to have a book handy somewhere to pull out when you’re standing in line or sitting on the bus. Or you can keep a book by your bed to relax you into sleep (not put you to sleep!). I usually look forward to evenings when I block out a bit of time, make a warm cup of tea and snuggle in my duvet with a good book for a few hours. Even the thought of it makes me smile 🙂

4. Aim. You could read casually or you could set up a goal. If you choose a field, by reading one book on it a week, you can become an ‘international expert’ within few years. If that’s a little too much, you can easily make up your own goal such as two books a month (1 book per 14 days), or twenty books a year (about 1 book per 20 days). By having an aim, you can more easily write/decide your list(s) and possibly get through many more books than you would otherwise.

5. Balance and diversify. Almost everyone has a subject/genre that they are really interested in. It doesn’t have to be an ‘academic’ subject either. Whatever it is, choose it and read as many books as you can find about it. However, you should also have a go at something completely different – how do you know you won’t like it until you’ve tried it? Why not wonder into a completely different part of the library, randomly picking up a book and reading the blurb or first page? You never know, you may discover a new passion. The key is to balance depth and breadth.

So, try not to think of reading as a chore. It’s not homework. It’s not work at all. It expands your horizons, pushes your imagination and can change your life. Don’t miss out, kick start your reading habit today.

“There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate’s loot on Treasure Island” – Walt Disney

Do you have any more ideas on how to read more? Or any book recommendations? Or maybe you’d like to share what you’re reading right now? Please comment below!

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PS. Minimal Student’s twitter is going through a change. Very soon you can get book recommendations, interesting blog links as well as instant MS blog updates!

  • Jessica – your blog is truly inspiring. As a fellow university student (and aspiring minimalist) myself, I find your words increasingly refreshing with each new post that I read. It takes somebody special in today’s technology-driven society to enjoy the simplest pleasures most oft take for granted. For example, I love that you smile just thinking about cuddling up with a book and a steaming cup of tea. You’re not alone in that :-). Thanks for yet another great post.


    ps. Do you go to school in the states?

    • Jessica from Minimal Student

      Hey Nick, you’re totally right, it takes a lot of effort to overcome the clutches of TV and the internet to enjoy simple things like reading a good book and going for walks.

      Thank you, your comment really brightened up my day! It’s good to know my hard work is appreciated 🙂

      PS. I go to uni in the UK, hence my occasional American/British spelling switchovers!

  • Di

    I’ve always enjoyed reading; it’s one of my favorite things to do. I too smile at just the thought of snuggling with a cup of tea and a good book. My friends are amazed at how much I read and the information I gleam. The day is not complete unless I’ve read at least a chapter. My DH is also an avid reader. One year the job he had was so slow that he read just shy of 250 books! You did a fantastic job of encouraging readers by expounding on the benefits as well as the enjoyment of reading. Thank you.

    • Jessica from Minimal Student

      Hi Di, I know how you feel, I can’t go a day without reading just a little. If I don’t, I get a feeling like I’ve forgotten something important!

      And wow that is a lot of reading! I guess it was kind of a good thing that he could read on the job (and be paid for it), that sounds ideal to me 🙂

  • Alexandro Moreno

    i think keeping a book nearby is always good, and not 5 books. I’ve made that mistake. No, one book is enough and stick with it. 10 or 15 minutes a day of focused attention can train your brain for greater feats of concentration.
    keep up the good work.

    • Jessica from Minimal Student

      Hello Alexandro!

      Yes, I have to admit, I used to be a notorious book multi-tasker. I used to have half a dozen books going at the same time! But recently, I’ve realized I should put more of an effort into finishing books instead of starting them, so to help, I began writing a nice big list so that I can visually see which books I’ve started, and when I finish one, I can cross it off. It really does the trick!

  • I used to love reading, but since I started University I find myself reading much less for pleasure. A good way to get into reading is to read novels, I find [though I read more non-fiction than fiction, it’s easier to get into a book if it has a story, in my opinion].

    It always inspires me to remember that the thoughts, emotions, experiences and knowledge of millions of people are contained in books. If you want to experience; to learn, to love or hate, to feel and to dwell on philosophy; I’d suggest you read.

    • Jessica from Minimal Student

      Hi Rose, I hope you’re well!

      I know what you mean, a lot of people say that fictional books are a waste of time, but I disagree. Some of them are indispensable because they can show you the things you just mentioned; the emotions and experiences of other people from a different time and place, how is that not educational?

      It’s so good to hear from you again!

  • gilberto

    You describe the many pleasures you get from reading, which I definitely agree with but I always had difficulty finding literature that would leave me thinking and philosophizing once I’m finished.
    Same idea with movies. They’re great, you’ll get excited over the good ones for a few days, and then you forget about them. Have they enriched your life? Not really.

    I’m not denouncing movies and fiction, de-stressing and killing time is OK, but reading fiction and even nonfiction just isn’t necessary.

    I myself read the news, am subscribed to the New Yorker, and just read and research about pretty much anything that interests me. Science, philosophy, religion, politics, etc.

    • Jessica

      Hi gilberto!

      Thanks for your comment. Yes I agree it can be very easy to forget the things you read, and not all books are exactly life changing. But I do believe that there is something you can learn from almost every book, and to help me remember them, I keep a reading notebook (check out the related post link if you’re interested!).

    • wase


  • Jessica,

    I guess we must have crossed our telepathic paths, as I wrote recently about benefits of reading. I love reading a lot. When I was doing No spend month challenge, I still bought books (used) but I had to buy some. You are right books are amazing and thanks for other links, some of them I read it and other I will soon.

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  • Chris

    They say knowledge is power so I will start reading books 🙂

  • Jake

    Hey Jessica,

    Just found your blog and it is great. Thought you might get a kick out of this video:

    It was actually written as a commentary on modern leaders and as a response to Truman’s quote (one of my favourites).

  • edgar asiimwe

    its wonderful to me.now i know how to read

  • Mohammed

    i’m new reader and i find reading is very interesting. i love to read english books though its not my language. i face some difficulties but im still persist to keep going in an english language only.

  • Actually this is exactly what I needed right now. I love a good trip to the bookstore (STRAND here in NYC is great!), but always find myself overwhelmed with the selection and typically walk out empty-handed, a bit stressed, and questioning if I’d even finish a book anyway! #MillenialProblems with our short Twitter-140 character attention spans hehe.

    But, like I was saying, this post is exactly the inspiration I needed to find some great books; thanks for the recommendation of the 30 books to read before turning 30.

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