How to Get Back into Reading

Shandra Martinez

| 4 min read

A good book can do the world of good
Maybe you were a bookworm growing up. The kind of kid who had a small stack of books on their nightstand for an easy grab-and-read session right before bed or during a lazy afternoon. Or maybe you haven’t read a book since you graduated grade school. In either case – you might be trying to figure out what happened. Here are some easy ways to get back into regular reading.
According to the stats. It’s not likely your love for books, novels and magazines just evaporated. As people’s lives evolve, so do their responsibilities. Careers, family and other interests can push aside hobbies that used to fill hours for our younger selves. If you haven’t found yourself cracking open a book cover lately, you’re not alone. Some quick facts about reading in the United States:
  • Only about 64% of adults say they’ve read a book in the last year, according to the Pew Research Center. This figure has held steady for the last few years.
  • Literary reading, too, is on a lengthy downward trend. A National Endowment for the Arts report showed that in 1992, 56% of adults said they had read at least one book that could be considered literature in the past year. By 2014, that number had fallen to 46%.
  • Among people 18 to 24 years old, only 36% said they’ve read literature.
  • When you look at how much time people are spending with books, a federal survey on time use showed people 15 years and older spent about 9 minutes a day reading in 2014. A few years later, that had dropped to 7 minutes a day.
Benefits of reading. For a lot of people, the benefits of reading are multi-faceted. Reading true-life stories are informative. History themes and biographical books are interesting and make us smarter. Fiction and poetry inspire creativity. In short, reading makes us think and it’s great exercise for our brains. It also falls under the wide umbrella of self-care.
Tips for getting back in the habit. Much like physical exercise, reading happens more when we deliberately make time for it. Here are some ways you can set yourself up for getting back into reading:
Create a space. Yes, you can read in bed or during a break at work. But when you’re at home, it helps to create a space that you think of as perfect for reading. If it’s a favorite couch or chair, outfit the area with comfortable pillows and a cozy throw blanket. Or create a little reading nook by adding a table where you can keep your books. It can have a reading light, bookmarks, and a place to set your tea or other beverage.
A buffet of books. If you’re purchasing books or checking them out at your local library, get more than one – even if you think you won’t have time to finish it. This gives you another option in case you don’t like the book you’ve chosen. Never slog through an uninteresting book. Set it aside and reach for a better one.
Time to read. Add reading to your to-do list, just like you would other things that are good for you. It’s a great thing to do in the evenings instead of scrolling on your phone or watching TV. Blue light from tech devices can keep you up, but a book can ease you into your bedtime routine.
Audio books. Do these count as reading? You bet they do. If you’re not a physical hold-the-book-and-read person, try listening to an audio book in the car, on the treadmill or when you’re out for a walk or running errands. These can be checked out from a library app or downloaded online.
Read online. Some people prefer to read their books via a tablet, a download on their laptop or another device. That’s fine, too. Often these are just as portable as regular books, and you can read whenever you have spare time. 
Book clubs. Reading does not have to be a solitary experience. If you want to talk about the books you’re reading, join a book club or reading group. Some of these are local groups that meet at libraries or coffee shops. Others are online groups that have regular chats. Either way, you’re spending time with book lovers.
Photo credit: Getty Images

A Healthier Michigan is sponsored by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, a nonprofit, independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association.
No Personal Healthcare Advice or Other Advice
This Web site provides general educational information on health-related issues and provides access to health-related resources for the convenience of our users. This site and its health-related information and resources are not a substitute for professional medical advice or for the care that patients receive from their physicians or other health care providers.
This site and its health-related information resources are not meant to be the practice of medicine, the practice of nursing, or to carry out any professional health care advice or service in the state where you live. Nothing in this Web site is to be used for medical or nursing diagnosis or professional treatment.
Always seek the advice of your physician or other licensed health care provider. Always consult your health care provider before beginning any new treatment, or if you have any questions regarding a health condition. You should not disregard medical advice, or delay seeking medical advice, because of something you read in this site.