I hear from a lot of people that they’re looking to read more, but don’t know how to get started. Maybe you’re one of these people who feel the pull to read but find yourself falling short of that goal.

I’ve been there. In the few years after my college graduation my reading really declined.

These are tactics I’ve used to remove obstacles for reading. And I’m writing these out now cause you know what, I’m falling behind a bit in 2022. Let’s beat it together. GIDDYUP.

Make Reading A Game

Goodreads. Get on there start a reading challenge, add me as a friend. Join right now and see if you can set a goal for yourself and beat it. I’ve definitely gone through some tiny books just to meet goals.

Start with Audiobooks

This is cheating if you’re a weird purist about what it means “to read.” I’m no such purist. Also that view’s arguably ableist. But let’s keep it light. I think audiobooks are a great way to pick up some extra reading, especially to start getting back into reading.

If you want a convenient fast paid way to get into reading while lining the pockets of a megacorporation, Audible does work. You pay a monthly fee, get one book a month, and can buy more for a discounted price.

If you’re willing to do a little leg work look into your local library and see if with a library card comes the ability to check out audiobooks (I wrote a guide here). The Los Angeles Public Library has a partnership with this app OverDrive that lets you add books to your waitlist, bookmark books you want to come back to, or download immediately books that are available. For new and popular titles you’ll likely have to wait a little. If you’re incredibly impatient Audible may be better for you.

What’s great about audiobooks is that you can listen anywhere. I listen while I’m exercising, walking my dog, doing chores, driving to work or sometimes I even listen just sitting around. It’s a passive easy way to get into reading, can be quite affordable, and totally counts. And may help you get more motivated to read more.

Leave A Book in Your Bathroom

Alright, this is goofy but it works. Leave a book in your bathroom. I recommend something that comes in bite sizes pieces you can easily start and stop without missing a beat. Jerry Seinfeld’s Is This Anything. Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations. A lot of Ryan Holiday Books.

It’s wasted time you’re making waste and honestly better than most things you’re looking at on your phone.

Two warnings with this method:
  1. There’s a chance someone will open up your book that’s not you. If this grosses you out, perhaps skip.
  2. The humidity of most bathroom showers will warp books. A lot of my bathroom books I’ve read I end up throwing away, especially hard covers. So don’t do this to any book that you may feel is precious.

Leave a Book on Your Pillow

Trick yourself into reading when you go to bed by placing a book on your pillow. The night stand doesn’t work. The shelf doesn’t work. The little side caddies that I always see on Amazon that’s marketed as a great place to put your book don’t work. Put it on your pillow. You’ll be forced to pick it up at night as you’re going to bed. Sometimes even the physical contact with a book will be enough to spark desire to read.

Now, again, I recommend books with short chapters, and things that may not cause stress or anxiety. Or things you don’t have to chew on real hard.

When you finish reading for the night, I recommend placing your book on top of your phone. When you wake up, pick up your phone, place that book back on your pillow.

Make it Social

Ok, I’ve never done this cause I’m not social, but if you’ve got a group of friends that might be into this, start a book club. I’ve known a few that have found this to be quite successful.

Quit Books Quickly

Ok, now you’ve got some momentum going, you’ve got some easy wins for books, you’ve scattered a few around your house, it’s a bit of a game. Now, let’s get into some counter intuitive advice.

If you start reading a book and it’s just not for you abandon it. It’s ok. No one will judge you The number of people I hear who get caught up in the feeling that they MUST to finish a book once they’ve started stresses me out. We’re not in high school any more. If you don’t like a book, no one will fail you to give up on it. If a book doesn’t resonate fairly quickly you need to move on to something you’ll enjoy.

I’ve given up books in less than 5 pages. That wasn’t me being dumb. It was me making space for a book I’d enjoy. That’s ok.

Give up on books you don’t like. All the books you don’t like are taking up precious time for books that you would like. And worse, they’re making you think you don’t like reading. Everyone loves this classic book and it’s tedious to you? That’s ok, get out of there, it wasn’t for you. Or maybe it’s just not for you right now.

Start with Great Books

The history of literature includes a lot of very good books. One sure fire way to find a book you’ll like is look through top lists. Many books survive the test of time for a reason. Goodreads has a top list. As does the New York Times. And probably plenty of other people and publications with opinions.

Get Someone to Recommend Books To You

But, if you wanna get really fancy think of authors you like, or celebrities you like, or entrepreneurs or anyone you like, and find out what books they like. There are some people who when they recommend books I always listen, because they always give good recommendations for me. The trick is just figuring out who that person is. If someone’s constantly reading and recommending Russian mellow dramas, odds are their recommendations mean nothing to me. But, if they’re running through tons of business books and memoirs and self help and history, and they happen to be kind of a weirdo like me, their recommendations may work for me.

Find someone who’s your reading soulmate, follow their recommendations.

Side note, Ryan Holiday’s email list is not too frequent and I believe roughly monthly he kicks over a list of 4-10 books that he liked. And they’re usually pretty good in my view.

Go To a Bookstore

I think bookstores are inspiring. I don’t know why. I feel like a more interesting person having gone to them. I recommend going once in a while, look around, notice the books with their covers out. Be superficial. Check out books who’s covers you like. Browse sections for things you’ve never thought to read. Look at the other books written by authors you like. See the books on sale. See the staff recommendations. Pick up the new releases. See if there are any events where an authors coming to speak at the store.

Heck, buy a book. Double points if it’s an independent bookshop. Maybe you don’t find anything for you, but that’s ok.

Hard to know what you’re missing if you’re not getting into the world of books and seeing what they have.

Also, one thing I did to consistently at a long ago job was step out of my day job, and go take a break at the Barnes and Nobel in the mall, and sit and read chapters of Malcolm Gladwell books. In fact, I did complete a good number of books that way. All the more awesome considering I was on the clock.

Sit down and read a book at the store for a little, maybe it gets you excited. Great. Great.

Go To A Library

All the same applies from the book store, with just a slightly weirder vibe. I love libraries, and I think librarians are cool. And there are a lots of great buildings housing libraries.

Talk To People About Books

How do you know if someone’s running a marathon? Don’t worry, they’ll tell you.

Ok, so the joke is marathon people are kinda bragging. But, they worked hard for it and god damn it, they want those kudos.

You should get those kudos for reading books. If you read something, and it’s interesting and relevant to people, bring it up! Maybe they’ve read it. Maybe they’re interested in the same subject. Maybe they’ve got a follow up recommendation. Talk to people about them. I’ve been lucky in that I know a few people who like to talk about books and it makes it so much easier to feel like it’s a normal and cool thing to do.

Everyone talks about TV shows, not enough people talk about books. You’ll like it.

Don’t Beat Yourself Up

No book is unworthy of reading.

No amount of reading is too little.

No amount of books given up on is a failure.

No lack of understanding of themes or deeper means you can’t enjoy a book.

I think for many people school taught us we were unworthy of reading. I know I left high school feeling unworthy of books. The optometrist ad in The Great Gatsby meant what? Oh… Well it was hard for me to get through… Shakespeare, hard to understand what a lot of it means, I’m missing some pretty important color.

That’s fine. Reading is personal. You’re not getting graded on this. Your quality as a human being isn’t measured in books.

In the year where I did the most reading I’ve ever done, I felt so good about myself to finish 100 books. That same year I had a friend finish 312 books. I was gobsmacked. But their prolific reading didn’t invalidate what I read. And no other person’s reading will invalidate yours.


Get out there. Read some books. I hope you find something you like, and if you do, share it!

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