Learn about good reading habits for adults, students, and college students to develop here. These are the habits of good readers that you can copy to actually make a difference in your own reading life.
(While these book reading habits are based on my experiences as an avid adult reader of 100+ books per year, as well as the book reading habits I have noticed in other avid adult readers, they may also apply to children.)
The word “habit” is one that’s buzzworthy. To me, it’s all about those things that are so ingrained in us that they are part of our being, doing, and existing in daily human life. It’s the things we do naturally and without much thought. For many, it’s that first cup of coffee when you wake up or brushing your teeth right before bed.
But, what’s also implied in the word “habit,” and why it garners so much buzz, is the power it holds in self-improvement. Indeed, James Clear, the bestselling author of the massively popular self-help book Atomic Habits, says that “Habits are the compound interest of self-improvement.”
While it’s clear that good habits can make us better people, what exactly does Clear mean? He describes it in more detail in Atomic Habits in this quote:
“All big things come from small beginnings. The seed of every habit is a single, tiny decision. But as that decision is repeated, a habit sprouts and grows stronger. Roots entrench themselves and branches grow. The task of breaking a bad habit is like uprooting a powerful oak within us. And the task of building a good habit is like cultivating a delicate flower one day at a time.”
So, good habits are all about achieving bit results from small efforts over long periods of time.
What are reading habits?
When it comes to reading habits, this begs a few questions:
Reading is a good habit for adults because it has so many life changing benefits, from teaching you new things to improving your communication, reducing stress, helping you sleep better, increasing your empathy, helping you solve problems, expanding your worldview, helping you focus better, and even entertaining you.
The best reading habit is the commitment to read something every day, or as many days as possible. Indeed, many of the most successful people in the world read every day, including Warren Buffet and Mark Cuban, and attribute their success in great part to this habit.
Examples of reading habits include setting reading goals, maintaining a “to be read” list, keeping a book with you at all times, reading every day, tracking your reading progress, engaging with other readers, and re-evaluating and readjusting your reading needs.
Now that you know more about what habits and reading habits are, and why they matter, let’s explore more closely the types of good reading habits that avid readers regularly do. As mentioned, these book reading habits are based on my experiences as an avid adult reader of 100+ books per year, as well as the book reading habits I have noticed in other avid adult readers.
Good Reading Habits
I look at the topic of good reading habits really as the answer to the question, “What do good readers do regularly?” So, these are exactly those things.
Setting Reading Goals
The first step to success in anything often begins with a goal. This gives you both accountability and motivation.
It’s common for avid readers to set yearly and/or monthly reading goals to read more books, but you can get creative with the types of reading goals you set for yourself, such as reading more of a particular genre or lending more books from the library so you spend less on your reading habit.
Maintaining a “To Be Read” List
Avid readers are also known for keeping a list of what to read next. Having ideas of what to read next can help you anticipate finishing your current read, as well as help you avoid periods in which you don’t read simply because you don’t know what to read.
So, the next time you hear about a good book, write it down so you don’t forget about it! Again, I like to track my reading list on Goodreads (digital format) and with my Reading Journal (physical format). I especially love to pencil in new books and their release dates, so I can scoop them up on their publication date.
Still need help getting started? You can batch your research in advance based on anything from your favorite genre or author to books to fit various moods or book recommendations from sources you trust, like perhaps a celebrity book club!
Keeping a Book With You At All Times
Trust avid book reader Rory Gilmore of Gilmore Girls on this one:
“I just take a book with me everywhere. It’s a habit.”
Part of creating and maintaining any habit is setting yourself up for success. When it comes to a reading habit, this means always having a book on hand so that you can take advantage of pockets of free time that pop up in your life, like getting stuck in a line.
The good news is you can easily do this via ebooks and audiobooks on your phone, which likely is always with you anyway! I like to remember to carry my AirPods with me since I love audiobooks and can sneak in a bit of extra time with them this way.
Reading Every Day
There’s no doubt about it: good readers read every day (or as often as possible).
This goes back to a few things I said earlier. First, habits are those things that are so ingrained in us that they are part of our being, doing, and existing in daily human life. They are the things we do naturally and without much thought.
Second, many of the most successful people in the world read every day, including Warren Buffet and Mark Cuban, and attribute their success in great part to this habit.
Since my husband goes to bed earlier than me, I have a habit of picking up my book as he’s walking up the stairs. This has become second nature, and it helps me avoid getting distracted by things like the tv or my phone.
And, in case anyone needs to hear it, you don’t need large pockets of time to be a daily reader. Even one page is better than zero pages. With difficult books and/or difficult times in my life, I like to commit to ten minutes or ten pages a day.
Tracking Your Reading Progress
Along the lines of setting reading goals, avid readers are also known to track their reading. I’m definitely a “list person” and love the simple satisfaction of crossing something off my list.
But, while tracking your reading progress can be motivating, it can also be part of the fun too. Book journaling is a creative outlet that readers love to celebrate the books they read, remember and analyze important things, and look back on like a scrapbook.
Again, I like to track my reading list on Goodreads (digital format), where I set yearly goals and rate the books I read, and with my Reading Journal (physical format), where I track all kinds of things, like my “to be read” list, books read per month, favorite books of the year, etc.
In fact, participating in the Goodreads reading challenge is exactly what reignited my reading passion. I just loved seeing the progress I was making toward a goal!
Engaging With Other Readers
Good readers love spaces that foster like-minded connections, both virtually and in real life.
Surrounding yourself with like-minded people can inspire you on a daily basis, as there is power in community.
Goodreads is a great place to connect with bookish people. You can also start by following me on Instagram @jules.literarylifestyle (and my book club @therorygilmorebookclub — a highly engaged community of bookish Gilmore Girls fans. Or, you can follow #Bookstagram on Instagram and #BookTok on TikTok.
This is an especially great place to get ideas for what to read next, as you will get SO many recommendations.
Re-evaluating and Adjusting Your Reading Needs
Lastly, one of the best reading habits I have noticed in others and think you would also benefit from is constantly making re-evaluations and readjustments in your reading life.
Good readers “trust the process,” as sports fans like to say here in Philadelphia, and focus on their own unique, ever-changing reading needs.
They don’t beat themselves up when they’re in a reading slump. They stop reading books they aren’t loving. They don’t care what other people think about what they like to read. And so on.
Self-awareness is both a reading habit in and of itself and part and parcel of all reading habits.
I hear from readers struggling like this all the time, and it breaks my heart because your reading experience should be fun and personal — without pressure!
Now you know good reading habits you can apply in your life to enjoy the many benefits of reading and share the success of other famous habitual readers. Remember that your reading habits are a series of small actions you take repeatedly over time to improve your reading life, like committing to reading something every single day. The compounded result, then, is something fierce and powerful.
Need more help with your reading life? Check out these posts: