Challenge Yourself Into a Reading Habit

One of my goals every year has been to read at least two books a month, but in 2023 I challenged myself to read 3 books a month. I surprised myself, and I surpassed my expectations by reading 56 books in 2023 with an average of 4.5 books per month.

In 2022, I wrote about how to read 24 or more books in a year. I touched upon tools, apps, and ideas to keep me motivated and read more books. I talked about reading consistently throughout the year, and I found that most of us want to read, but we lack the motivation, discipline, structure, and cadence to keep reading.

What would it take you to go from reading zero to one book per month? Or read one more book per month?

In this article, I add to my process for overcoming some hurdles to keep reading throughout the year. I hope this helps you achieve your reading goals for the upcoming year.

2023 Goodreads Reading Challenge book covers My 2023 Book list

Cultivating the habit of reading

Cultivating a habit of reading or any habit for that matter requires discipline and a steady cadence. But, starting a new habit is not that hard. You just have to find some time on your calendar, a little bit of motivation, and stick to the routine. I have set away 30 mins in the morning and 30 mins in the evening, every day. Find a time when not too many things are going on; like early morning before the family wakes up and just before going to bed.

If you like audiobooks, you can listen to audiobooks while you are in your car or walking or running. I take notes while I read, so unless it is fiction or a novel, I don’t listen to audiobooks if I cannot take notes. But, that’s just me. Utilize whatever time you get to read.

Another way to cultivate the habit of reading is to derive inspiration from friends and family who like to read. You can also follow other readers on Goodreads. It helps me discover new books and genres. It is also a great social avenue to interact with your friends, family, and followers. A conversation about the book you are reading or they picked up, is a good icebreaker.

A recent addition to my list of apps is Spotify. If you have a premium subscription, Spotify is putting out a lot of good audiobooks. The best part is there is no wait time like on Libby. I also found out about Standard Ebooks site, free and liberated ebooks, carefully produced for the true book lover.

“To learn to read is to light a fire; every syllable that is spelled out is a spark.” ― Victor Hugo

Reading Challenges

If you are one of those people who are driven by challenges, sign up for a reading challenge like the one Goodreads puts up. It is a great way to not only challenge yourself but to set a goal. It is not about the number of books you set your goal to read, but the challenge to meet the goal is the interesting part. Here is a post on Goodreads Members’ 63 Most Anticipated Books of 2024 that might just be your inspiration. I have been inspired by Ryan Holiday’s reading list as well. Go find your books and sign up for the reading challenge for 2024. If you are curious about the books I read in 2023, you can find my list below and you can also see my “Want to Read” list of books.

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

Challenges apart, reading is very fulfilling, productive, educative, motivating, inspiring, fun, and most of all - it makes us think. Truly, books are your best friends.

My 2023 Book List

If you are interested, here is a list of books I have read in 2023.

  1. Same As Ever: A Guide to What Never Changes by Morgan Housel
  2. 21 Lessons for the 21st Century by Yuval Noah Harari
  3. The Art of Possibility: Transforming Professional and Personal Life by Rosamund Stone Zander
  4. Think like a Stoic: Ancient Wisdom for Today’s World by Massimo Pigliucci
  5. Leonardo da Vinci by Walter Isaacson
  6. On the Origin of Time: Stephen Hawking’s Final Theory by Thomas Hertog
  7. Descartes: An Introduction by René Descartes
  8. The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry: How to Stay Emotionally Healthy and Spiritually Alive in the Chaos of the Modern World by John Mark Comer
  9. Beyond Good and Evil by Friedrich Nietzsche
  10. Lives of the Stoics: The Art of Living from Zeno to Marcus Aurelius by Ryan Holiday
  11. The Art Of Living by Thich Nhat Hanh
  12. The Culture Code: The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups by Daniel Coyle
  13. The Practice: Shipping Creative Work by Seth Godin
  14. Beginners: The Joy and Transformative Power of Lifelong Learning by Tom Vanderbilt
  15. Good Habits, Bad Habits: The Science of Making Positive Changes That Stick by Wendy Wood - great book for kids
  16. 12 Weeks to a Sharper You: A Guided Program by Sanjay Gupta
  17. Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth
  18. Before We Visit the Goddess by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
  19. How the World Really Works: A Scientist’s Guide to Our Past, Present and Future by Vaclav Smil
  20. A Thousand Ships by Natalie Haynes
  21. The Middle Way: The Story of Buddhism by Jinananda
  22. The Last Queen by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
  23. Animal Farm by George Orwell - great book for kids
  24. Buddhism: A Very Short Introduction by Damien Keown
  25. 10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works by Dan Harris
  26. Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse
  27. The Real History of Secret Societies by Richard B. Spence
  28. Karma: A Yogi’s Guide to Crafting Your Destiny by Sadhguru
  29. One Amazing Thing by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
  30. The Archer by Paulo Coelho - great book for kids
  31. Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport
  32. The Great Questions of Philosophy and Physics by Steven Gimbel
  33. Stillness Is the Key by Ryan Holiday
  34. 8 Rules of Love: How to Find It, Keep It, and Let It Go by Jay Shetty
  35. A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose by Eckhart Tolle
  36. Independence by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
  37. Turning Points in Modern History by Vejas Gabriel Liulevicius
  38. The Secret Adversary (Tommy and Tuppence Mysteries, #1) by Agatha Christie
  39. The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin by Benjamin Franklin
  40. What I Know for Sure by Oprah Winfrey
  41. Things That Matter: Overcoming Distraction to Pursue a More Meaningful Life by Joshua Becker
  42. The Three Signs of a Miserable Job: A Fable for Managers by Patrick Lencioni
  43. The Light We Carry: Overcoming in Uncertain Times by Michelle Obama
  44. Outer Order, Inner Calm: Declutter & Organize to Make More Room for Happiness by Gretchen Rubin
  45. The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni
  46. Visual Thinking: The Hidden Gifts of People Who Think in Pictures, Patterns, and Abstractions by Temple Grandin
  47. Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing by Matthew Perry
  48. From Strength to Strength: Finding Success, Happiness, and Deep Purpose in the Second Half of Life by Arthur C. Brooks
  49. Peak Mind: Find Your Focus, Own Your Attention, Invest 12 Minutes a Day by Amishi P. Jha
  50. How to Tell a Story: The Essential Guide to Memorable Storytelling from The Moth by Meg Bowles
  51. The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham
  52. Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
  53. 101 Essays That Will Change The Way You Think by Brianna Wiest
  54. The Barefoot Executive: The Ultimate Guide for Being Your Own Boss and Achieving Financial Freedom by Carrie Wilkerson
  55. The Psychology of Money by Morgan Housel
  56. The 4 Disciplines of Execution: Achieving Your Wildly Important Goals by Chris McChesney

Disclosure: Affiliate links buy me a cup of coffee, and doesn’t cost you anything…

I would to hear from you if you read or liked any of the books and your opinions on it. I would also like to hear about the books you read, so I can be inspired by your reading list.

Bookstores, libraries, and reading clubs

Local bookstores and libraries have reading clubs that can be socially engaging, motivating, and inspiring. It can be a calming experience to just look at books. I spend hours with my daughter at our local bookstore Read-It-Again, every other weekend. She likes to read and it allows me to spend some quality time with her. I get to learn the genres and authors that she follows and discover books that I would have never thought of reading.

Do you have a kid who loves to read? Or a kid that you want to introduce to the love of reading?

Some of these bookstores and libraries have special days when they host book clubs and invite authors to book readings. You can also rent the space for tea parties and to host your book club meetings.

Check out this great article about How to Read a Book, a guide that dives into how to read a book using the classical framework provided by Mortimer Adler. He literally wrote the book on reading: How to Read a Book: The Classic Guide to Intelligent Reading.

Pick a book

Not too much planning is required to start reading. Just pick a book by your favorite author, or just explore a new genre. Get into a habit of just reading for 10 minutes a day and once you get hooked you will not know how 30 mins have passed. Keep a list of books that you want to read so that you can pick up the next one in line as soon as you finish your first one. In a few months, you will be proud of your new habit and enjoy reading. Go find your books and sign up for the reading challenge for 2024. If you are curious about the books I read in 2023, you can find my list above. Next time, when you are around friends or strangers at a party, strike up a conversation about the book you are reading or they picked up - it is a nice icebreaker.

I would be interested to know what you read, so put it in the comments below. You can also follow me or be friends with me on Goodreads.

Happy reading! Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year! See you in 2024.

If you have questions or feedback, please let me know in the comments below.

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