Reading 101: A dummy guide to cultivating a reading habit

Part of New Year’s resolutions set by most people is the desire to develop and master the habit of reading. People criticise themselves inwardly about their inability to read their favourite books, novels, magazines, religious literature, self-help, and textbooks.
They wish they had read more compared to the previous year. People hope to read more than they are currently doing right now. So, as the new year begins, new resolutions are made. These include: ‘I pledge to read more often in the new year’, ‘I will read every day’, ‘One book One Day’, ‘No reading, no breakfast’, etc.
Shortly after the resolution, the desire to accomplish this goal is so strong and people begin in full earnest by reading their favourite books of choice every day. By end of the first month, the desire is still strong and the daily reading agenda is in serious progress. As a student, business owner or worker, when targets for the year are set and expected output is fully laid before you, your eyes begin to ‘clear’ and the ‘uselessness’ of reading slowly starts slipping into your mind.
You miss some days of the daily reading habit you started. By mid-year, one is fully focused on meeting key performance indicators, writing exams, or consumed with business; and sadly, reading is shoved to the background – if not underground.
The beautiful resolution of nurturing the habit of reading is now officially dead. Back to square one. By the end of the year, one begins to wonder what happened to the new year’s resolution to read. You console yourself by adding it to the next year’s resolutions, and the cycle continues.
But wait! What if you can still pursue your career and business goals, meet your targets at work or family duties, and still develop the necessary art of reading?
Yes, despite the ‘busyness’ of your life, you can still cultivate and master that important art of travelling to different countries, cultures and topics every day through reading. Yes, every day. Here is how.
The Power of 10 Pages
I introduce to you the ‘dumbest’ guide ever to reading habit formation – The Power of 10 Pages. The principles behind this power have been recommended by most experts in the field of habit formation and self-development.
The power of 10 pages means reading only 10 pages each day. Not more, not less. This guide could be the magic wand that can transform you into a reading superstar, going forward. You don’t believe it, right? Better believe! After all, all other methods you’ve tried failed, miserably. Maybe you should try this one.
The goal is not to stress yourself on a new habit you intend to form. The principle is to take things slowly but consistently. Consider what a beginner can accomplish by starting out on his reading habit journey with only 10 pages a day (refer to Table 1).
Table 1: Book completion days by reading 10 pages
Book type
Completion days
20-page book
2 days
50-page book
5 days
100-page book
10 days
150-page book
15 days
200-page book
20 days
250-page book
25 days
300-page book
30 days
350-page book
35 days
Can you believe it? If you decide to read just 10 pages each day, you can read a 50-page book in 5 days. A 100-page book can be completed in 10 days. A 300-page book can be conquered in 30 days. Really? Yes, like seriously!
Now, let me muddy the waters a bit. Consider how much you can accomplish in a year by reading 10 pages a day (see Table 2).
Table 2: Number of books you can read in 365 days with the Power of 10 Pages
Book type
Number of books in a year
20-page book
50-page book
100-page book
150-page book
200-page book
250-page book
300-page book
350-page book
In one year you can read 12 books of 300 pages. How’s that for someone who’s just starting out as a reader? 12 books in one year are a lot of achievements or breakthroughs for a beginner. Ok, how many 200 page-books can you read in one year? 150-page book? 100-page? Or a mixture of these book types. I tell you, there is a lot you can accomplish.  You can conquer them all. This is the Power of 10 Pages, and you can begin now. I warned you. This is the dumbest guide, ever. Do not stress yourself trying to finish a novel in one weekend telling yourself, ‘no phone calls, no friends, no family, just want to finish this book’ – though it is possible. I will rather ask that you read 10 pages a day and move on with the other aspects of your life because they also matter. You will be amazed at the feats.
The Power of consistency
There is a popular notion that repeating an action consistently for 21 days becomes a habit. That is the power of consistency. The lesson behind the Power of 10 Pages is to be consistent. It is not to cram so many pages or try to finish a book in a sitting. It is to develop the habit of reading every day, which will naturally become part of you for the rest of your life. If you practise 10 pages, over time, it becomes second nature to you – to be consistent.
Set a daily regular time
Another way of making the Power of 10 Pages more effective is to set a particular time every single day for reading. Decide to use the same time period to read your 10 pages for guaranteed success.
So, you can decide to read 10 pages of your book early in the morning before you step out of your house. Others can read theirs en route to work or school. One can also decide to finish off their 10 pages first thing when one arrives early at work.
Choose a particular time of the day with less interruption to read each and every single day, and you’ll be a reading magnet. Depending on individual differences, reading 10 pages could take 15 minutes or less, 20 minutes, 30 minutes, or even one hour. With time, you can correctly estimate how long it takes for you to read 10 pages of a book. This will help you in planning your reading time as well.
So, this is it, the dummy guide to cultivating this crucial habit of reading. You can develop the habit of reading 10 pages every day. You can read that book you bought that is lying in your drawer now.
The expensive book you bought at the airport thinking you could finish it on the flight, but never opened it. It doesn’t have to be that hard to start. It may be one of your new year’s resolutions or you’ve always dreamt of becoming an avid reader someday.
For this year and the rest of your life, it is possible. You can do it and even start right now. Harness the Power of 10 Pages now. See you next year, and tell me about your success.
About the writer
The writer is an economist with interests in data analytics, finance & investments, and petroleum resource governance.
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