Admit it, no matter how much you may say you hate it, reading is a good thing. Studies have shown that reading on a daily basis can slow the progress of Alzheimer’s and Dementia. Like a muscle, your brain needs regular exercise and reading is one of the best ways to get that exercise. Reading might be difficult, but through my own rediscovering of reading, I learned some things that helped the process.

Realize that reading is work at first

That may not sound comforting, but don’t lose hope. When I started reading, it felt hard to do. I felt like I was losing focus, or I wasn’t enjoying it as much as I hoped I would, and I kept going back to the TV. To build any good habit, it takes about 30 days; the same goes for reading. Be patient! Start by reading things you enjoy like magazines, short stories, or even your past journals.

Set time during your week to read

If I start off my week by just saying, “I’m going to read this week,” it’s probably not going to happen. Same thing with doing my homework. If I don’t put down a specific time for homework during the week, it won’t get done.

Setting a specific time for reading gives a sense of purpose and drive. Start off small. Don’t set a plan in your schedule to read for two hours if you haven’t read in a long time. I started with 15 minutes for two days each week. I began to increase the length as time went on. Before you know it, you may read beyond that time as you fall in love with a good book. It happens all the time to me with books like Harry Potter.

Read a well-loved book

It’s easy to get bogged down with the lengthy list of New York Times best sellers. I started my reading journey by purchasing a book from that list. I thought since they were on that list, it had to be amazing. But, it didn’t help me get into reading.

Start off by reading something you loved from years ago. We’ve all read a book in our childhood that stands out in our minds. My favorite books were the Series of Unfortunate Events. I began reading those again because I already knew the story. This made reading much easier and more enjoyable. Children’s books tell delightful stories and do so with very simple language.

Set goals

Setting goals can push you to read more books once you start developing a reading habit. Once again, start off small. You may want to read the entire series of Twilight, but that goal might seem daunting after you see how many pages you have ahead of you. Just start with a simple goal to read one book in three months. If you feel like that is too easy to accomplish in that amount of time, push yourself and read one book a month.

Find your reading zone

As with homework, I have an area specifically set for reading. It’s a place where I feel more relaxed and is away from distractions. Find an area where you know you can easily pick up a book and dive right into it. One of my favorite places to read is on my patio. Find a comfortable area and make that your dedicated reading spot.

Reading shouldn’t be a burden. Instead, it should be enjoyed. I’m not saying it will always be smooth sailing. The point is that everyone, at some point in their life, should read more than they do. In the wise words of Tyrion Lannister from Game of Thrones, “A mind needs books as a sword needs a whetstone if it is to keep its edge.”