Lost the Motivation to Read for Pleasure? Here’s How to Get it Back

Like any good habit, learning to read for fun takes a bit of intentional discipline.

There’s one type of social media post that gives me that insecure, FOMO feeling more than anything else. It’s not the kind where people are cheers-ing their friends, nor those outfit pics in expensive clothing, or even those glowing, clear skin selfies. No, that’s all fine and well with me. It’s when people post about the many books they’ve read in a year, because I wish that was me, but it’s just not. At least, it’s not me anymore.

Growing up, I had a great relationship with reading. I always loved going to the library each summer and participating in the reading challenge, checking out books to check them off my list and win prizes depending on how much I read at the end of the season. I was motivated by the rewards, of course, but also by the simple gratification of reading just for fun, just for me.

At some point, though, perhaps when my school reading assignments started stacking up higher and higher, I lost that drive. And over the past few years—especially in recent months during the pandemic—I haven’t been able to commit to sitting down and reading for pleasure at all, even when I really want to. When I try, I find myself quickly getting distracted, my thoughts turning to a running to-do list in my head or events happening around me.

Yet while opening up Netflix or Hulu and watching something familiar may provide me with a much easier escape, it doesn’t give me the same fulfillment that I remember from my reading days of yore. And I haven’t given up on my reading-for-pleasure muscles entirely. I know that I can probably get back in the groove, but it’s hard to know how to start.

So, for my sake, and the sake of anyone else who can relate, I talked to Bijal Shah, a book curator and bibliotherapist who creates reading lists and uses literature to help clients with their mental health issues. Below, read her expert advice for developing better reading habits and making reading something that feels enjoyable, not intimidating.

How to Develop Better Reading Habits:

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