You’ve probably said it to yourself 100 times before: I really need to start reading more. When you’re an out-of-the-habit adult with a full schedule, however, finding the time to pick up a book can be a challenge.
But this is a goal worth striving for. Science is beginning to back up what book-lovers already know: Reading offers far-reaching benefits for your life. The activity increases the blood flow to your brain and amps up cognitive functioning, according to a Stanford University study. And reading regularly can make you a calmer, more empathetic person.
The good news is, with a little bit of direction, you can absolutely start reading more. Here are five easy ways to get you reading more right now.
1. Set a specific book-reading goal.
How many books do you want to read? How fast do you want to read them? Picking out specific numbers will make it easier to track your progress and to celebrate your victories. Goodreads is a great tool to help you keep track of your book list and set up your reading goals for the year. This app also lets you rally your Facebook friends to join you on your journey and encourage progress.
Get a head start with these timeless classics:
2. Schedule a nonnegotiable time to read.
Carve out a block of time that can only be used for reading. Schedule it in your planner and make it as important as eating dinner or sleeping. Use an app such as Evernote—or even a simple alarm clock—to remind you that it’s time to pick up a book. Choose your time carefully though: Complicated material is easier to understand early in the morning when your mental clarity is at its peak.
Carve out a block of time that can only be used for reading. Schedule it in your planner and make it as important as eating dinner or sleeping.
3. Set up a space to read.
Pick a room free from loud distractions and set up your reading sanctuary. Find a comfy chair near a lamp and a small table. Most important, don’t file that book away in between reading sessions. Leave it out in the open to keep it top of mind.
4. Pick a format that you enjoy.
The debate of eBooks versus “treeBooks” will wage on, but here are some nuggets of information to help you decide. eBooks are instant, portable and, well, fun to play with. They can make it easier to locate hard-to-find titles and the text and page appearance are customizable, which is great if you have trouble reading small type. If you can’t fit another charger in your outlet, however, paper books are truly cordless, as well as being much easier to share. They can give your eyes a break from staring at a screen, but the biggest draw for paper books comes down to pure sentimentality: There’s just something about them. Truth be told, neither format is objectively better than the other. Just pick what works best for you.
5. Visit the library.
Perhaps it’s been a while since the last time you went to the library—maybe your third-grade teacher made you. But give it a shot; today’s library looks nothing like the dusty shelves you remember. Now they’re well-stocked with the latest titles in a variety of formats, including audiobooks, and since it’s free, it’s a risk-free way to try out topics you’re not usually into. If you’re an eBook reader, check out the Overdrive app. It lets you virtually check out eBooks and audiobooks from your local library for free with a library card.
Related: 25 Books for Success
Editor’s note: This post was originally published in November 2014 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy and comprehensiveness.