How to develop the habit of reading

How to develop the habit of reading

From our childhood we are told that reading is a very good habit. Specially, if you are preparing for any competitive exam like CAT, GMAT, GRE or even UPSC (it now has a paper with questions on reading comprehension), you must read a lot of books written in English. In this context, from here on, by reading I mean reading books written in English language.

Why Reading is a good Habit?

Reading improves our comprehension as well knowledge. Reading a lot of good books makes us familiar with English language and we no more need to memorize grammar rules to find out if any sentence is wrong. It is the same way as a child learns her native language just listening to her parents and not by learning grammar rules.

Once a respected gentlemen rightly said that to write well, you need to read a lot. So, apart from helping us to understand what others write, reading is also essential to express our thoughts in good words and proper language.

But what if someone doesn’t read at all? What if mere thought of reading a book makes you yawn? Is there any way to develop this habit, easily?

Well, all big things in life require some amount of work. However, there are few ways to do it the right way so that you get maximum benefit in minimum amount of time. And obviously, you need to be motivated enough and self-determined to maintain a disciplined schedule, atleast when you begin.

I was not exactly a reading buff. Though I read books every once in a while, I was not the kind of guy who reads scores of books every month and asks for even more. Every time I finished a book, it used to be an achievement for me. But during my CAT preparation, I realized that I need to read a lot and I was actually able to read a lot of books during that time. How? I followed a simple approach.

Pick the right book

First of all, reading here does not mean reading “anything”. I am no one to criticize Chetan Bhagat for his books. He writes books in simple, lucid language to be easily understood by anyone. But for the kind of competitive exams mentioned above, those books may not help you. You need to read something with a higher level of English. Books of famous English authors written in standard English is a good point to start with.

Pick a book from a famous author, an interesting one. You can pick J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books or Dan Brown’s books like DaVinci Code, Angel and Demons etc. There are many more authors like John Grisham, Jeffrey Archer, Stephen King, you can pick any of their books based on your interest. This is because once you get involved with the story of the book, you would like to continue reading it, even if you find the language difficult or boring.

Stick to a simple schedule & Take it easy while reading the first book

Now make a schedule to read for 15-20 minutes every day before you go to bed. Yes, this much is enough to begin with. No matter what, read for some time everyday before you go to sleep. Slowly your reading time will increase as you will get involved with the story. Don’t worry even if you do not understand many words. No need to look them up in a dictionary. Just try to understand the meaning from the context and move ahead. Referring dictionary continuously will obstruct the flow and make reading boring. Completing a book is more important at this time.

Level up once you cross the milestone

After 1-2 months of this when you finish reading your first book, you will definitely feel accomplished. You would also have developed at least some interest in reading. Now you can refer to difficult words while reading the next book. You can also read using an ebook reader as it is very easy to look-up words in these devices without breaking the flow of reading. You just need to touch the word and its meaning pops up.

Finally, keep it going

Slowly and gradually you can read more and more books. Finishing each book, will boost your confidence and as you go on, you will get familiar with more words making it easier for you to understand and time to finish a book will keep on decreasing. If all goes well, by this time, you would have developed the habit to read books. It will be no longer a far-fetched dream.

The method described above may not be the best way to develop this habit but it worked pretty well for me.

I hope you too find this useful. Feel free to leave feedback or suggestion in the comments section below.

You may find following links useful:

If you are preparing for CAT or planning to start soon, you can read my detailed article here: How to start preparing for CAT

The complete list of books and material you will need for your CAT preparation can be found here: List of Important CAT Preparation Books

43 responses to “How to develop the habit of reading”

  1. Hi Abhineet!
    First of all, Congratulations and many many thanks for posting such vital tips and information.
    I have completed my Engineering from a not so famous college of UP. I have been working as a
    BDE in an IT company,which is a startup. I just wanted to know that If I go for MBA, will it be useful with only one year of experience?Also, my college and the the startup I am working with will affect my chance of selection, since they are not very well known or prominent?

    Please reply.

  2. I had suffered from wheezing during my childhood days and i cant able to study more.Health was a major problem in my life.I dont had a time to study some other books and i am so lag in english.Now i am more or less alright and i wish to prepare for upsc exams , but english seems to be a obstruction for my preparation .When i try to start studying,it gets stored and i cant extract a news .How could i get over this problem?

  3. I am 22 years old boy who’s working a BPO. Before that I was preparing for cs but I left it because I thought I m unable to do it.
    Now I m graduate I want to do something in my life. But don’t know from where I should start.
    I read your article its motivate me.
    I know I m asking wrong question here but please guide me what should I do and how can I secure my future

  4. Hi , dude i just checked your website with the all the tips and i found it quite helpful. I just have a query that my Quant is not that good, i read in your post 2 books that you recommended to read. But abhineet , yrr i too need an IIM and i havent started preparing i am not that focused. can your provide me with the tips to strengthen my quant and to focus on Preparation.

    Looking forward to hear soon

  5. hello sir I would love to ask you how much hours at least a individual should dedicate for cat preparation or if you could further elaborate in subject would be great help thanks a lot ๐Ÿ˜€

  6. hello sir I would love to ask you how much hours at least a individual should dedicate for cat preparation or if you could further elaborate in subject would be great help thanks a lot

  7. Hi abhineet
    Firstly Thanks for these great and usefull tips
    I m right now doing b. Tech(civil engg)
    And i am in 2nd year after b. Tech i am interested in MBA and i want to do it from top buisness Schools. So my question is working experience is necessary before i go for IIMs. And which field i should have to choose in MBA for a great and wealthy future. Also tell me how should i start my prepration so i can focus on my CAT Study nd for Engg Too. I am waiting for my answer Please reply ASAP.

  8. Hello Sir, I have joined CAT classes at TIME but i am not regular at studying its material due to college timing. I just need your guidance on how to study with the TIME material…I mean from where should i start..and which other books should i refer…my AIMCAT are going to start soon and I haven’t yet started my preparation.

  9. Hello abhineet, I have joined CAT classes at TIME but i am not regular at studying its material due to college timing. I just need your guidance on how to study with the TIME material…I mean from where should i start..and which other books should i refer…my AIMCAT are going to start soon and I haven’t yet started my preparation.

    • Hi Shraddha,
      I have written a few articles on CAT preparation & study material in CAT Preparation section of my blog. I am sure they will help you.
      All the best!

  10. Hi sir,
    i had completed my graduation in 2016 and my academic score is like that
    10th: 67%
    12th; 52%
    graduation : 57%
    am i eligible for get in top MBA college?
    And i also heard that if i get in any good MBA college but most of the company do not allow less than 60% student for placement interview is it true?
    Give me true information about admission process.
    and also tell me if i am not eligible for this exam than what is another course in finance sector .

  11. Hi Abhineet ,

    On the onset I want to thank you for the useful tips you gave in your articles. I have gone through all three of articles thoroughly . These were really good.
    I have finished my BE (Inst) in 2014 and after that I worked for two years in Abu Dhabi , UAE with a core MNC company on contractual basis. Now I have started preparing for CAT 2017 in India. I have some doubts as follows

    1) Will I get any benefit in technical job area in future with an MBA degree ?
    2) Do good colleges in India accept CAT/MAT any score ?
    3) Is it really required to get in to any coaching or institution for preparation ?
    4) Will the preparation for CAT be helpful for me for other exams e.g : Govt Jobs ?
    5) Is it advisable to appear for MAT/XMAT before CAT within the coming year ?

    It will be very much helpful for me if you find some time to reply the above.
    Awaiting a revert from your end soon. Thanking you in anticipation.

    Regards ,

    • Happy to know you found these articles helpful.
      Regarding your questions-
      1- It purely depends on what you plan to do after MBA. If you go for a technology oriented job, having an MBA should help you to grow well in your career.
      2- The colleges which are good accept only one of CAT/XAT/GMAT scores. I would not count MAT or other exams.
      3- Coaching is not a must. See this post for a more detailed answer-
      4- Govt exams have more focus on GK and have less difficult aptitude. So, CAT preparation may help a bit.
      5- Yes you can give all the exams in the given year. I never wrote MAT/SNAP etc. so have no idea about these. Never heard of XMAT.
      I hope my replies are helpful.
      All the Best!

    • Hey, abhineet please give me suggestions for cat ……
      I am a student of 1st year
      And I don’t know how to prepare cAT and what is this………
      I don’t know any language.. Like maths ..English …etc.
      I am a very poor or week or average student ……..
      I think I don’t do CAT …….because I think it is very difficult……
      Please sugelggest me what I do…….please abhineet ..
      Thank you

    • Hi Abhineet,

      I have completed my btech on during 2012 and I have experience of 1.5 years in private sector and 3.5 years in govt. Sector. But now i feel that the current job m doing in govt. Sector is not my cup of tea. So i am currently preparing CAT . So my quetion is, will it be any problem in case of placment if i go for an executive MBA in terms of my experience.


  13. Hi Abhineet

    I have done my PGDM from Galgotias which not among the best college and I started my career with Hindustan Times and after 3 years I am Area Manager here. I want to go for IIM but I am in a dilemma that whether I should go for full year program or executive. I have to start the preparation from scratch.

    Please help.

    Akash Anand

    • with 3 years of work-ex, you can go for regular MBA program. You will get huge opportunities and learning.
      However, since you have already worked post-MBA, you can go for executive MBA, but only opt for top B-schools in that case.

  14. Hi Abhineet,
    Thanks a lot for your fruitful Tips.
    As mentioned in your Suggestions above the ideal time to start preparing is March-April but I am working in MNC since last 10 months and because of busy schedule there i could not start preparation yet.
    So how much extra effort i need to put if I start Preparation In the Month Of Jun.Will It be fine To start Preparation from this point of time??
    Awaiting for your valuable Suggestion
    Thanks in advance!

    • You can start anytime. CAT has small syllabus which can be covered easily.
      Just practice a lot and devote your entire weekends to study.

  15. HI Abhineet,

    After completing my Graduation in Computer Application, I started working for the TCS as assistant system engineer, and have just completed my 10 months of job.But graduation isn’t enough for my career growth,and I don’t want to go for MCA, want to do MBA IT so will it help me further for my career? if yes then how would I go for it and prepare, because I hardly get time.Please suggest me some points, that would help.

    Thank You,

  16. Abhineet sir….i have given CMAT exam which was conducted in jan i scored 70 percentile…apart from that i have take classes for CET ….n i think syllabus is same for CAT MAT CMAT ….. my graduation will b compltd by the end of july ….m confused that either i should go for colleges accepting CMAT score….or ek year ka drop le kr CAT k liye self prepair karu… though i want give CAT….in need of some guidance…plz help

    • Hi Isha,
      If you are serious about MBA, only go for good colleges. Year drop is a risky move in terms of career and should be decided carefully.
      However, another good option is to join a job and prepare in parallel. In this way, you can save a precious year.

  17. Hi Abhineet
    I graduated with a Chemical engineering from 2009. Then, I worked for 2.5 years in an EPC Company. After this, I went for an M.Eng degree from Canada in Peroleum Engineering. I graduated with a GPA of 4/4 in may 2014. But since then, I am struggling to land a job because of the big recession going on in Petroleum sector. I have been serving in a restaurant since then but am not able to get a technical job. I am thinking now of doing MBA as it will open more doors to me. What do you think would be the best bet for me, a 2year MBA or an executive MBA? I am confused and donot know what to do next . Your reply would be appreciated.

    • Hi Amanjot,
      Usually executive MBA is good when you have 4-5 years of focused domain specific experience.
      In your case, you can go for either of the regular or executive program.
      In my opinion, regular MBA has a better value in case of less domain specific experience.

  18. hello abhineet. i have just passed tenth and dream of getting admission into an amzing B school for pursuing MBA. I was shocked to hear that for cracking CAT, you need to have an excellent vocab. I hate reading and also my vocab is very bad. Can u suggest the book i can start with, so that i develop an interest in reading.
    Also, do u think that i will be able to improve my vocab and reading habit till the time i get into MBA ?
    and your article is really amazing ๐Ÿ™‚ . thanks for posting it

    • Hi Aadi,
      You can start with Word Power Made Easy. It is really good for vocab.
      Yes, you can improve your vocab & reading habit given that you regularly read.

  19. Hi Abhineet,

    Thanks for the fruitful tips shared.
    Could you please let me know whether it’s ideal/feasible to pursue MBA after having an experience of 4.5 years as currently i am having an experience of 3.5 years and i work for an MNC. By the time i fill the forms for B Schools, my experience would increase to 4.5 years.
    Awaiting revert!!
    Thanks in Advance…!

    • Hi Rohan,

      Yes, it is very well feasible and useful given that you pursue your MBA from a good college. However, you have different options regarding the type of MBA- regular and executive MBA.

      There are two perspectives in which I can answer this question. One is learning perspective and other is placement. From learning point of view, any age is good. So, even if you are a fresher or someone with 5+ years of work experience, you will get a lot of opportunities to learn in college whether you are in a regular MBA or Executive MBA programme.

      Now lets consider the placement perspective. From what I have seen, experience up to 4 years is fine. Apart from normal placements, many companies visit for lateral placements and they offer very good profiles to the candidates with 2-4 years of work experience. So, these extra opportunities of lateral placements are only for the experienced candidates.

      For technical profiles like Finance, IT, Operations etc. candidates with work experience are at advantage, however, for Sales & Marketing roles, companies usually prefer freshers (even 2 years of work experience may be a disadvantage in some cases if there are a lot of fresher candidates appearing for the same role).

      If your work experience is 5 years or beyond, it can create some problem because usually companies visiting for campus placements offer profiles based on the average work experience of the batch. So, if your batch has high average work experience, it can be fine, but in case of a batch with low average work experience, you can be at a disadvantage. In that case, I would suggest you to go for an executive MBA.

      Hope this helps.

  20. Hello Abhineet, can you please tell me how many books have you read by this method from the start till now and how much time did it took you? And from where to where did your reading speed increase(eg. x words/min to y words /min).
    By the way, Thank you for the post ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Hi Uday,
      This method helped me a lot in reading more and more books during my CAT preparation. Also, my reading speed improved a lot.
      But, please understand that this article is not about reading faster. It is about reading daily & as much as you can.
      However, if you are looking towards increasing your reading speed, there are a lot of good resources on the internet.
      Thanks for reading. ๐Ÿ™‚

  21. hie abhineet , firstly thank you for your valuable tips and suggestions.
    That really motivated me ..
    I have a request , can u please suggest me any book for g.k. as, i am very poor in this particular stream.

    • Hi Sushmitha,
      In my opinion, for GK, it’s better to follow daily news from newspapers, tv, radio etc. rather than reading a thick “current affairs” book.
      However, you can follow one of the year books published by different publications e.g. India Yearbook.

  22. I have completed BE(IT) in 2014 and presently working in Cybage Soft PVt LTD. I am planning for CAT 2016. Should the gap of 2yrs affect during admission. Could you please e-mail me your reply as its not possible me to check the website regularly.

    • Here I am assuming that in this “gap” you are working as mentioned by you. 2-3 years of work experience is ideal for Indian MBA colleges. In case by gap you mean doing nothing, then you may be asked the justification during interview. But no effect of gap on your eligibility as per the current policies of IIMs.

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