New to Reading

New to reading? A guide to starting a love affair with reading

by Summer Black

Some people are born to read, but others don’t fall in love with books until later in life. For first-timers, the idea of picking up a book and reading it front to back might seem daunting, but don’t worry—we’ve got some tips and tricks to help you embark on your journey.

Fiction or nonfiction?

The first step, if not necessarily easy, is simple: find a book that’s right for you. A good starting point is figuring out what type of books you’ll be selecting from. Consider what interests you in film and TV.

For example, you might enjoy a drama, romance, thriller, horror, or sci-fi; in these cases, fiction may be your preference, so you could try a novel in whichever genre you’re familiar with. Alternatively, if you mostly watch documentaries or listen to educational podcasts, then nonfiction might be your best bet.

Find your genre: fiction

If you don’t read novels, it’s probably best not to start with classics. They’re generally harder to read than contemporary books due to the differences in style and language, so they can feel more like a chore than entertainment for beginners. Instead, go for something relatively new, not too long, and with a captivating storyline.

Here are a few suggestions based on genre—or even topic:

  • Thriller: Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn
  • Romance: The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang
  • Historical: Restless by William Boyd
  • Sci-fi/fantasy: The Fifth Season by N. K. Jemisin
  • Dogs: The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein
  • Walking: The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce

Find your genre: nonfiction

If nonfiction is more your cup of tea, there are plenty of great titles to choose from, including: 

  • Self-help: Atomic Habits by James Clear
  • Autobiography: A Life on Our Planet by David Attenborough
  • Business: The E-Myth by Michael E. Gerber 
  • Science: Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker
  • Travel: Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

Top tip: Check out the Richard & Judy Book Club for potential books—their selections appeal to most audiences.

Don’t put pressure on yourself

The important thing to remember is that reading is supposed to be a fun experience, something to do to unwind at the end of the day or while lounging in bed with a big mug of tea at the weekend.

You don’t have to challenge yourself straight away and expect to finish a 500-page novel as your first read. Starting with short stories or novellas, which are usually under 200 pages, can help you get into the habit of reading. Here are some short reads for you to try.


  • The Humans by Matt Haig 
  • Before the Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi 
  • The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho 


  • Tomorrow Sex Will Be Good Again by Katherine Angel
  • An Extra Pair of Hands by Kate Moss
  • Notes from an Apocalypse by Mark O’Connell

New to Reading 2

Try other mediums

The traditional way of reading isn’t for everyone and finding the medium that works for you can be a gamechanger. If you’re struggling to get into a paperback, try e-books instead—they can be easier on the eyes and more interactive.

Top tip: Before you commit to buying a Kindle, you can read some e-books on your phone through the Apple Books app.

If e-books don’t quite work, try audiobooks. They’re helpful for people with dyslexia and other cognitive impairments, and handy because they allow multitasking; you can listen to them as you clean, cook, or travel, which is ideal if you don’t have the time to sit down and read. 

Top tip: You can use Audible’s free trial for new members before you decide if it’s right for you. 

Make reading a part of everyday life

If you want to read more often, it helps to keep a book within easy reach. That way, when you find yourself stretching towards your phone to scroll through social media, you can pick up a book instead or read one on said phone. This way, reading becomes a positive habit.

It’s also a great way to switch off from work, so why not set up a space solely for reading time? Choose somewhere cosy and bring a blanket with you. It’s easier to destress in a comfortable space without any distractions, such as your phone or laptop, so you can immerse yourself in the world the author has created.

Top tip: Make sure you have good lighting to avoid eye strain, and try putting some light music on in the background as you read. Here’s our Spotify reading playlist if you don’t have your own.

Starting your reading journey, in summary

Becoming a reader is all about finding your own path, from starting small and choosing books you enjoy and genres you’re familiar with, to finding the best medium and reading space for a fulfilling experience. 

Once you gain confidence, you can branch out and really get a taste of what the bookish world has to offer. The sky’s the limit when it comes to reading, and who knows—you might just become a certified book lover!