How People Read, According to Reddit

I am working on an app for book recommendations called ReadThisNext. Awhile back, I read an excerpt from The Power of Habit where the marketing research behind Febreze was discussed. They couldn’t sell the product because people with smelly homes were unaware their homes smelled, so they studied how people clean their houses, and found that many people would pause for a moment upon finishing, to survey and admire their work. That because the narrative in commercials – a person cleans, then sprays Febreze to top it off. 

What does that mean for a book app? Early in the process, I ignored any potential of ReadThisNext being an app a person would use every day. The “every day” metric is attractive to venture capitalists, but as an average reader, I only need a new book once each month or so. Right now I’m making a decision on a layout issue, and it’s come up again: What if ReadThisNext could be an app you use every day? Do people who like books even read every day? Would they just check it to see what others are reading? I became very curious about people’s reading habits. 

Luckily, I did not need to spend money on market research or visit people’s homes to watch them clean. I considered posting a question on Reddit, but there was no need – my exact question has been ask 10+ times. I browsed the answers, and this is what I found.

Many people read before they go to bed and night, but lots of people read in chunks, so they’ll read a few books, then nothing for several months. Most people need it to be quiet or listen to instrumental music. There’s a common theme of fear of how technology breaks reading habits – do you read less, now that you read articles in between tasks, and is your attention span dropping? Yet, your eyes are sore from staring at screens all day, so there’s an uptick in physical books … unless you’re traveling. Many people like to carry a book wherever they go.

Here are some of the most interesting snippets from Redditors talking about their reading habits. 

I just like treating the book itself as a work of art. I go out of my way to get what I deem the best edition possible, in terms of quality and cover art. It’s all part of the package, I want it as pristine as possible.

I always finish reading so I start on a page on the right side of the book when opening it.

I always have an audiobook, ebook, and hardcover/paperback going at once.

Ebook for when I am outside of the house, hardcover/ebook for home typically and then I got a audiobook for when I am occupied for other things.

Wherever I go, I bring a book with me. Even if I’m reading something on my phone at the time, I still end up bringing along at least one book.

Right now, I’m in the middle of six books – Gardens of The Moon, The Robots of Dawn, American Gods, Lolita, Prince of Thorns and The Coming of The Third Reich.

My current reads are The Blinding Eye by Brent Weeks in hardcover, Dragonfly Falling by Adrian Tchaikovsky on my Kobo, and A Crown of Swords by Robert Jordan on audiobook.

Every now and then I binge and go on rereading sprees, and other times I may go a few weeks to months and not read anything bookwise.

If I really enjoyed a book I will read it again immediately after. It’s like the first reading sated a hunger but the second reading is savouring it.

I can’t finish a book if I don’t have a new one to start.

I have a book only for the bathroom, other for the university’s bus and other for reading at home.

Also I have the habit of write the paragraphs or sentences that I like the most in a notebook

I also have a non-fiction that I read at home too and tend to try and read a bit of that each night.

I normally read like 5 books at the same time, hardback, paperback for the tub, audio book on my phone,

I can’t wait to finish a book to start the next one. Because of this i’m reading 7 books at this moment. audio book on cd in the car, and kindle.

the only advantage digital text has is that it travels better.My eyes are growing fatigued from my monitor though and I feel like I need to cut back to actual print.

I definitely recommend the suggestion of tracking your progress. I used the same method when I was trying to regain my heroin habit, and now I’m back to using every day!

focus too much when reading. I will literally tune everything else in the world out except for the words on the page until I’m done :/.

I have to read in the quiet, and for that reason I read mostly either before I go to sleep, or after I wake up while laying in bed.

I also read almost entirely on my bed, although this sometimes backfires at night because my brain goes into sleepy mode and I can’t concentrate on the book as much. I have to make sure I’m sitting upright so I can maintain some level of alertness … I won’t read unless I have a large chunk of time to do it. A lot of people say they read every time they have a spare 5 or 10 minutes, but I can’t imagine doing that. Before I can read, I need to know that I have at least an hour or so in a quiet spot so that I can completely immerse myself in the book.

I have a secluded spot on my campus that over looks some of the busier areas but I am able to be left alone. As for music I can only listen to instrumentals while I read, lyrics get me distracted too easily. Also, I’ve noticed that I need something to drink when I read (water, beer, coffee, wine, etc.).Go on a reading hype, read four or five books within a few weeks, then stop completely for a month. Rinse and repeat.

I read for several hours at a time.

I start feeling sleepy before I reach the end of a chapter, so I look for a two line break to stop.

Reading on a Sunday morning is the best shit. In fact, reading while shitting is the best shit I’m sure.

I usually push myself to finish the chapter, get hooked into the next chapter that I force myself to finish and it’s a vicious cycle until I look at the clock and realize that I have to wake up in an hour.

Chapter? More like book. I’ve missed so many nights sleep because I though “eh, there’s only a hundred pages left.”

Also to get yourself in a place where something like the internet isn’t even an option helps focus your energy. I take a train every morning to work and there’s no wifi or anything, so it helped.

You can make deals with yourself – 10 minutes reading before you are allowed to play a game, or watch a movie. Start short and easy. If you find good books you’ll end up wanting to read just one more page, or just finish one more chapter.

Maybe it sounds silly, but I often set reasonable daily minimums for most of my hobbies: X amount of pages in the book I’m reading, Y amount of minutes in whatever game(s) I’m currently playing, Z episodes of the show I’m watching, etc. Once those are met, I just go back to what I’m feeling more that day (or just save it for last).

Maybe start an account at Goodreads? It gives you the ability to start a queue of books (sort of like Netflix), which helps keep track of books people recommend you as well as finding new stuff similar to what you already like. If you’ve got friends on there all the better.

My home can be distracting and it is quite easy to play a video game or watch a movie instead of read. Going to a coffee shop with a book or Library seems an effective way to keep me focused on my task.

I find reading relaxing so I always set time to read before I go to sleep. I go to bed around 11:00 p.m. on weeknights so my schedule usually consists of video games from 7-9, some Netflix from 9-10 and then reading until 11:00.

When I want to read, I’ll head to a crappy dive bar, get a beer and find a nice secluded corner. My book and beer isn’t a chore, it is a sacred ritual that preserves my sanity.

one habit I started on really young was that I took a book with me everywhere. I read quite a bit less in college but I would always take a book with me so if I had a bit of time

also used to work on the top floor of a very tall office building. If I had a book I was actually engrossed enough in – I was actually able to read a page or two on the elevator ride up.

carry a book around with you for any time spent sitting and waiting and try and pull the book out instead of your phone. Those are almost the only times I get to read and you can still get through a decent amount.

I often go a month or two without reading because I’m busy with classes. But then I’ll decide to pick up a new book when I have an easy week, and all of my free time after that is spent binge reading until I finish the book.

Now I find myself reading before bed. I don’t exactly schedule it, but when the evening is winding down I just grab a book, find a comfy spot to sit, and settle in.

My favorite place to read is in the bathtub. Typically, I will take a bath somewhere between 45 minutes and 2 hours and read most of the time.

I generally only read on the bus/train going to or from school and in bed before going to sleep.

I tend to read right after work. And I keep Goodreads to have a view of the progress made and what I will read next.

I try to read for pleasure for at least ten minutes every night before I go to bed.

If I’m reading for fun I’m more likely to binge read all day and then not at all for a brief period. During the summer, I read more literary fiction and nonfiction that’s only potentially related to my work. During winter break, I read mindless pulp novels or nonfiction that’s relevant to an immediate project.

Always carry a book with you to read at any quiet moments during your day

I would just start a reading journal. It always helps to see the ‘progress’ you make. Find a book that you haven’t ready that you loved or one that you’ve never read and just get through as much as you can or want to, write the title of the book and the page you got to, then cross it off when you’re done. The accomplishment of scratching off a whole page is addictive. try it in baby steps like that.

Maybe find a quiet space (not your bed) where you can hole up for a little while every night with a cup of cocoa or some other treat and just let yourself sink into the book.

Ever since I started using the Internet, my ability to focus on and read a single book has deteriorated. It reminds me of how after the printing press was invented, many people lost the skill of committing literature to memory.

Try setting aside the last hour of each day to read in bed before you go to sleep. You get the time to read, and the hour of relaxation helps you sleep better.

When I read fiction I get much more out of the book if I read it at a leisurely pace, take time to visualize scenes and use my subvocalization as a narrator and actor. I might not read as many books as I would if I used speed reading, but that’s not really why I read fiction in the first place.

The whole beauty of literature is that it slows you down and brings you to a new mental place. The experience of the journey matters; the speed does not.

Tricks for retention? For me, writing about what I’m reading helps me connect to it more deeply. And bookmarking interesting/powerful/important parts to reread later.

Ever since I got my Kindle I cannot finish a book. It’s weird.

I can read anywhere from 1 book every couple of days to multiple books a day. I also go through periods where I don’t really read anything usually because of stress.

Won’t read anything for six months, and then I spend two weeks reading a book a day.