It’s taken me a long time to find a habitual way of reading books that works for me. I call it the daily reading ritual.

When I first started my career in programming there was one titbit of advice that I had seen repeated over and over again.

Read a programming book every month.

I don’t know how many of you have read a programming book, but for those that don’t know they can be difficult to read. The trouble with programming books is that they are better used as reference books. Lookup material for when you’re stuck.

I tried the one book a month goal and I failed miserably. For the next few years I kept on trying but no matter what book it was I would either give up on it or still be reading it at the end of the month.

So how do you digest a programming book without it becoming a monotonous chore?

What I’ve found that works really well for me is that I take five non-fiction books (programming or otherwise) that I want to read and I read a chapter of each book on a specific weekday. At the moment Monday is a freelance and marketing book, Tuesday is a sketch noting book an so on. What this gives you is variety. Every day is different. It’s breaks the monotony barrier.

What about fiction books though?

Fiction books are easy to read because you usually have no idea what’s going to happen and it’s the authors job to send you to a place that’s not your usual environment. It’s a form of escapism.

I don’t set a time limit for these as it takes the enjoyment away from the book. Instead I try and read these books as often as I can. It’s usually at night when the kids are sleeping.

Since starting this ritual I’ve found it much easier to make progress on the books I’ve wanted to read. Not only that but I’ve also managed to set aside a few minutes in the morning for the non-fiction books and then at night I can plough through whatever fiction book I’m reading.