I beemind reading books by tracking my reading at Goodreads, which I set up to automatically tweet when I put in a reading update. Then I use Zapier (or maybe IFTTT?) to beemind tweets that contain Goodreads links. (This involves using my ‘random datastream twitter’ account, through which I hack a lot of integrations like this – it’s not my actual personal account, just a bunch of different automatic tweets.) I have to make 7 “updates” a week, which means that many days Beeminder is my nudge to read just a page or two of something. I prefer it to tracking time spent reading, since I prefer consistency to quantity. I’d rather read five minutes every day than four hours once a week, especially since reading more often prevents me from forgetting what’s happening in the book.
I like this method because it feels almost completely frictionless (I already tracked my reading in Goodreads, for a lot of reasons, so updating my reading progress there feels seamless) and it’s very flexible. I read whatever books I want, however much of them at a time as I want, audiobooks count too, etc – but it builds a habit of every day finding some time for an actual book.
By the way, to help reinforce this kind of shift in default behaviours (which I’ve periodically needed to do myself to re-set), I recommend two additional things:
1, Find some way to constrain your pool of potential books to read, so that step one of “reading” isn’t “evaluate the merits of every book that has ever existed” – set up specific books to reach for. Make it as frictionless as the next youtube video would have been. Some good ways of doing this are borrowing a couple books from your library (Libby is a real game-changer), physically placing appealing books in different parts of your house, etc.
2, Read the books that you actually, personally, right now, want to read (not the ones that you wish you wanted to read, or seem like they’d be good for you, or that you want to have read – the ones that make you want to pick them up again). This is another way to reduce friction and make reading appealing as a substitute for braincandy.
Best of luck with your reading!