ADHD Reading a Book

Why People with ADHD Find It Hard To Finish Reading Books

Reading is such an indispensable skill. More than just being an enjoyable and relaxing hobby, you need good reading skills at school and work. How does ADHD affect reading? Find out here.

Published on
Updated on
estimated reading time

Reviewed by


The mini Adhd coach
In this Article
Could it be ADHD? The Self-Assessment Workbook by The Mini ADHD Coach.
Start your ADHD diagnosis journey!

Visualize and assess 25 ADHD traits and understand how they affect your life.

Learn more

ADHD & Reading a Book

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder can affect how a person focuses or can get easily distracted by numerous exciting things. When we give in to what excites us, the dopamine production in the brain kicks in, and it feels good. 

Come to think of it, we often feel pumped up when we think of something good - like attending a concert by our favorite Korean Pop Stars or passing by a restaurant with a delectable menu🍲. 

On top of that, our impulsivity sometimes makes us do these exciting or pleasurable things without much thought. However, as our dopamine levels dwindle, the excitement and pleasure fade, too, and we are left feeling bored, restless, and seeking more.

I often experience this sudden change of interest whenever I read a book. While some adults may find reading 📚 a fairly relaxing or even enjoyable hobby, that may not be the case for those with an ADHD diagnosis. Some are learning in school and are required to get through a whole book without getting distracted; others may need to go through long documents for work. Whichever the case, it is essential to have a way to manage these struggles.

All It Takes Is A Small Spark: The List of the Best Interesting Books and Novels

While browsing the internet and doing important stuff for work💻, I came across a blog post listing the most remarkable and prominent books they read so far. The website stated that these are the best, and you're missing out if you haven't read any of the books on the list. They got my attention when they mentioned "The Catcher in the Rye" by J.D. Salinger and "To Kill a Mockingbird" by Harper Lee. 

finds a really interesting book

I knew these books from when I was just a student. In fact, many children already read these books because they are required to read them as part of their schooling. 

The thing is, I wasn’t - and still isn’t - much of a reader. But, when I read that blog, I can't shake my renewed interest in reading those books again. So, when I went out to do some grocery shopping a week later 🏦, I dropped by the nearest bookstore and grabbed a physical book copy of those titles. The excitement I felt was overflowing, and I couldn't wait to read the entire book in one sitting.

How Long Does It Take You To Finish Reading a Book?

When I got a hold of the book I impulsively bought, all the things surrounding me fell into oblivion. As soon as I cleared some items on my to-do list📝, I sat still in one corner and experienced hyper-focus, which allowed me to finish one title in record time. The reading experience was fantastic, but let’s not forget that I had to neglect some tasks to be able to read the whole book. In other words, my time management skills were put to the test. I was eager to finish the book as soon as possible, but I also had other responsibilities😅. 

When I am into something interesting and fun, my ADHD brain tends to forget that I should be doing other things, too. Sometimes, hyperfocus can be helpful. But, there are also times when it can hinder our productivity.

Many adults with ADHD might struggle with maintaining focus, but we can do great things when we find our interests and passion. When we can find what we are good at and pour our heart and soul into it, we can achieve success and be productive💪.

Reading Comprehension Exams and Other Related to Study

As mentioned, I’m technically not “good” with reading. Let me explain. 

During my undergraduate years, when our teacher assigned us articles to read or magazines to review, I remember taking several hours (or even days) to finish the task. There were moments when I had trouble reading just one article and ended up giving up😭! The idea of practicing my reading skills for examinations or as a requirement in school made me uninterested in doing them.

During my teenage years, when I didn't have a medical advice diagnosis yet for my ADHD, I was in the dark about all that I was experiencing. At first, I worried that I might have a learning disability because I could not force myself to focus on reading books. There were also questions inside my head, like why it was difficult for me to do something I wasn’t interested in.

hyper-focuses on reading and finishes in one sitting

A few months after an ADHD diagnosis, I understood well that my problems with reading were all part of my condition and that nothing was wrong with me. ADHD tends to disrupt how we do things and make our hyperfocus on some tasks. It is a part of our brain wiring 🧠 that we can't control. But with understanding and self-awareness, we can learn to work around it.

Getting Easily Distracted in Reading Books

Whenever I’m reading a newly found, interesting book, I still can't help but think of other things happening around me. Even when the book is really good, my mind would still wander off to other things. It is as if my brain is wired to be distracted easily even when doing something I enjoy.

gets distracted by another good book

Have you ever wondered why there are people who often buy books even though they aren't finished reading their current book🤔? Personally, I think that they are truly interested in the books - they just can’t find it in themselves to finish one title right away because of the distractions! I know the feeling because I've been there, too. There are so many books we want to read, but we can't find the time (or the required focus) to do it. 

Suppose you are quickly distracted while reading. Know that you are not alone. 😉It is okay to feel this way or lose interest, especially if you have ADHD. Many people with ADHD may find it best to find a quiet place to focus on reading the book. Make sure to remove distractions and give yourself enough time to enjoy the book.

Visualize your ADHD traits!

Take our fun online quiz to visualize your ADHD traits and learn more about your brain!


ADHD Reading vs. Understanding

A lot of my friends with ADHD tend to have problems understanding what they've read. And, honestly, I have this problem, too. Sometimes, I need to read all the words slowly to comprehend what I have just read. I often get reading comprehension problems whenever I need to finish reading articles or books in a specific period or when I have to beat deadlines🥺.

Reading a book faster also disrupts my understanding. When I needed to read quickly, I would often look at the pictures or scan through the words without comprehending their meaning. It's a bad habit, but I can't help myself to do it, especially when I am in a hurry. Speed reading also became a problem when I was studying for my exams. I often need to read and understand the material quickly, but retaining the necessary information was difficult.

reads the same page for hours without retaining any information

Do you know where I struggle the most regarding my reading skills? It is when I have to read the same paragraph repeatedly just to understand what the author meant 😵 I often get distracted by thinking about too many things, which affects my comprehension of the materials I am reading.

Improving Reading Skills with ADHD

When we get easily distracted and our mind starts wandering off while reading an article or a book, problems may arise. This is especially true if the documents we are reading are of utmost importance. The good news is, that there are tips to help us focus and understand what we are reading.

  • One way to help us concentrate is by breaking down the materials into smaller, manageable chunks. For instance, if you are reading a paragraph, try to focus on one sentence at a time👌. Make sure you understand the sentence's meaning before moving on to the next one. Try not to read too fast and ensure you comprehend the materials.
  • Another way is by using a highlighting tool or a pen whenever you are reading—highlighting the essential points can help you focus and understand the material better. You can also try underlining keywords or sentences that are helpful and crucial parts of the thought. Doing this will also help you go back to the critical points of the materials easily whenever you need to review them.
  • When reading long texts, it is also recommended that you take breaks in between. Our brains can only process so much information at a time, and we need to let them rest now and then. Get up and take a short walk or drink some water to help you relax. Taking frequent breaks 🧘 will also help refresh your mind and make it easier for you to focus when you start reading again.
  • Try exploring other options, such as listening to audiobooks. If you are comfortable listening to these versions of the book you are about to read, then go for it. Some adults may prefer to listen instead of reading. You can also try looking for e-books or books in a large font size so you won't have to strain your eyes too much with small texts.
finishes 20 pages then gives up completely

It's entirely okay if you cannot go through the whole book in one sitting. It is also fine if you need to read the paragraphs several times to understand the stories and complexities that the author presents. It may take a few days or weeks to finish a book, and it's okay. And definitely, going over a word and searching for its meaning is understandable. There are many reasons our minds wander off when reading, and that's okay. Just know that there are ways to help us focus on the task😘.

In the end, we do these hobbies to maintain our well-being and have fun. There are many strategies out there to help us manage our time and focus on the things we love doing to keep our mental health in check. We just have to search for them. For instance, reading a book is one of those relaxing hobbies and should not be stressful at all. All you need is to find a comfortable place, sit back, and enjoy the story. Let the words flow and take you to a different world entirely❤️.

ADHD and Reading a Book: FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions).

Is reading good for people with ADHD?

Having good reading skills is important for everyone, as you need them for many aspects of your life - at school, work, or even in doing routine chores, like transactions in the bank. For many, reading a book is likewise a relaxing hobby.

How does ADHD impact reading?

Due to some ADHD symptoms, reading can be hard for some people with this neurodivergent condition. For example, being easily distracted can get in the way of reading even just a page in one sitting. Being impulsive can also make you purchase more books even if you have unfinished titles at home. 

How can adults with ADHD become “better” at reading?

The first step is to get an official ADHD diagnosis and tell your doctor the difficulties you experience. From there, you can work closely on some strategies that might help you, like taking breaks, using highlighting tools, and breaking reading materials into chunks.

Share this article on Social Media

Help us raise awareness around ADHD, let's spread ADHD love and support to all that need it.

If you liked this article you are going to like these ones:

Check out more content about similar topics: