The former Southampton coach has signed a deal to take over at the Madejski Stadium until summer 2016 after former Royals coach Brian McDermott was fired a two weeks ago.
The 48-year-old had been out of work since surprisingly losing his job with the Saints in January, with his sacking coming after back-to-back promotions.
The fixture list means his first home game will be against his old side, but Adkins' focus is on his future with Reading.
"I can't talk about Southampton as it's in the hands of the League Managers' Association," he said.
"I am looking to the future, I`ve had two months out and gone around Europe, I`m excited about the future and passionate about playing football."
He added: I am pleased to be the Reading manager. We will take it one game at a time and try and keep this club in the Premier League.
"It`s a good club, I`ve been impressed with them and I`ve always known what sort of club it is. We're in the Premier League and we want to stay there. I am excited."
Long-time assistant Andy Crosby will join Adkins at Reading and the pair will take the team to Arsenal on Saturday before a home meeting with Southampton.
"I am delighted to bring Nigel to our club because he is perfect for us," Anton Zingarevic, Reading's owner, said in a statement.
"He has great respect within the game, his CV speaks for itself and he has many attributes as a manager, he is progressive, he develops players, his teams play attacking, passing football but most of all he knows how to win games at all levels.
"This is an appointment we have made both with the short and long-term in mind and Nigel can take our club forward.
"I know our supporters have been keen to hear news over the past two weeks and I am certain they will join me in saying it was worth the wait.
"I wish Nigel and Andy nothing but good luck and now we focus on eight hugely important games in the Premier League."
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