Reading 52 Books In A Year

It’s been a goal of mine for a couple years now to read 52 books in a year. Yes, that’s an average of a book a week. In 2018, I got close – I read 50 books. But in 2019, I read only 18. I attribute much of that 2019 number to the fact that my life felt like an out of control dumpster fire for most of the year and reading wasn’t a good enough escape (this may explain how I got into anime in 2019), so my reading habit really took a hit. 

But towards the end of 2019, I started thinking that I’d like to give it a better shot again in 2020. 

The problem was – I didn’t really feel like reading. I was now addicted to reading quick snippets and articles on my phone, smashing through different TV shows, and watching movies. Sitting down to read only sounded enjoyable in theory. 

Maybe this is something that a lot of people experience but for me it was troubling. I had been a voracious reader ever since I was young so the fact that I had gone through a long period of such low reading volume was definitely atypical. 

So how to get back into it?

Start a new book. I had fallen off the reading wagon mid-book. That book would have normally been a brisk read for me but since I wasn’t feeling reading – it turned into a slog. I wasn’t motivated by that particular story. So if I’m looking to restart my habit I look for a book I’m excited about. Maybe something popped up on amazon, or I got a rec from a friend. The prospect of starting something new is always exciting. 

Pick something FUN. The books that are the most fun for me to read are usually YA fiction books. Yes, it’s a little embarrassing but YA is written to keep TEENAGERS engaged so to say that they are page turners would be an understatement. Luckily I had a rec in this genre from a friend on the backburner so I knew exactly what to get. The thing to note here is that you almost want to pick something almost easy that will keep your interest. For me – that’s YA Fantasy.

Habit. Reading is a habit like anything else. So like anything else, it’ll take a little bit of time to take. This is why the second point is so important. If I pick something fun, I’ll WANT to read because I’ll WANT to know what’s next. Another reason YA fantasy works for this purpose? It almost always comes in series format. Which means I already have a built in mechanism to keep my attention. 

Reading is an activity that can sometimes feels out of reach because there is a certain elitism that pervades around the literary canon. People wills say if you haven’t read certain things then you don’t really read and so on. But if you read at all, you’re a reader. And although many books have stood the test of time or offer truly great examples of writing/literature, reading any book can improve your vocabulary, spelling, grammar, and empathy skills. Yes, even YA can help with those, and as a result, there’s really nothing to lose. So far I’ve read five books this year which means I am on track! Wish me luck!

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A bomb book store in Portugal

 

Read it and Weep

What was the last book you read? Did you choose to read said book by choice? Or was it for something else like school or work?

When my sister and I learned to read, we didn’t just read them, we DEVOURED THEM. I remember most of our Christmas gifts would be books and by the time Christmas break was over, we would have finished a good chunk (if not all) of the books we had just received. We would read everything! We read novels, fantasy, science fiction, history, historical fiction, and nonfiction.

My sister and I are, unfortunately, increasingly rare specimens of people. In an age where consuming information at hyper-fast speeds is becoming more and more important, many people claim they don’t have the time or the attention span to sit down and read an entire book. We favor online articles and social media to consume information, and to be honest, real life has gotten so ridiculous (American politics anyone?) that it may feel like you’re viewing fiction every time you check the news.

But I still think reading full on books and immersing yourself in a story is important. The majority of books I read are nonfiction or science fiction/fantasy. And I think there is a huge benefit to reading a wide range of books for personal growth and development (and to be one of those pretentious show offs at parties). Below, I’ve outlined how I divide the books in my library and why reading books from each of these categories has more benefits than you might think.

Nonfiction books have obvious benefits. They usually fall into two categories: self-help or history/biography. There is much to be gained by reading these types of books. You can learn techniques to directly help your wellness, success, or productivity. Or, by reading history and biography books you can learn about events and people that have shaped the world into what it looks like today and can increase your understanding and perspective on your environment. I know people think these can be boring or cheesy, or like reading a dry, boring history textbook, but some of these are dynamically written and just as gripping as that tabloid article on that celeb that did that thing (you know the one). My personal favorites in this category:

  1. Never Eat Alone (Keith Ferrazzi)
  2. How to Fail at Everything and Still Win Big (Scott Adams)
  3. Blink (Malcolm Gladwell — actually everything by him is great)
  4. GirlBoss (Sophia Amoruso)
  5. Alexander Hamilton (Ron Chernow)
  6. The Four Hour Workweek (Tim Ferris)

The next category is novels. I define novels as fictional stories that have realistic characters and settings. This category of book is important because it increases your thinking and perception about your world. Even though the stories told in this category are fiction, the struggles of the characters are usually very real and tackle topics that relate heavily with most people. This category of book resonates with me because it helps with my empathy and understanding of people. Going on a journey through a character’s life helps you see things through their eyes, and even though they are made up, that skill can transfer to your own, very real, life. My personal favorites in this category:

  1. A Thousand Splendid Suns (Khaled Hosseini)
  2. Fates and Furies ( Lauren Groff)
  3. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo ( Stieg Larsson)
  4. The Kite Runner (Khaled Hosseini – this guy is a powerful writer ok?)
  5. The Butterfly Garden (Dot Hutchinson)
  6. The Picture of Dorian Gray (Oscar Wilde)
  7. Rich People Problems (Kevin Kwan, a guilty pleasure but a fun read nontheless)

The last important category in my repertoire is fantasy/fiction/sci-fi etc. I define this category as stories about things that are completely made up. The setting, circumstances, characters, and story are all completely fictional. These differ from novels because the setting is not real. This is my favorite genre because reading these books is kind of like watching a film for me. They tell these fantastical tales that my own brain can’t imagine and immerse me in a world that doesn’t exist to tell a story that ends up being highly relatable. These books are also my favorite because not only are they the most entertaining for me, I feel like they combine the best of the first two categories into one. Their characters are still intensely relatable which adds the empathy element found in novel studies, and they also encourage outside of the box thinking. In order to truly enjoy a fictional world, you have to understand the fictional rules and workings of that world and that thinking forces you to expand your mind and think about your own world more creatively. My favorites (I have so many here so I’ll only list a few):

  1. The Harry Potter Series (J.K. Rowling, this is a classic)
  2. Ender’s Game (Orson Scott Card)
  3. Enchanted (Orson Scott Card, honestly I’ve read all his books)
  4. Game of Thrones (George R.R. Martin, another expected one, but the books are honestly amazing)
  5. Ready Player One (Ernest Cline)
  6. Queen of the Tearling (Erika Johansen)
  7. The Selection (Kiera Cass)
  8. The Veldt (Ray Bradbury, this is a short story, but I love it)

I have been a reader all my life. I LOVE books, I’m such a nerd for all kinds of reading so I might be a bit biased, but being a strong reader definitely carries over into other elements of your life. Many people don’t want to spend the time reading or they claim school ruined reading for them, but reading should never be a chore and there are MILLIONS of books out there so there is something for everyone. Reading novels and books not only offers the benefits I described above, but it also drastically improves your thinking, writing, and vocabulary skills. I know I sound preachy, but there is literally NO downside to reading more books. Comment if you can think of one and we can have a lively discussion on the topic!