How to Read More This Year
You can’t kick over a rock around these parts without seeing a recommendation for a book. I love suggesting new titles you may not have heard of, I love sharing top ten quotes from some of my favorite recent reads, and I love hearing from you about what you’re reading and what I should have on my shelf.
Reading is my hobby and passion, but it’s not something that always just happens. In order to keep balance in what I’m reading and hold myself accountable to actually read when there is so. much. Netflix. to watch, I’ve made a habit of keeping a reading log of the titles, authors, and topics I’ve read over the last 14 years.
A few years ago, I started setting goals around my reading. Most of those goals centered around the number of books: I wanted to read a book per week. I’ve only hit that goal twice: once in 2013 (54 books) and again in 2014 (55 books). The rest of the years, I have a mid-November panic attack and realize I’m not going to hit my goal by the time the clock strikes midnight on December 31.
In 2018, however, I changed that goal. Rather than reading a book per week, I decided to concentrate on time: I wanted to put in 30 minutes per day of reading. No matter how busy the day was, no matter how tired or unmotivated I may have been, a half hour of reading was the bare minimum.
As of December 31, I hit that goal. A half hour per day for 365 days equaled a solid week of round-the-clock reading. (And in case you’re interested, I didn’t hit the goal of 52 in a year. Instead, I read 100 books. And yes…there was some binging between Christmas and New Years because why not hit 100 if you’re so close.)
Here’s the thing: there were plenty of days I didn’t feel like reading. There were many days I didn’t want to read. There were days when I would rather stick a red-hot ice pick into my eyeball than pick up a book. But setting a timer for a half hour (and sticking to that plan, no matter what) allowed me to at least get started. And I discovered that once 30 minutes passed, I just kept reading.
Just in case you like the nerdy details:
- Out of the 100, 13 of those were audiobooks, 36 were on Kindle, and 51 were good old fashioned hard copies.
- I didn’t count listening to an audiobook as part of my 30 minutes.
- Bible and devotional reading didn’t count in the 30 minutes.
- The average book length was 234 pages. The two shortest books read were a two-way tie (51), and the longest was 636.
- Topics ran the gamut from spiritual growth to fiction to guest services to leadership development to biographies and history.
(I feel like I should pause here for a nod to my friend Bob Adams, who takes goals like mine and then triples them. Bob is a machine, and if you can read like him, more power to ya.)
Most of us would say that we want to be more disciplined readers and learners. But what if this year – rather than focusing on a number goal, you focused on a time goal? Let’s say that in an average book, you can process a page per minute. (I recognize that font size, depth of the topic, etc., will factor in to this. But humor me here.) 30 pages x 7 days = 210 pages, or roughly the length of a typical trade book. By just reading 30 minutes per day, you can easily knock out that book per week.
So what – and when – will you read this year?