Over this year I’ve talked about how reading had become hard work, and how a reading challenge had fixed that for me. Well, awesome news: I completed my reading challenge for the year almost a month early! I’m actually on track to finish another book in the next week or so, too.
You can see all of the books that I read this year here at Goodreads, if you’re interested. For now, let’s talk about why this year was awesome and what my plans are for next year’s challenge.
To my surprise, the pressure helped, not hindered.
I was really worried that ‘forcing’ myself to read 25 books a year (which is about one book every two weeks) was just going to make me hate books even more. I was wrong. As soon as I got into it, I surged.
Picking 25 was the right decision. It was enough that I feel like I’ve achieved a lot, but not so much that I was constantly under pressure. For me it was the right balance. I had a couple of months where I read nothing, and then by contrast I had one month where I think I read four books.
This isn’t necessarily the right number for everyone. If I commuted I reckon I could put the number a lot higher, because I’d have several hours a day where I’m much more likely to be reading. I know people who have goals of 5 books, and people whose goals are in excess of 100 – and they’re going to hit them.
Of course, to do this, I had to find books to read.
It forced me to engage more with the publishing community, which I’d been doing a bit passively. Okay, mostly on a ‘scroll past this like it’s background noise’ basis.
Now I’ve been searching for news about books that I want to read and learning more about ones that I didn’t know of. I’ve pre-ordered several of the books that I’ve read this year, something that I know really helps authors, and I’ve made a point of reading more own voices fiction.
As a result I’ve started some incredible series, including ones I have wanted to read for a long time – and with lots of them (not just Wheel of Time) I’ve still got more to read. This has, in turn, really helped my writing. It’s not a secret that one of the few bits of almost-entirely-applicable writing advice is ‘read more’. It’s up there with ‘write’. Good advice, that.
So what are my reading plans for next year?
Well firstly, I’m definitely doing another reading challenge. There’s no question of that – it’s been so good this year. I’ve even got a wishlist of books that I want which could keep me fed for a good couple of years. (I’m working on a way to make this accessible to you, but at the moment it reveals my home address).
The question is how high I put the target. Now, I like neat numbers. My instinct would be to go from 25 to 50. But that’s a lot – it’s almost one book a week, and I’m not certain I’m quite there yet. But as I’m going to overshoot 25, it seems too easy to put 30.
I am currently leaning towards picking 35 or 40. These are quite high for me, but the thing is…if I don’t hit it, it’s not the end of the world. It will still make me read more and derive so much inspiration and enjoyment from it. But equally, I think I could make that target.
No matter what, it’s worth trying, and I’m so glad I tried this year.