A bunch of years ago now I noticed a pattern in my reading. I would have a couple of weeks where I was powering through books. I would spend a weekend day reading and finish two complete books. I would finish one and immediately start the next. And then I would stop. Months would go by and I wouldn’t manage to finish anything. There were lots of reasons for this but I didn’t like it. So I set a goal to read 100 books a year. And I’ve been doing it ever since.
Everything about my life is better when I’m reading. I feel more centered. I feel more excited about life. I’m more engaged with my work. I’m more innovative. I make connections I wouldn’t have otherwise made.
I love learning new things and when you read a lot from a ton of different genres and topics you find weird and lovely connections you wouldn’t have otherwise expected. It’s those connections that often lead me to new insights and deepen my own writing and creative practice. Not to mention my theology, my relationships, and more. It sounds like I’m exaggerating, but really, this is what reading does for me.
The year before last I blew my reading goal out of the water. I read176 books. Ashley asked me why I didn’t set a higher goal for the next year and I explained this practice has never been about the goal. It’s been about the consistency. I want to be reading consistently and I know that 100 books a year will help me to do that.
One of the ways I do this is to read several books at a time. What I learned is that I can read anything for 15 minutes. So I read 4 books in 4 different categories for 15 minutes a day. Which means even if a book is dense or takes me a while to get into I’ll make at least a bit of progress each day. I read a book about theology, a fiction book, a book about creativity/writing, and a non-fiction book about whatever strikes my fancy. Then I’ll also read published plays and usually have a random book going for bedtime.
This practice helps to keep me interested and moving on my reading. It keeps me engaged and excited. And most importantly it’s really fun for me.
I don’t think everyone should set a goal for 100 books a year, but I do think everyone should try to read more. I always encourage folks to set some kind of goal, whether that’s a number of books, a reading challenge (certain types of books, different authors, etc.), or simply trying to finish something. I’m also a fan of reading whatever you like. If you want to read only romance novels or sci-fi or YA. If you love graphic novels or only poetry. Whatever it is read it without shame and with all the love. Books are good!
If you ever want a recommendation on what to read, let me know! I love telling people about books I’ve read and loved.