GUEST POST: What I learnt from reading 100 books in a year

Guest blogger Paul Grech has been recapping his year in reading …

Target: 100 books in one year
Target: 100 books in one year

When a few years back I realised that I wasn’t reading as much as I used to, I resolved to start tracking my book consumption in order to better gauge my reading. This proved to be wise, because each year I upped the number target, and in fact, in 2018, I decided that the target was going to be 100 books.

I’m happy to say that I managed. It was hugely satisfying reading the final few words of book 100 (A Nest of Vipers by Andrea Camilleri) but, looking back, there were some valuable lessons that I learnt from this experience:

Emily Rudolph for Unsplash

1. There’s more time than you think…
Finding the time to read is always a bit of a challenge but the great thing of having a clear goal is that it tends help you focus. I knew that I had to read on average of two books per week and that meant trying to find time to fit the reading. Obviously, cutting back on other priorities – family, work and football – wasn’t an option, so this meant looking elsewhere to find the time. Long stretches of hours were also out of the question, so I solved it by finding “pockets” of time such as ten minutes in the morning before everyone else wakes up; a few minutes before doing the washing up; and other stolen moments at the end of the week.

2. It was not always an enjoyable experience
As something of a data geek and a planning nut, it was always inevitable that I was going to map out my reading as much as possible. This meant not only planning each month’s reading in advance but also looking at the length of each book to ensure that I wasn’t going to get into something that was going to take too long to finish. This, along with the pressure to finish books by certain dates, meant that sometimes reading became a bit too much of a chore rather than a joy. It also means that I now have a whole list of books that I put off reading last year and which I’m now free to dip into without deadlines.

3. Libraries are awesome
I knew this before obviously, but the need to consume so many books made me appreciate the ability to have access to free titles. Libraries also allowed me to experiment with books that I would not usually consider among my typical reads. This how I got to read the biographies of Steve Martin and Carrie Fisher, for instance, as well as a host of graphic novels.

Vera Bitterer for Unsplash

4. It was a journey of discovery
Shorter reads became more practical. This is how I came across the science fictional works of John Berryman (better known as a poet but I’d urge anyone to read his fiction), dust up some of classic sci-fi by Arthur C Clarke & Isaac Asimov and then dive into the philosophical works of Paolo Coelho. Would I have read them had I not pushed myself? Unlikely.

5. 2019 target
At the end of the day, I’m pretty proud that I managed to hit the 100-book target but, I don’t think I’ll try it again. the 2019 target will be something more within my comfort limits (I’m thinking 65 books) but the real target will be elsewhere; prompted by this year’s experience I’m going to try to read at least one book a month from an author that I’ve never read before.