In 2014 I challenged myself to read 52 books in a year, that is a book a week. And I managed not only to read 52 books, I read 61. In 2015 I read 63, and in 2016 I finished 61 books again. Last year I read 57. I did this while finishing my thesis for a Master’s degree in Psychology, helped my husband finish his MBA thesis and went on with life as usual.
I have always been a book lover. When I was a child I would sneak off to the library at school and later when we moved to Scotland I would beg to be taken to the library so I could check out as many books as they would let me and read as many as I could while I was still there. When we moved back to Egypt, books were not as easily available so I would borrow books from the British Council library even though most of them were terribly boring or just written for someone older than I was at the time. To feed my book habit I bought used books, which is probably why I ended up reading a lot of war novels and Tom Clancy because Daniel Steele and the romance novels were just not interesting enough for me.
I am grateful to the almost infinite number of worlds I have visited in my imagination and the imaginary people whose stories have enriched my life.
I digress, after I got married and had a little girl, making time for books got a little bit harder. I replaced my personal selection for Good Night Moon and a lot of Dr. Seuss. Don’t get me wrong, Dr Seuss was a genius. However, I just wanted to read what I wanted to read again.
So how do I do it? I cheat at it.
Ebooks are the best invention since aluminum foil. My books sync on my iPad and my iPhone which means I am never without a book. Waiting in line, at the doctors, for my daughter to finish school, for my nails to dry, any kind of waiting means I also get to read a page or two here and there. Don’t underestimate the amount of time you spend waiting for things, it adds up. I still check Facebook and Instagram but I still manage to get more reading time than if I didn’t have the books on my phone.
Listen and Read
I will usually get both the ebook and the audio book version of a book. My daughter’s school is 30 minutes away (15 really but rush hour traffic) that means I have an hour every day that I am stuck in the car for and those hours add up. An average audiobook is 14 hours long, which means I can get a book done in 14 school days. I also speed up the narration to 1.2 which means I cut down on time. I also listen while I cook, do laundry and housework. I can also read faster than I listen so when I do both, I manage to get through a book much faster than if I were reading alone.
I read a lot of graphic novels because I love them. While they appear on the surface to be lighter reading, don’t be fooled by them. They can be deep, moving, harrowing and even downright terrifying. If you don’t believe me read The Killing Joke by Alan Moore or Habibi by Craig Thomson, they will haunt you for days. They can also be highly thought provoking and educational, I am looking at you Logicomix. The artwork is also always a pleasure.
Young Adult and Children’s Literature
Yes, children’s books can be gems. The girl who circumnavigated fairyland in a ship of her own making was so fantastic that I went on to read the entire series. Harry Potter, Narnia and Percy Jackson were all aimed at kids but are wonderful books to read as an adult. As for the Young Adult genre, I fell in love with A Darker Shade of Magic and Caraval. They are usually easier to read and slightly shorter.
Read to Grow
While half of what I read is fiction, the other half is a variety of nonfiction. I usually like titles about psychology, society, ethics but I still love reading about history and technology. I read to grow my mind and my soul.
Read only what you love
The book police will not arrest you if you decide you hate a book and don’t want to finish it. Just let it go and move on, don’t waste time struggling with a book you dislike. Sometimes I will hate the writing, the topic, the story, the characters, whatever, it doesn’t really matter. Just drop it and move on. Although I do wish the book police were real and they arrested people who broke book spines or wrote in their books. You are an adult, you know what you like, accept it and pick up the next book.
It doesn’t matter if you keep a list in a notebook or use GoodReads but you do need a way of staying accountable so you know how many books you have left. Make time every day to hit your goals.
It is actually a lot more doable than you think. So off you go, pick up a book.