In 2019, I came to a growing realisation that I had virtually stopped reading for pleasure. Something I used to enjoy immensely had become a chore simply too taxing to tackle at the end of a day filled with all of the reading required for my degree. In 2020, I decided to change this.
After seeing YouTuber Jack Edward’s goal of reading 100 books in 2019, I decided this was an idea I could get behind. Being both competitive and stubborn meant that, if I set myself such a challenge, I knew I would move mountains to beat it. In my naivety, I decide to settle for 50 books… I blame Jack for warping my sense of how many books were realistic to read in a year. But I settled on 50, downloaded the Goodreads app and away I went.
At some point in January I came to realise the scale of my self-imposed challenge. My goal of 50 books meant reading almost a book a week. Now, I am a quick reader, but reading a book a week consistently, on top of all my degree work and actually having a social life? A tad unrealistic, I thought. But still, I decided that I could but try- even if I didn’t end up meeting my goal, I would still have ended up reading more than in 2019 simply through being more aware of how much I was reading.
I anticipated getting behind on my target during the first few months of the year, due to being at university. The big C-word hitting the world did not have as much of an impact as I thought it might, because I still had uni work to do (albeit from home). Fast-forward to the summer break, and I was very much behind. But then I turned it all around. I always tend to read more over summer anyway- holidays with my family tend to involve sitting in a field in the middle of nowhere with little mobile signal, so reading is the best option- and having my reading challenge only accelerated this. I even read six books in one week, which really helped improve my reading stats.
[bf_image id="rtksgmk76v4655zkb6kwfjs"] On the 16th December 2020, I finished my 50th book of the year. Hallelujah! There were times when I thought I would never get back on track, but somehow, I made it. But it wasn’t just hitting the target that felt so good- it was knowing that I had stuck to my commitment all year, and I had re-formed the habits of reading that I had lost over the past few years. The benefits of this cannot be understated, from both an educational and a mental health perspective.
Overall, I would recommend setting yourself a reading challenge to anyone. But I would advise thinking the number you choose through a little more fully than I did! I often found myself tactically picking shorter or easier to read books (so I would pick the 300-page light fiction over the 400-page classic). In 2021, I am planning on mixing things up and focussing on breadth of genre rather than sheer number of books read. Whether this works or not, I don’t know- but either way, simply having the target in mind will make me continue to be active in choosing to read. In an increasingly chaotic world, there is something strangely comforting about picking up a book- and more times than not, our excuse of ‘I haven’t the time/ energy’ is less true than we think.