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I Read 52 Books in 2021. Here’s What I Learned.

In the beginning of last year, I decided to commit to a goal: read 52 books by the end of the year. It proved to be a challenge, but it was ultimately a rewarding and fulfilling experience. If you’ve ever thought about dedicating yourself to reading a certain amount of books like I did, here’s what you need to know.

My Reading Experience

I’ve always been the type of person to buy way too many books and add them to my TBR list, then tuck them under my bed and let them collect to dust. In 2021, I decided it was finally time to put them to use, crack them open, and finally

Like many former gifted kids, I was a reading fanatic when I was younger, but slowly lost touch with it throughout the years as school and social media consumed my life. But last year, I had an epiphany that I wanted to dive back into literature and expand my reading comprehension and writing skills through it. After years of only reading books that were assigned to me and the occasional pages for pleasure, I committed myself to a goal that almost seemed impossible.

Throughout the year, I definitely struggled to keep up with reading a book a week. Finals got in the way. Online school occupied my time. A part-time job and a lack of motivation distracted me from my goal. However, slowly but surely, I started making progress in my goal.

Most of the books I read were fiction. I occasionally threw in some nonfiction and poetry. A few of my favorites this year were My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Mosfegh, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong, Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner, Bunny by Mona Awad, and The Selected Works of Audre Lorde by Audre Lorde and edited by Roxane Gay. These books and the many others I read made me fall in love with reading all over again.

I forgot how fulfilling it was to finish a book, to make annotations purely because I was inspired, and to analyze characters I either despised or fantasized about. The exposure of skilled authors with different writing styles helped me become a better writer too, because I delved into works that are a lot different to the ones I am assigned in academic settings. Reading allowed me to take breaks from social media (definitely a necessity!) and even improved my mental health at times because I could escape into fictional worlds with characters I loved.  

My Advice For The Aspiring Reader

If you decide to commit yourself to a reading goal like this, know it’s going to take time and dedication. Don’t procrastinate on reading. Treat reading as the joy it is. Whether you’re reading for only 30 minutes before bed or during breaks in between classes, celebrate that you’re making progress toward your goal! Especially during finals and when school gets hectic, you can easily be distracted and get behind on your goal.

Utilize the resources available to you! There are hundreds of e-books and audiobooks available either through UCI’s Overdrive and other online websites. It’s also super easy to sign up for a library card at local libraries and check out books to keep up with your goal.

Additionally, check out websites like Goodreads or StoryGraph to track the books you read over the year and to read reviews of books you want to read. These websites also allow you to interact and follow friends or your favorite authors to keep up with what they’re reading. Once you get started on your goal, join these reading communities and make some friends with fellow book lovers!

Take advantage of winter and summer break. For me, these were the perfect times where I wasn’t occupied with school or work and I could fully dive into reading. During these breaks, I read the most amount of books, sometimes even one per day in order to catch up when I slacked off throughout the school year. Use breaks off from school to fit those books in and you’ll be making progress in no time!

Maintaining a reading goal is such a valuable experience and allows us to indulge in our nostalgic passions from our childhood. While I read 52 books this year, the number you read is arbitrary. It’s a great way to prioritize our mental health and reduce our time on social media. As long as you’re enjoying yourself, you’re doing it right! Whether you decide to read 5 books this year or 100 books, don’t lose sight of your goal. You’ve got this!

Camelia Heins

UC Irvine '25

Camelia Heins is a first year Political Science and English major from Orange County, California. She enjoys writing poetry, listening to several of her Spotify playlists, collecting plants, and playing with her cat, Moira.
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