My Changing Reading Habits and the Books I Read in 2016

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I read quite a lot of books in 2016–52 to be exact and I tracked them all on Goodreads. [By the way, if you’re on this social network, don’t forget to add me as a contact: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8522445.Mighty_Rasing]

Here are some interesting tidbits I discovered when I looked at all the books I read.

Audio has become the dominant reading format for me.

If you want to be technical about it, you’d actually be ‘listening’ to an audiobook. But it’s still considered as reading, except that someone is reading for you. Here’s the breakdown of the format of books I read:

  • 23 Audiobooks
  • 5 Hardcover
  • 19 Paperback
  • 5 ebooks

The truth is, some audiobooks I read were in tandem with an ebook. Amazon owns Kindle (the ebook app) and Audible, which is arguably the world’s largest marketplace for audiobooks. And for some Kindle ebooks, you can buy narration for a discounted amount. And I did that for some of the books I bought in 2016.

Surprisingly, I haven’t read as much ebooks as I expected. This is probably because I read a lot of graphic novels, which are better experienced on print, than on a tablet.

The longest books I read are more than 600 pages.

The longest books I read are 1) Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson, which is 656 pages. Thankfully, I also ‘read’ it as an audiobook. So I didn’t really need to sit down and be absorbed on the print book.

The other long book with 630 pages was a hardcover–a door-stopper of a book! It was very thick and heavy! “The Aeronaut’s Windlass” by Jim Butcher is the first novel in a new Steampunk-ish fantasy/sci-fi series. I am a big fan of Mr. Butcher’s urban fantasy series Dresden Files (which has 15 books in it so far) and his fantasy Codex Alera. It came out in September 2015 and I borrowed it from the Nashville Public Library.

Here’s the breakdown of the number of pages of the books I read:

  • 600+ pages – 2 books
  • 400-500 – 3 books
  • 300-399 – 7 books
  • 200-299 – 22 books
  • 100 – 199 – 18 books

A good chunk of the books I read are between 100-300 pages. These are probably the usual length of most novels and nonfiction books.

I read an average of 1 book per week.

It doesn’t mean that I read 1 book per week. Far from it. There were some months where I read a lot of books. And there were months that I read only 1 or 2 books.

  • Jan 2016 – 10 books
  • Feb 2016 – 6 books
  • Mar 2016 – 7 books
  • Apr 2016 – 8 books
  • May 2016 – 3 books
  • Jun 2016 – 2 books
  • Jul 2016 – 2 books
  • Aug 2016 – 0 books
  • Sep 2016 – 1 books
  • Oct 2016 – 2 books
  • Nov 2016 – 3 books
  • Dec 2016 – 8 books

January is the month with the most books read. And most of them were Audiobooks. If you’re wondering how I went through a lot of books, I usually listen to Audiobooks with the playback speed dialed to 2.0. I tried experimenting with a 3.0 playback speed, but the voice started sounding like the Chipmunks, so I dialed back to 2.0, which was enough for me to understand the words being read.

How did I get to read so many books?

If you participated in this year’s Reading Challenge by Goodreads, here are a few tips on how to maximize the number of books you can read:

Borrow books from the library.

I borrowed a ton of books from the Nashville Public Library last year. And so I managed to save a lot of money. If each book I read cost about $7, I would have spent $364 on books in 2016. Thankfully, the public library in Nashville also orders new titles that come out. There are also a lot of people who want to read the new books, which means that I have to wait for some time before I get to read a new book. But that’s okay. I’m not in a hurry anyway.

Read Audiobooks.

The best thing about reading Audiobooks is that you can read while doing something else. Whenever I drive to and from work, I load an audiobook and listen away. It helps keep me occupied and interested. But I get to keep my eyes on the road. You can’t do that with an ebook or even a printed one. I also listened to audiobooks while cleaning, washing the dishes, and while riding my bike, or walking to get the mail.

Speed Reading helps.

I don’t remember where, when, and how I learned to speed read. But through the years, I have tried to speed up my reading. There are times that I go back to pages that I am reading just to understand more fully the story or the concept being presented. And there are times that I end of simply skimming and scanning a page.

If I am familiar with a nonfiction topic, it becomes easier for me to speed read. I don’t need to spend as much time digesting and understanding a concept if I have encountered it before. Case in point. I have read several books on productivity, performance, and excellence that expounded on the 10,000 hours rule popularized by Malcolm Gladwell, but originally put forward and studied by K. Anders Ericsson. The more I read, the more ideas, I get exposed to, the faster I get to read and absorb information. That’s just the virtuous cycle of reading.

If you are new to speed reading, I suggest reading some blogs and books about it. Here are two blog posts from Tim Ferriss to get you started on speed reading:

Mix it up.

Don’t just read in one genre. Don’t just read fiction or nonfiction for that matter. Mix it up!I’m a big fan of Sci-Fi and Fantasy (Okay, more fantasy than Sci-Fi.), but I also read a lot of nonfiction and literary novels. I also read Graphic Novels and poetry. Don’t be afraid to read short books. And long books. Brandon Sanderson’s “The Way of Kings” is 1007 pages! But I read it in 2014. The 2nd book in the series “Words of Radiance” is 1,087 pages. But I also read it in 2014.

I have also read books that are under 100 pages. I want to read books that challenge me and that enrich me. It’s good for the soul and it’s good for the intellect. I would like to read at least 4 books by Filipino and Ilokano authors this year. I have quite a few short story collections and novels written by fellow Ilokano writers that I would like to read. Honest confession, a lot of these books had been in my possession for several years, and I owe it to my friends, and to myself, to finally read them.

Read while traveling.

This is a big one for me. In 2016, I was traveling almost every month! A lot of those travels were long flights–8 hours or more! I usually catch up with movies that I missed when I have such flights. But on several occasions, I found myself reading or just dozing off, waiting, rather impatiently, until the plane landed! If you do any traveling–on a train, bus, or car, on the way to work, listen to an audiobook, or read ebooks on your Smartphone. It makes the commute time more bearable.

And you get to tick off some of the books on your To-Be-Read (TBR) pile!

 

In 2017, I decided to read only 12 books. I might exceed that. It doesn’t really matter. But I want to be more intentional in reading, and more absorbed in the subject matter or story of the book I’m reading.

Don’t let the Reading Challenge pressure you. If you want to read, read because it is enjoyable and you want to. Don’t just read because of a silly number on Goodreads. It’s not a contest, anyway.

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