I love reading books. I started reading some longer novels when I was in 5th Grade. It was a bit of a challenge back then, but I didn’t stop. And that made a lot of difference in building my imagination and my appetite for reading more books.
Back in College, a friend introduced me to C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia and to JRR Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy. My life was never the same. And so, year after year, I would be reading books, novels, and short stories.
I didn’t really keep a record of how many books I read in a year. I didn’t even keep track of their titles. But I would remember a lot of them. I used to frequent BookSale, which is a used bookstore in the Philippines, looking for books by authors that I liked. I did have a running list of authors in my head–Asimov, Bradbury, Dean, and a lot of Sci-Fi authors. I was also frequently surprised by the number of Christian authors that I stumbled into while kneeling down on the floor browsing through book after book under the shelves of BookSale. That’s how I discovered Donald Miller’s Blue Like Jazz.
In 2012, I discovered Goodreads.com, which is like the social network for readers. I just joined and I almost forgot about its existence after that. But in 2014, I began to be more intentional in keeping track of the books I read. So I decided to list the books I read on Goodreads.com. And in 2014, I joined my first ever Reading Challenge.
I read 40 books in 2014, 60 books in 2015, and 52 books in 2016.
Truth is, it wasn’t really difficult for me to read that much, because I have a lot of titles on my Kindle. Whenever I got some down time–if I need to wait in line, or wait for someone who was running late for an appointment, or even when I am commuting in a bus, train, or taxi–I would take my phone out and read on my Kindle. But I would also bring some printed books with me from time to time.
This post isn’t about how to read a lot of books in a year. I will write a separate blog post for that. But for 2017, I am deciding to slow down in reading books and be more intentional, read more slowly, and deliberately implement the lessons I learn from these books. I’ve been reading a lot of nonfiction books in the past 3 years or so and I want to make the most out of these books.
I will read ONLY 12 Books in 2017
In 2015 and 2016, I was reading, on average, 1 book per week. That is not easy. Granted, I did have a lot of travel, which gave me a lot of chance to catch up on my reading. Moving to Nashville, USA, however, introduced a lot of changes in my life. I’ve been driving more as I commute to work daily, and I have also been more busy at home with our son. Here are some of my reasons why I’m doing this.
I want to read more slowly. I can speed read if I need or want to. I don’t mind speed reading through some books. There are details that I can afford to miss. (Fun fact: 3-4 weeks before my wedding in 2011, I read through Books 2-7 of the Harry Potter series. That is my personal record of completing a series so far!) But speed reading has some potential drawbacks. I found myself speed reading through some nonfiction and fiction books that I would have wanted to savor more slowly.
Truth is, I also felt some pressure to complete the number of books I promised to read on my Goodreads account. Yeah, I cheated just a little bit. I read some really short books, and also read some graphic novels just to get to the numbers. It became a numbers game for me. And that took away some of the fun of reading.
Catch up with my TBR pile. My To-Be-Read (TBR) list had been growing. There are definitely a lot of books that I want to read but I just don’t have the luxury of time anymore. So I am deciding not to add to this list for now, until I have gone through most of it. I will probably not read everything on my TBR pile. But at least, I shall have reduced it within the next 2 years.
I’m imposing a moratorium on buying books. I will try (TRY being the operative word) hard not to buy books this year. I have already bought 2 books this year. Probably no more. But then, again, I have access to the Nashville Public Library, which has a ton of books that I want to read! But at least, I will have saved some money by the end of this year if I kept my end of the bargain.
Give myself a chance to dive into longer, more difficult materials. By reading fewer books this year, I can afford to dive into longer, more difficult materials. I am following the Stormlight Archive, a fantasy series by Brandon Sanderson and Book 3 (Oathbringer) of the series will come out later this year! It is a door stopper of the book. Each of the first two books in the series are more than 1,000 pages! But I want to read it. I am intrigued by it, and the world-building that Sanderson did is just phenomenal.
Implement lessons learned from business and non-fiction books. I also like reading books that help me grow as a person and as a professional. I take notes from business and self-help books that I read. But because I tend to pick up the next book right away, I don’t always implement the lessons I learned from those books. There are a few exceptions. I have implemented a lot of the lessons I learned from David Allen’s Getting Things Done, from Scrum, It Takes an Egg Timer, and Personal Kanban.
But I want to take it to the next level. I am working on my note-taking system so I could make the most out of quotes and lessons from the books I read. I just might share my note-taking system in a future blog post.
I guess I am also trying to simplify my reading habits. I tend to consume a lot of information, and often I feel overwhelmed. And so I am dialing down and will try a more minimalist approach to reading and learning.
But then again, I might break this rule and end up reading 40 books this year. I will see how it goes halfway through this year. But for now, I plan to read a book per month.