Did you know that the average North American reads only 12 books per year?
And according to a recent study, the median is actually closer to four books per year.
When I read this stat, I quickly did the math and realized that I needed to do better.
Well, that was two years ago, and I’m a little ashamed to report that the once small stack on my desk has grown to four stacks scattered across my townhouse.
You know the stack I’m referring to. That stack of books you bought but haven’t gotten around to reading.
In fact, at the beginning of December, as I attempted to hide my kids’ Christmas gifts in my walk-in closet, I shifted one of my small stacks to make room and instead they all tumbled to the ground.
Getting hit in the head with a hardcover of “The Circle” was a wake-up call. I felt guilty and ashamed that I had all these beautiful books to read yet haven’t found the time to enjoy them, so I decided to take action.
For the past two years, I’ve set a goal of reading 100 books for each year. Despite my best efforts, I finished each of the past two years more than 70 books away from my goal. Although I’m quite proud to be ahead of the average North American, I still need to do better. After all, I’m not average.
Even now I hide in shame, wondering if the powers that be will take away my writer title because all writers must read right? Isn’t that a prerequisite of writing excellence?
Wanting to get rid of my past shame, this year I vowed that THIS would be the year I would actually read 100 books.
I declared it.
I shouted it.
I stood in my best superwoman stance.
I put it on my vision board.
It was going to happen!
Instead of hoping and dreaming, I was ready to spring into action. As Shonda Rhimes said in The Year of Yes: “Dreaming is for dreamers,” and I’m a doer.
Doers get it done. They make plans. They attack. They go full on. They reap victory.
Learning from past mistakes, this year the first thing I did was make a plan, and that’s not all I did differently. Here’s how I plan to read 100 books this year and how you can too.
- Make Yourself Accountable
I realized that I failed before because no one was holding me accountable. This time around I told everyone I knew; my friends, my clients, my followers on Instagram, my favourite perky teller at Chapters. Once I told everyone that made it real. Before it was just between me and my books, and my books failed to hold me accountable.
Now more than halfway through my challenge, I have dozens of people who hold me accountable. I get messages on Twitter and Instagram from members of my tribe who are rooting for me and want weekly updates. That makes me even more committed than ever before.
- Make A Plan of Attack
Reading challenges are not easy. I remember in university I participated in a similar challenge to read 50 books from a specific list during a semester. I’m still not sure how I accomplished this goal, but my life was totally different. I didn’t have to worry about parent/teacher meetings, client deadlines, soccer practice, ballet practice… All I had to worry about back then was wine or beer? (Don’t judge me.)
So to accomplish this goal I needed a plan, and that’s what I did. I created one.
Part one of my plan is what I like to call the Golden list. It is a running list of the books I want to read. So if anyone recommends a book, or if I see an interesting read online or social media I add it to my list. That way I’m never wondering what I should read next. Here’s a look at my list and let me know if there’s anything I can add.
I also did the math. In order to accomplish my goal, I needed to read two books per week. Now, I begin two new books every Sunday like clockwork. If Friday rolls around and I’m lagging on my current read, I binge read. I’ve actually read an entire book on a Friday night before. Yes, I know… I just realized how bad that sounds but I’m a woman on a mission.
- Stay focused and reward yourself.
Like attempting to achieve any other goal, focus is essential. I constantly stay on top of reading and use every extra minute I have to read. In addition, I love using the Goodreads app to track my progress. Within my profile, I can keep a list of what I’m currently reading, what I want to read and most importantly where I am in my challenge.
In addition, I reward myself with chocolate once I reach a milestone. Not the cheap stuff either. Godiva. And just to be clear I am accepting chocolate donations. As I write this post, I am currently completing my 62nd book of the year!!! YAY! Not bad ehhh??!!!
- Know what you like
This one is a big one for me because it saves so much time and energy. Self-awareness in reading is as important as self-awareness in life. You have to know the kinds of books and writers you enjoy. I’ve received books to read and review that were just not my cup of tea, so getting through them was torture. Read a few reviews, carefully read synopses, and make sure you’ll be able to get through it before starting it. If you’re doing a challenge like this you have no precious reading time to waste on books you won’t like.
- Attach your success to something bigger.
I love to read. I seriously do. I think there are only two kinds of people in the world; 1. Those who love to read; and 2. Those who don’t. Personally, I don’t trust anyone who doesn’t travel with a book but hey to each their own.
But seriously, who cares if I read 100 books? What’s the big deal?
Cleverly crafted stories and the ability they have to open your mind, your heart and perception of the world has always fascinated me.
Growing up, I didn’t have many friends. I had my books. I use to hide under the stairwells at recess and read instead of playing outside. My first-grade teacher actually wrote on my report card that I need to socialize more and read less.
What’s my point? I love books, and the fact that thousands of children in the world don’t have access to them breaks my heart to pieces and angers me at the same time. So I’ve teamed up with an absolutely amazing organization that provides books for children across Africa.
For every book I read, one book also gets donated to Books for Africa. At the end of the year when I reach my goal, that will be 100 books. And that’s what this challenge is really about: me giving the gift of a book to a child who needs it.
So wish me luck! If you wish to donate any new or gently used books to my challenge email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Also, if you have any book suggestions I can add to my Golden List please leave them in the comments below. Here’s a list of the books I’ve read so far. To see what I’m reading now check out my Instagram or my profile on Goodreads.