Why I only plan to read 12 books this year
Because reading 50, 100 or even 200 books isn’t racked up to what it promises to be
I often see posts telling me about their successes and lessons learnt from reading 50+ books a year. Most of the time, they do it because the millionaires and billionaires are doing it.
There are YouTube videos of vloggers claiming to read 100 to 200 books in a year. That equates to 2-ish books a week. The last time I did that was speed reading skimming for college essays. I consumed a lot of books but hardly remember any of the content — or the fact that I’ve even ‘read’ it before.
The problem with reading that many books per year is that there’s no time to digest or truly absorb the ideas and thoughts presented. Sure, Mark Cuban spends 3 hours of his day reading and Warren Buffett amps it up by spending 80% of his time behind a book — but we, the common folk are hardly billionaires with ample time to sit and just read. We can aspire to their levels but for me, I’m much too far away to even get close to how many pages they’re probably churning through.
While reading is on my list of intentions and priority this year, I feel that 50 books is simply not practical. I can do 50 books if I tried but at the expense of truly appreciating and learning what lessons the paperbacks have to offer me.
There’s no point in reading if I’m just rushing through a volume for the sake of hitting targets. My purpose for reading is to gain knowledge and grow as a person. Some people take longer to read and absorb and I happen to be one of them.
I also haven’t finished a single book from front to back since 2015. I’m rusty. I’m out of touch. Reading is a skill and it’s been years since I’ve properly used it. My brain needs a bit of time to sharpen up again.
12 books is achievable and possible
It really is. That equates to 1 book a month. That means I have 30 days to complete a paperback. That’s 15 pages minimum daily for a 450 paged volume.
50 books in a year is setting myself up for failure. 12 books a year, I can certainly do.
When we try to establish a new habit, we often set ourselves up for failure by making the task too big or too impossible. It’s sort of like telling ourselves that we’ll go to the gym but after a few weeks or even days, we falter and never speak about it again — until next year rolls around again.
I’ve even given myself a head start by choosing a book that I’ve started last year in August.
Reading is like doing squats
I’m bad when it comes to finishing books. I can start books but finishing them is another story.
I would often binge read my way through the chapters and then stop around the midway point. It usually happens when something comes up — project deadlines, family events, late nights out. We always see the success stories but no actual struggle stories when it comes to reading.
For me, reading is like doing squats — if I do too much in a short period of time, a long hiatus usually follows shortly after. I need to build up the habit of reading consistently first before I increase the number of pages I read per day.
Chains of habit are too light to be felt until they are too heavy to be broken.” — Warren Buffet
My aim is to make reading an enjoyable and consistent task. My strategy is to show up every day, even it if means reading only 1 sentence from the chosen book per day. Eventually, those single sentences will eventually turn into pages.
But if I happen to only read 1 sentence on any particular day, I don’t have an excuse to beat myself up for not sticking to my game plan to read 12 books in a year.
Because I doubt that I’ll do 1 sentence stints for a month straight. One of those days, I’ll find that I have more time than usual and on those days, I’ll most likely consume more. I just need to keep showing up and read.
The purpose of planning to read 12 books this year is because I want to be able read longer and mentally heavier volumes without the need to keep count.
It’s sort of like choosing a big heavy meal that will keep me fuller longer and nourish me better. Smaller meals usually lack in substance and leave you wanting more. I want a full Sunday roast meal for my dinner instead of a salad without any added protein.
If I try and consume 50+ books in a year, it means that I’ll start choosing smaller or quick volumes that may or may not offer me the intellectual depth I’m after.
I don’t want to read for leisure.
I want to read for growth and brain food.
The expected achievement
I want to feel enlightened by the end of the process. I want to feel like I’ve learned something new. I want to feel brighter and smarter in the way I view the world.
I want to feel like I’ve actually absorbed the things I’ve read. I want to feel like I gave each book a good chance to thrive inside my brain.
So that’s why I’m taking it slow and only reading 12 books instead of 50, 60, or even 100+ books this year. I feel that this will bring me closer towards establishing a good reading relationship and habit for myself than trying to read for the numbers.