Before I started this project, the most books I had ever read in one year was 30-something. To get to 52 books per year, I had to make some changes. Here are my yearly rules for this reading project:
I. 52 Books per Year
This project is based off of the challenge of a book a week. Some books are obviously bigger than others, so I go by pages per day to determine how much I need to read each day. 52 books is a hefty, but doable challenge each year. Of the three years of this project so far, I’ve completed all 52 books only one time.
II. Set Reading List in Advance
I take an entire year to come up with my 52-book reading lists. As I’m reading one year’s list, I’m compiling ideas for the next year. I have the list chosen by December, I randomize the order, and then that is my list. People wonder if I worry about missing new books. I don’t. Sometimes new books come out that have a lot of hype but turn out to not be that good. By potentially missing these brand new books, I have at least a year to vet them, read reviews, and see if it is indeed something I’d like on a future reading list.
III. Randomize Reading Order
This is one of my secrets. Were I to choose the order of my yearly 52 books, I would stack the ones I anticipate the most at the very beginning, making it harder to get through the list later in the year. I use Randomizer for this.
IV. Finish Every Book
I’d say on the whole, it’s best to abandon books if you are not into them. But for this project, I have dedicated myself to finishing each book. I spend so much time thinking about my yearly reading list that there are very few books I want to quit early. Plus, sometimes the gems happen at the end of a book I may want to quit mid-way through.
V. One Book at a Time
I used to read 4 or 5 books at a time. For this project, I only read one at a time. It helps me recall what I read.
VI. Physical Books Only
I’m an awful listener (just ask my wife) and I can’t picture ebooks in my head. There’s something that sticks with me when I can feel the page and write in it. I can also “see” in my mind the part of the page where certain paragraphs occur. It’s not photographic, but I can at least place things on a page in a way I can’t with audiobooks or ebooks. I purchase every book so that I can mark them up and remember them as I see them on my bookshelves.
VII. Always Carry a Book and Pen
You’ll be amazed at how much time you have during your day when you have a book with you. The trick is to pull out the book before you pull out your phone.
VIII. No TV
I’ve heard that the average American watches 4.5 hours of TV a day. Can you imagine how much Americans would read if they even took half that amount of time and dedicated it to reading? I’d guess they could get through 100 books a year. Don’t get me wrong, I love TV. I get just as addicted to shows as the next person. That’s why I just don’t watch TV. I’ll watch the occasional movie with my wife (and I view that as one of the greatest luxuries), but on the whole, I avoid TV.
IX. No News
I used to read The NY Times or Wall Street Journal daily. I really enjoyed it. But, it got to the point where I was unable to tell what was legit and what wasn’t. Not only that, news reporting focuses on the tragic and urgent. Even if absolutely true, it still provides a skewed version of reality. 100,000 safe landings will not be covered. One crash landing will.
X. Share Progress Daily
I got this idea from Show Your Work! by Austin Kleon. Nearly every morning, I get on Instagram and show the book I’m reading. This has a few effects – it provides community and it helps me keep moving forward. I figure people will get pretty sick of seeing the same book cover multiple days in a row and so it helps me keep a move on.