10 Rules For Reading

My 10 Rules for Reading

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.


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.

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