The 100-Book March: A Reading Challenge

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I’ve always been a meticulous record-keeper when it comes to keeping track of what I read and when. I use Goodreads (and a spreadsheet) to do that. While I always set a yearly reading goal, I usually pick the number I know I’m going to read anyway.

This year I’m attempting to read 100 books. I set this goal not because I care that deeply about quantifying my reading but because I want to change some bad habits. Late last year, I realized I’d fallen into the rut of using my pockets of free time to skim news headlines or scroll through Instagram for the hundredth time. Having a yearly reading goal that’s big and bold is a reminder to use my found time to read instead. So far, it’s going well. (Admittedly, the last couple of weeks have been difficult since I went back to obsessively reading the news for COVID-19 updates.)

Because I don’t want to turn reading into a job, I set some rules for myself when I started this journey in January:

No selecting books based on how long they are. I don’t want to try to “trick” the system by purposely seeking out short books or avoiding long books. I read what I want without regard for how it will impact my goal.

Quit books that aren’t working for me. I’ve always been a joyous and enthusiastic un-finisher of books I don’t like. I never count unfinished books in my yearly lists, and I won’t force myself to keep reading a book I’m not enjoying just to put it on this year’s list. When I force myself to keep going on a book that isn’t speaking to me, I end up reading less because I avoid reading altogether!

Don’t stress about monthly goals. In order to reach 100 books in a year, I need to read about 8.5 books a month. But tracking that closely stresses me out. I’m avoiding looking at numbers and instead focusing on using any extra free time I have in a day to read. Some months are going to be busier than others. I’m okay with that. (March has been a splendid reading month so far because of Spring Break and because I can’t go anywhere.)

Celebrate the positives. If I don’t make it to 100 by the end of the year, I’m fine with that. What I care about is renewing my commitment to books (and breaking some of my bad technology habits). Part of the fun of setting a goal is the time spent working toward it. So far, it’s been a fun little project.

Do you set reading goals? How many books do you read a year? How do you find ways to read more?

Do You Read Fiction? Turns Out It’s Good for You!

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I wrote about the benefits of reading literary fiction for  Harvard Business Review last week. I interviewed some really interesting people who are bringing guided literature discussions to a place you’d least expect: corporate America.

You can read my article, “The Case for Reading Fiction,” here. Come back and tell me you always knew reading fiction was good for the soul!

Do you think you could talk your organizational leadership into doing reading groups?

 

 

My Favorite Books of 2019

Choosing my favorites is hard because I read a lot of good stuff. I’ll cheat by using categories.

Best Historical Fiction
The Island of Sea Women

 

Best Set in a Boarding School Book (my favorite sub-genre)
The Swallows

 

Best Book about an Old Lady Serial Killer (also a nominee for Best Use of Cross-stitch)An Elderly Lady is Up to No Good

 

Best Psychological Thriller
The Turn of the Key

 

Best Romantic Comedy
The Unhoneymooners

 

Best Nonfiction That Scared Me Half to Death
I'll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman's Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer

 

Best Sequel
Olive, Again

 

Best Weird Book
The Need

 

Best Nonfiction That Confirms the World Is Terrible
The Death of Expertise: The Campaign Against Established Knowledge and Why It Matters

 

Best “Change Your Life” Book
The Myths of Happiness

Best Overall (Tie)
Home Fire  Girls Burn Brighter

 

Do You Feel Guilty for “Wasting Time” Reading?

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Reading for pleasure seems indulgence, but it’s honestly the best workout we can give our brains. Reading a book is like a gym for your noodle.

I can give you five reasons for reading fiction–totally guilt-free. Check out my article at The Startup.

Do you feel guilty when you read for fun? If you don’t, how did you set yourself free?

 

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