Last year about this time I set a reading goal for myself. I planned to read 40 books between January 1, 2016 and December 31, 2016 or a little over 3 books a month. Even though my friend, Cindy Clifford says that it would not count unless it was an actual book, my rules were that I could read real books, the Kindle version or listen to the books on Audible or CD. My preference is a combo of Audible and Kindle since the apps can be used interchangeably. I could listen in the car or at the gym or when I was too tired to read and then switch back to reading off my Kindle or on my phone from Kindle app. I also set the rule that I had to read at least four books each month from various genres including biographies, classic literature, histories or leadership/self-help books, and once I had done that I could reward myself with any kind of fiction. I thought that 40 books was a daunting number of books, but I decided stretching myself would be good for me. Since I have probably read my last book for the year because I have some TV to catch up on during my holiday break, I thought I would blog about this experience. As of today I have finished 125 books. YES, ONE HUNDRED TWENTY FIVE BOOKS! I am amazed I was able to do this. I often read two or three books a week, but it honestly was not hard to do.
I remember last year people telling me they read 50 to 100 books a year, and I could not imagine how one would have time to accomplish this, but it turns out it is not as hard as I thought. In fact, it has been such a great thing for me that I thought I would share the top 10 things I learned.
I love Audible’s speed choices for listening. I discovered the more I read the faster the speed I can listen. I think for some of you this is not the ideal way to listen to a book, but for me, a fast reader, it not only helped keep my interest, but I also think it was a great brain activity.
- I will never ever finish Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy. I have tried all year to get through the book. I have friends and am even married to someone who thinks this book is the most beautiful book in the world. Perhaps, if I spoke Russian I might find it beautiful, but truth be told, I think the story is awful and the characters are too. I feel guilty and pedestrian for saying so, but there it is!
- I am not a huge Hemingway fan. His writing is too simple and his stories too sad, but I do understand why he is famous and loved. He writes to make you feel and see what he feels and sees. I am glad I read his work, but I prefer more uplifting writing.
- Setting parameters for myself forced me to read books outside my comfort zone, which was one of my favorite parts of this exercise. Turns out there are books out there other than mysteries that are really fun and interesting. 🙂 Seriously, I discovered that I love biographies and histories more than a lot of fictional stories I read.
- Kindle has some great free books online at Amazon. You can find the best ones under
the kindle tab and free best sellers. The other amazing thing is that many of these books also have free or very low cost Audible companions so you can read a lot more books for little to no money.
- For Houstonians the Houston Public Library has an online library that allows you to download books and audiobooks to read without ever having to leave your house. There is a time limit and often you have to wait in a virtual line for the more popular books, but it is a great option! Many city libraries also offer this option as well.
- Reading Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow was an amazing biography about a great
American. The book highlighted the struggle between him and Thomas Jefferson and some of our other founding fathers. It helped me see that political struggle, a biased press and nasty campaigning have existed since the founding of our country. It made me feel a lot better during this year’s election cycle. Oh, and it was a fun read and my favorite book this year.
- I discovered some authors I had yet to read this year who write beautifully AND can tell a great story, sort of a rare combination. Author’s like Ruth Ware, Amy Towles and Fredrik Backman. If you have not read any of their work and are looking for something fun and engaging I urge you to check them out.
- Books really are better than the movies. Case in point, The Martian by Andy Weir. This was my favorite piece of modern fiction this year. While the movie was great, if you haven’t read the book, buy it today! The character development and details found in the book are really just too hard to adequately recreate in a 2-hour movie.
- Will I ever do this again? Yes, for sure. Reading is so much darn fun. If you are wondering what to get me for Christmas, well an Amazon gift card, of course!
I kept a list of all the books I read so let me know in the comments if you would like a copy of that and I will email you. In the mean time here is a list of my top 10 favorite books I read this year in order of preference to get you started:
- Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow
- The Martian by Andy Weir
- The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware
- Rising Strong: The Reckoning. The Rumble. The Revolution by Brene Brown
- The Teapot Dome Scandal by Laton McCartney
- A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
- A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles
- Murder for Me by Russell Little
- Seveneves by Neil Stephenson
- The Wright Brothers by David McCullough
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