Monday, December 30, 2013

I accomplished my 2013 reading challenge!

“Reading challenge.” Until the beginning of this year, I had not heard of such a thing. Apparently, some people give themselves a reading challenge – a challenge that involves reading in some way. One woman challenged herself to read at least one book from every country in one year. Another wrote about how she challenged herself to read 100 books in one year. I thought that was an interesting challenge so I decided that would be my reading challenge for this year. (I am not entirely sure if a reading challenge should last for the duration of one year, but those are the ones that I learned about.)

So, yes, my reading challenge for 2013 was to read 100 books in 1 year. I figured that, in order to do this, I had to set up a few guidelines:

1. I had to read at least 10 books a month – and I know that’s 120 books, but if I raised the bar high from the beginning and had that expectation for myself, I knew I’d get a good number of books in at the beginning.

2. I also decided that I’d read any kind of book: A print book or an ebook, as long as it was an actual “book” that was published. A book is a book, whether it’s print or electronic and regardless of length.

3. The books for this challenge had to be books I was reading for the first time. I often read to my son, and of course he has favorites he wants me to read to him time and again. The books I had not read yet, however, that I did read to my son would be included.

With these guidelines in place, I got started. I guess it helped that I resigned from my job early this year; that certainly gave me more time to read. (I recently got a part-time gig and, next year, I’ll be working a full-time job.) So time to read was not an issue. I often read at least two different books every day – usually nonfiction and fiction – so that helped me get through more books, too.

But, eventually, this challenge got to be frustrating. Of course, I was happy I was reading so much. I even glorified in it. But I eventually grew restless and started disliking this challenge, because the reading took me away from so many other things I could’ve been doing. Of course I believe it’s important to read every day, at least for 30 minutes, and that’s a habit I try to instill in my children. But sometimes I was reading for HOURS just so I could meet my “two books a week” quota.

I kept at it, though, and by the summer, I realized I had read quite a lot of books. At that point, I realized it was okay to slow down on the reading, and I didn’t try to finish two books every week after that. I was doing pretty good in the numbers so I allowed myself to relax. Heck, sometimes I even read one book in a single day! So I was looking good so far. Even so, I kept my eye on those numbers as the months passed.

If I did not finish reading a book, I did not include it. If it was a book I just skimmed through, I did not include it. But I did include everything else, even books I read for research.

I also noticed that I didn’t read ebooks as fast as I would have liked to. I used to speed through ebooks but, nowadays, not so much. I just don't like staring at the screen for too long. I was just fine reading pages in a book for hours, but not words on the screen for hours. It just got to be a real slowdown for me. But I hope to come up with some kind of system to fix that, because I do review ebooks from time to time. (I don’t have an e-reader, so I read all ebooks on the one PC we have.)

So here we are at the end of the year and I’m happy to report that I did manage to read 100 books in 1 year. In fact, I read 104. I met my reading challenge for 2013! Hooray!

My reading challenge for 2014 is to read a new book every month. Just one. I have a lot going on next year and will not be able to spend as much time reading as I did this year, but I will still read for one hour every day (30 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes at night) and just make sure I grab a 2014 title to read every month. One, though. Just one. That particular reading challenge is one I’m looking forward to accomplishing next.

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