Less is more: why I don’t read 200 books a year

Book

There are so many books these days! It seems that everyone either wrote a book or aspires to do so. And in a world were self-publishing is hot, the quantity only increases. For avid book fanatics like me, it often feels like there is no way I can keep up with all the new content, ideas and genres. I feel that I should be reading all day long, even though I know very well that even then I wouldn’t be able to read the vast amount of literature published each day.

Some people seem to try anyway. Do you know about the Goodreads Reading Challenge? You basically set a goal of the number of books you want to read in a year and by logging them into Goodreads, you can see your progress. My goal for this year is forty books, of which I have read 14 at the moment I’m writing this. Fun thing is (at least for me) to look at other peoples goals. Not just of my friends, who read 12 to 60 books a year, but also of complete strangers. Some of them read (or attempt to read) a staggering amount of 200+ books a year!

As I had no clue how someone would ever be able to read that many books in such a short time span, I decided to do some research. Here is what you should do if you also want to become a book devourer:

  • Learn how to speed read: Logical one, if you want to read more in the same amount of time, you have to read faster. And though some people advise for just reading the first and last sentence of a paragraph and scanning the middle, this might just work for specific genres (as in, self-help or non-fiction). For your everyday novels, you might just want to use a pointer. Either with a pen or with your finger you can track the lines to keep a better focus. Best way to read faster stays practice. Practicing a lot, not just on reading but specifically speed reading, will definitely improve your words per minute.
  • Audio books: And for all the times you cannot spend on reading: get yourself some audio books. Nice distraction from the traffic jam you’re in or the dishes that have to be done. Before you know it, you’ve finished yet another book.
  • A lot of time: But then in the end, even if you are a top speed reader and listen to audio books all the time, you will need to increase your actual reading time. With ten minutes a day you won’t make it even past the 50+ mark. So go ahead and plan some more reading time. Some of you are probably arguing silently with me now: ‘No way, I don’t have time for that!’ But what about the mornings? If you really want to reach your goal, put the alarm an hour earlier and read.

So, now we’ve learned how to read many, many, maaanny books in a year. But I’ve come to the conclusion that this is not the thing for me to do. Why:

  • I have a life outside of reading: I don’t want to insinuate that people reading 200+ books a year don’t. It is just that for me personally, I know that reading a lot more than I do now, would not make me happy. I like to sleep in the morning instead of waking up an hour earlier. I like to go to uni, or do the dishes without listening to audio books.
  • I want to enjoy reading: If I would set my goal to 100 books a year, it would feel too much like an obligation. Forty is fine, I don’t feel stressed about that. The main reason is that I love reading to escape the world temporarily and to relax. If I have to get stressed in order to relax, doesn’t that devalue the whole attempt to relax?
  • Comprehension: Speed reading is not for me. Sure, I’m able to read at least twice as fast as I’m doing normally. I will understand and enjoy the book. I won’t, however, get all the details. And if you ask me a month later, I won’t be able to tell you the names of the characters or the precise story line. I also excel in forgetting the ending of books (which is great for rereads by the way!)

Obviously, I realize that this is solely my own opinion and I’m very sure that some people really enjoy reading 200 books a year. But I’ll just stick to my forty.

So what about you? How many books do you read a year? And would you consider reading 200+ of them?

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