So, you’ve seen people on the internet bragging about reading a hundred books or more in a year, and you’ve thought to yourself… could I do that? The first few months of the year are already over and perhaps you haven’t read the necessary 8.33 books required to have you on track for this staggering goal. You’re thinking of giving up. Well, that’s reasonable. Reading a hundred books in a year is, for many people, excessive and entirely unnecessary.
You don’t need to read a hundred books in a year, but it’s a great idea to have an ambitious goal anyway. If it motivates you to read even a few more books than you might’ve read otherwise, where’s the harm in that? If you don’t succeed, there aren’t any dire consequences, and if you do succeed, then you can feel great and treat yourself to the reward of your choice, and perhaps even become one of those internet braggers. There’s no way to lose.
Whatever your reading goals are for this year, whether they’re ridiculous or sensible, here are some tips to help you reach them!
1. Visit the library
Libraries are awesome, and it’s important to support them. Borrowing books from the library instead of buying them will make your ridiculous reading goal much more budget friendly, and the library can also offer you reading recommendations and a quiet space for settling down with a good book.
2. Read novellas
We’re counting books, and nobody said they couldn’t be little books. So read some novellas! A book doesn’t have to be big enough to double as a lethal weapon in order to be worthy of your time. In fact, a searing, impactful novella might be just the thing you need to get your reading brain going, rather than a bloated tome that rips a hole in your backpack and possibly breaks your nose when you inevitably drop it on your face in the middle of the night while attempting to read in bed.
3 – Ebooks!
Ebooks are often cheaper than hardcopies, they’re quicker to obtain, they’re easier to store, they’re less cumbersome to carry around, and they can be read on various devices in a variety of situations in which paper books might not be practical, including but not limited to: in the rain, in the dark, and on a train or bus when you haven’t managed to obtain a seat and one of your hands is hanging onto a strap so you don’t have a spare hand for turning paper pages. There are many ways ebooks can play a role in boosting your reading potential for 2020.
4 – Audiobooks!
Audiobooks also unlock new opportunities for book consumption. You can listen while you cook, clean, commute, craft, create art, work out or work in the garden. Some people struggle to get into audiobooks, but I’d encourage you not to give up if the first one you listen to doesn’t hold your attention. When browsing for audiobooks, make sure the performance is highly rated. A poor performance can ruin a good book, but a good performance can redeem a mediocre one. You might find that you enjoy some genres more than others in this format. My favourite audiobooks tend to be thrillers that are full of suspense and have a smaller cast of characters, even though these aren’t the sort of books I usually read otherwise. Try new things! You never know what you’ll discover.
5 – Slay the social media vampire
I’m sorry to say this, because nobody likes to be lectured on this topic, but… social media is a time vampire and you need to put a stake through its heart if you want to reach your ridiculous reading goals in 2020. I don’t mean you need to quit entirely, as violent as that metaphor was. You can use social media to your advantage, browsing through bookstagram for inspiration and checking if your favourite authors have any reading recommendations, but be honest with yourself: are you losing a couple of hours (or more) every day to mindless scrolling when you could be using that time to read? Yeah, I thought so. How should you go about slaying the vampire? Here are some ideas:
- If you’re able to, try removing social media apps from your phone so you can only scroll mindlessly when you’re at your desk, or at least remove the shortcuts from your home screen so it takes a few seconds longer to locate the apps. Similarly, close social media tabs in your browser so they don’t open automatically. Set it up so that you need to make a conscious choice to dive into the scrollfest. By forcing yourself to pause and think about what might previously have been an automatic action, you give yourself a chance to change your mind, and to break bad habits.
- If you’re a more disciplined person than I am, you could designate specific times to check your social media. If your friends and family have come to expect constant engagement or immediate responses from you, and you’re concerned about suddenly not doing this anymore, let them know about your new schedule. They’ll respect it and perhaps even be inspired by it.
- If you’re feeling up to it, combine your reading goals with some total breaks from social media, whether they’re day-long, week-long or month-long breaks. Every time you have the urge to check social media, pick up your book instead. Of course, many people need to check social media for work or other non-trivial reasons, but these ideas can be adapted to suit your own situation. If all of this sounds bizarre and unnecessary to you, then that’s great! You’re probably not addicted to social media. Keep doing whatever you’re already doing.
6 – Try a reading challenge
If you’re struggling to choose which books to read or you’d benefit from a bit of community spirit and engagement, why not combine your goals with a few online reading challenges? There are many different types and themes of challenges online, and they can add a bit of structure to your goals, boost the social element of reading, and prompt you to discover books you might otherwise have overlooked.
7 – Read what you want to read!
This might seem obvious, but it’s worth mentioning: if you’re serious about reading a lot of books this year, you’ll find it much easier if you read books you actually want to read rather than reading things you feel obligated to read. Any goal is easier to achieve if you enjoy the process of reaching it. If you’re intimidated by a massive and miserable tome, then skip it. Throw yourself headfirst into a quick and fluffy romance. Just because a book is a slog to get through, doesn’t mean it always counts for more. Read what you like! You deserve it.
Got any other handy tips for reaching your reading goals? Share your ideas in the comments below. Good luck!
Laurie is an author of speculative fiction. She obtained an MA in creative writing from the University of Cape Town before going on to work as an editor of political non-fiction in London.
Since leaving publishing, she has trained as a freelance proofreader and thrown herself into writing flawed characters in tricky situations, along with enthusiastic descriptions of trees.
When she’s not writing, proofreading or battling impostor syndrome, she can be found drawing pictures, reading a wide variety of books, poi dancing (badly) or photographing the pigeons on her balcony.