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How to Read 52 Books this Year

It’s 2017. And that means it’s time to read another 52 books. This will be the third year that I do a book a week. And I’m really stoked!

As I reflect on what I’ve learned last year and as I plan out my first couple books for this new one I thought I’d pause and write something quick about my process.

I don’t have any real stats, but I’d hazard that reading is a pretty popular New Years Resolution. Probably up there with losing weight, running, and going vegan. Most people, however, won’t read 52 books, even if they say they will.

Just look at the Goodreads community numbers for 2016:

Over 3M people pledged books last year and only about 30K completed their challenge. That’s about 1% translated completion rate. Abysmal.

Reading 52 books a year is tough. You start strong. And build up a bit of momentum. But then the holidays end. And then life gets in the way. You start to get lazy. And you let Netflix autoplay…

So with the odds stacked against you, here are three tips on how you might improve your chances of reading 52 books—or just more—this year.

Chunk

Goals, and New Years Resolutions for that matter, are binary and intimating. And 52 books can sound ominous. But if you chunk 52 books into one book for each week the goal is immediately smaller and more manageable. By making the goal smaller and turning it into something of a system you can develop a habit and a pace to eventually hit 52.

Chain

It’s hard to start reading another book right after you’ve just finished with one. Unless, of course, it’s the next book in the series. If you don’t start another book immediately you can lazy and kick books into tomorrow. Those tomorrows quickly turn into weeks, trust me. If you chain books, however, the problem evaporates. By chaining, I mean, always have multiple books on the go. As soon as you’re about 80% the way through one book start another and make a dent in it before finishing the former. With chaining you can’t ever lose momentum.

Cheat

Okay, I lied. You’re going to lose momentum. And if it’s week 14 and you’ve only read ten books you’re probably going to get discouraged. You need quick wins to get your momentum back. Because if you don’t get to 17 books by week 17 your Resolution is probably KO’d. So you’re going to probably need to cheat. Pick up an audio-book and find something sub-100 pages. I promise it’s not hardcore cheating… A one-hundred page book is still a book! And there’s a bunch of studies that suggest listening to books on tape activate the same areas of the brain.


***

Reading 52 books can be an incredibly rewarding Resolution. Although you won’t remember every single page of every single book, you’ll be changed for it. In the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson, “I cannot remember the books I’ve read any more than the meals I have eaten; even so, they have made me.”

Good luck!