At the start of 2017 I set myself the challenge of reading about 125 books in the year, riffing off of Tim Challies excellent-sounding reading challenge. I had what might be called mixed success. This blog post is mostly a personal mile-marker, but I hope it will be of interest to those who read my reviews.
In total, I’ve read around 98 books (figures compiled by looking at my kindle, the pile of books in my study [significantly shorter than the ‘to-read in 2017 pile’] and blog book reviews) this year, but of the 125 I started off with, I only managed to read 54. Thus, I’ll attempt to carry over 71 into the new year, as well as adding a few more that I’d like to read.
Not including updates and reposts from my old blog, I’ve reviewed 43 books on my blog this year. 28 of them were not from my original list – meaning just 15 books from my original intention of 125 books got read and reviewed in 2017. Clearly, I’ve got some lessons to learn:
1) Working in publishing means you read both more and less
I ended up reading a lot of work books – but not quite as many as I planned. This is because a number of rather exciting books came out in 2017 that I didn’t think I’d want/need to read, and did, and being on social media on a daily basis meant that I also saw books that I could then request for review ahead of time. I also got the chance to visit AAR/SBL/ETS in the states, which led to the acquisition of a big ol’ stack of books, some of which I read rapidly. Basically, working in a bookish environment is good for the aqquiisiton of books and seeing what is out there – but also less good for actually getting reading done. For example, most weeks, I’ll read the ‘Ideas’ for publication, some of which are full manuscripts, taking away valuable reading time from published books.
2) Aim for the stars and you’ll hit the moon
125 books was clearly optimistic. But, 97 is 77.6% of that total, which sounds pretty good. I doubt that if I’d set the goal of 100 I’d’ve read 77 books.
For 2018 I hope to read slightly more books – and I’ll experiment with aiming for 150 but not specifying what 25 of them are.
I’ll share a populated list of books (With the 25 or so spaces) in the New Year.
3) Fiction is quicker to read
This is something I’ve long thought, but would certainly now say more firmly. Maybe it is the way I’m wired, but I love a good story, even when it is one where the end is known but the way isn’t clear (for instance, the Warhammer 40,000 origins story The Horus Heresy, which I’ve read over the past few years, and am never quite sure which books I’ve read and which I haven’t). That said, I also appreciate really clearly laid out books of ideas, and can race through some of them as quickly as fiction.
All in all, I’m glad to have regimented my reading somewhat this year – I’ve broadened it and deepened it, though I also need to tackle quite a few books that slipped through my fickle fingers. For a more detailed unpacking of what I read, check out this post, and for my top ten books of 2017, read this post. I also summed up my various posts about other things I read in 2017 here.