How I read 88 books in a year – how to read more

by Cath

I used to love reading these types of posts “how I read so much”, “how to read more books”, so there’s no way I couldn’t write a post myself about it this year. Especially since it’s the first time ever that I read 88 books in a year. Don’t know if it’s something that I’ll do again, we’ll have to wait and see but nevertheless, I feel like I learned some important lessons and I want to share them with you.

So how did I read so much?

If you want to skip the post and watch the video, you can do so:

I read without judgments

Before this year, I believed that I shouldn’t x, y or z for a variety of reasons, one of them was that reading romance books was not real literature and I should read other kinds of books. So what happened when I started reading the other types of books? I didn’t feel like reading them. Sometimes I didn’t finish them, other times I would take so much time reading them which made me dread picking up another book.

This year, I read so much because I just didn’t care. I read what I wanted to read and I accepted that reading wouldn’t make me a more cultured person, it was an escape, like watching a movie or a tv show. I’m just not going to start reading only non fiction books because it’s just not me. And I accepted that this year.

I didn’t make myself finish books

Very similarly to the last point and another belief that I held that didn’t make much sense was: you need to finish a book that you start. Even if I didn’t like it or it wasn’t the right moment to read the book, I’d make myself read it.

This year, I picked up a book, read a few pages and felt it wasn’t the right time and just shelved it. I’d go to the library borrow books when I have other books to read at home. I’d even get books from the library and return them after a couple of weeks untouched. I didn’t make myself start not did I make myself continue.

One thing that always bothered me and a culprit of why I didn’t stop reading books was that I’d put on Goodreads that I started reading a book and I didn’t want to remove it. Honestly, I know that deep down no one cares but it was a huge issue for me, so what I started doing was to update Goodreads only when I finish the book or when I know I’m going to continue reading it (meaning, I’m already enjoying it so much).

I prioritized reading

This seems pretty basic but there’s no way around this. Without prioritizing reading, I wouldn’t have read as much as I did. Last year, on 2020, I spent at least 20h every week working on RandomCath, writing posts, editing Youtube videos – I know they’re not very good but that doesn’t mean I didn’t spend a lot of time making them – overall trying to grow this project. This year, a mix of being sick of being on my computer and mentally tired from lockdown, plus not seeing my effort translate to anything, I worked very little in RandomCath this year. That means that there were more hours to read.

I gave this project as an example but in general, I picked up a book instead of watching a new tv show. I’d finish a book and start a new one. I didn’t feel like doing anything, I’d read. I think that you get my point.

I started listening to audiobooks

I had already listened to audiobooks in college, in fact, I think I read The Hunger Games through an audiobook but the format didn’t conquer me. Now, more than 10 years later, I can say that I’m a fan and audiobooks was one of the big highlights of this year (or, I guess last year?). I loved reading audiobooks, especially because I was lucky to read ones that had amazing narrators, who would pull me into the story.

Since I liked this format so much, it meant that I spend a lot of time listening to audiobooks while I was knitting, cross stitching and cooking. I wasn’t always listening to audiobooks whilst doing these things, otherwise my total would be so much higher but I can say that audiobooks played a huge part on why I read so much.

I’m in love with this format, I just wish it was more common in Portuguese from Portugal. Currently only listening in English, which is fine but I’d love to make people understand how great this format is!

I used books as an escape mechanism

Nothing really bad happened this year, I can’t complain, my family and friends are okay, my relationships are okay, but mentally it was a very hard year for me. And books were a way for me to escape reality, entering a fiction world, fall in love with the characters, live like them, and for that brief moment, I actually lived in that world.

I don’t know if that’s a good thing or not, so I can’t recommend it to everyone, but for me, this was good, connecting with these characters allowed me to be stronger in real life.

I really wanted to write about this because it’s easy to feel intimidated by someone who read 88 books in a year. In other years, I was the one admiring them for reading so much, I never read so much in one year before 2021. But after this year, I realized how many judgment I had towards reading, reading can just be good for us. When I was younger and read a lot, I didn’t think about what I was reading, if it was a “productive use of my time” or not, if I was more cultured after reading or not, what people thought about what I was reading. I read Sarah Waters, which was definitely romance and I didn’t judge myself, I didn’t think “I’m reading too many romance novels”.

All to say, that reading 88 books it’s nothing as big as I thought it would be, not that I’m not proud anyway but I felt it was so much bigger than it actually is.

If you want to read more, prioritize reading and experiment with different formats, those are my biggest takeaways for you. But for me, reading was a way to have a little bit more control of my life, especially when I tried to pick up mostly books with happy endings and that’s okay. Everyone has their own mechanisms to deal with life, and that’s what I worked out this year.

So don’t feel bad for reading more or less, read if you want to read and read what you want to read. Your spare time belongs to you and it’s meant to make you feel good.

Extra tip: don’t put a big reading goal for yourself! My reading goal is always 20 books and I start to increase it in small increments instead of saying “I’m going to read 100 books” and make me feel anxious about not accomplishing that goal.

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