Graphic created by Evan Brooks
Every year, we set a new standard for ourselves on what we would like to become and new goals we would like to achieve. On the eve of 2020, one of the goals I set for myself was to read more than I had the previous year. In 2019, I read a total of 16 books, 10 of which were physical copies, and the other six were audiobooks. For 2020, I set a goal to read 120 books in total, half being physical copies and half being audiobooks.
I was never much of a reader until recently, and even now I try to find reasons to shirk the responsibility of reading. I hated reading so much when I was younger that I was almost placed in a reading help course and often had to be sent to meetings with other students who were not up to the reading standards set by the school.
The reason I was able to get better at reading to the point that I could reach my 2020 goal was through practice and time management. I was able to follow through with the responsibilities I set for myself because I realized the act of shirking off my own goals would only be detrimental to my growth as a person.
I am going to explain how I read as many books as I did in a year and what doing so means and does to you. First, I did reach my 2020 reading goal. I read 60 physical copies of books and listened to 66 audiobooks for a total of 126 in one year. By far, I am not the fastest reader in the world — I remember having a professor that could read a book a day.
Whether it takes you a day or a month to read a book, do it. It is easy to add into your schedule; just 30 minutes of dedicated reading time a day will staggeringly increase the amount of books you read in a year, let alone over the course of your life. In fact, those 30 minutes a day may even extend your life if you make it a habit.
Adding reading as a habit is so important that in a Harvard University study of people 50 years and older, it was found that those “who read books regularly had a 20% lower risk of dying over the next 12 years compared with people who weren’t readers or who read periodicals. This difference remained regardless of race, education, state of health, wealth, marital status and depression.”
Even if you do not believe this 2016 study, you will be hard-pressed to find any research that says reading impacts your life in any way but positively.
Even if you do not have time to sit down and read, audiobooks work just as well. More than half of the 126 books I read were audiobooks. A way to ensure you have time to listen to audiobooks is to build them into things you already do. When you are driving, instead of listening to music, make it an audiobook instead. If you are cleaning or going for a walk, you can listen to an audiobook at the same time.
Part of the reason people are able to go through so many books is because they build in time when they can read or listen to a book. Something that reading 126 books in a year taught me was how to better utilize my time. We all have the same 24 hours in a day, and it is important to devote some of that time for personal growth.
What me reaching my goal means for you is that exponential change in our habits over a relatively short period of time is possible. Going from 16 to 126 books is no small leap, but it was possible by making the first step. If you have something you want to do that results in some kind of personal growth for you, whether it is reading more or something else, take the first step.
Plan out what you want to do and how you want to do it, then start moving forward.
Here is the link to the list of the books I have read from 2019 to present day – https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1EHcqbS2JCUlX0ggdze0eouMiynYDbP6eL1r94T9Vtuw/edit?usp=sharing
Evan Brooks is a third-year Business Management major with minors in Economics and Civil and Professional Leadership. EB916132@wcupa.edu