The Reading Challenge: 52+ Books This Year

The Reading Challenge- 52+ Books This Year
One of the resolutions I make every year is to read 52 books a year.  At the end of last year, as I started following more and more bibliophiles on Instagram, I was shocked to see that some people read over 100 books by the end of the year.  I could never imagine doing that feat.  52 books seemed doable, even though that resolution went to the wayside over these last couple of years.

This year, I wanted to make sure I didn’t just read 52 books, but that I read MORE THAN 52 books this year.

My method of attack is this:

  1.  Read 50+ pages every day.  On the weekends, read 100+ pages.
  2. While you’re at work, walking, doing dishes, getting ready for work, listen to audio books.
  3. Once a month, do a quick read that’s less than 150 pages.
  4. Finish books you started in the past, but never finished.

After seeing all of the different Instagram challenges, I thought I’d do my own to get people to challenge themselves to read more this year.

Here is how the challenge works:

  1. Choose a Reward for Yourself.  Pick out an item that you really want, that you could save for along this journey.  Be it a vacation, a luxury handbag, a pair of obscenely overpriced shoes, a class you’ve always wanted to take…pick something that would be considered a serious treat for yourself.  You should reward yourself for a job well done.  Make sure this is something you’re going to enjoy!
  2. Come up with a pricing system.  This will depend on the price of the item you are saving for and what you can afford.  For instance, I reward myself if I don’t purchase the book.  If it was free, a library book, or a gift, I put away $25 after I’ve completed the book.  If it’s a classic (a more challenging smart book), I reward myself $100.  If it’s a book for Book Club that I purchased, I allow myself $20.  If I purchased the book in order to read it, because I just had to have it, only the retail price listed on the book goes into the reward jar, and the amount I actually paid for the book comes out of the reward jar.  Taking the money out of the reward jar to pay for the book is my way of making sure I don’t spend money on unnecessary purchases.  The only exception to purchasing the book is if it is for the Book Club.  If the book is currently in my personal library, because I am making it a challenge to read what’s actually in my personal library this year, I’m rewarding myself $50 per book completed.That’s the reward system I’ve set up for myself.  As you can see, the books I really want to challenge myself to read more of, I set the prize at a higher price in order to encourage myself to read more of those books.
  3. Keep track of what you read.  I used to keep track in a journal of what I read every year, including the amount I earned.  Now, I keep track in my calendar.  I keep stickers handy so I can place a sticker on the days where I completed a book.  It’s a good way to visually see my progress and if I’m staying on track with a book a week (at the minimum).
  4. Don’t dip into the reward jar until the first day of the year.  I’m speaking from experience here.  You are doing two things for yourself…you are working hard towards a goal and you need to learn to save for the reward at the end of the journey.  It is no fun if you get to the end of the journey and realize there’s no reward money there because you spent it already.For many people (including myself), saving money can be very difficult when we live in a society where we get what we want, when we want it.  We don’t save for the future or save for something we want.  Since I started the KonMari method, I have stopped the consumer cycle.  I was literally overflowing with stuff.  I vowed that if I wanted something new, I would have to save for it using the reading challenge.  I’m not allowed to buy the item now.  I have to work towards earning the right to have that item, so that I would appreciate it more in the end because I would know how hard I worked to earn that item.Keep the money in a safe place.  Keep it safe from yourself (if you think you’re going to dip into the jar).  Earn some interest off the money while you save.  Just keep plugging at that savings and don’t touch it until January 1st.

But It’s March

Ok.  I know I started this challenge for you to join in March.  If you’re a bibliophile, you’ve probably already read at least 10 books this year already, so you are on track.  If you are starting from scratch, we can go at this in 2 different ways.  You can either: 1) fast track (and over the months I’ll tell you how) or 2) do this as a full 52-week challenge, let the challenge run through 2017 and you can access that cash on March 1, 2017.

Whichever method you decide to do, I’ll be helping you along.

For those who are Amazon Prime members, I’ll be making recommendations from the Kindle First collection.  If you choose the same book that month, I’ll have a Book Club sign up where we can discuss the book at the end of the month.  [Amazon Prime members can choose one book each month from the Kindle First collection.  These are books selected by the Amazon editors to read prior to the book’s release date.  If you’re an Amazon Prime member, this is part of your membership, no extra charge.]

For those who need to get their extra books in via audio books, I highly recommend Kindle Unlimited.  It’s around $10/month to access many books on your Kindle device or app.  Just make sure when you select the book to borrow that it says Read and Listen For Free on the tab.  If it doesn’t, you may have to pay extra for the Whispersync/Audible audio recordings.  What about Audible membership?  Audible is $14.95/month and that’s just for one audio book a month.  Kindle Unlimited with Whispersync/Audible allows you to read the book and if you need to put the book down, you can switch it to audio and listen until you can read the book again.  Audible doesn’t allow that.  It’s just the audio book.

The only reason you should have Audible is if you want a book that is not audio available on Kindle Unlimited.  I used Audible for Book Club selections when I was having problems getting back into the swing of reading books again after my surgery.  2016 is actually the first time I’ve actively been reading a lot of books since my surgery in 2013.  I didn’t want to give up Book Club, so I listened to the books until I got comfortable with reading books again.  So if you’re concerned about not being able to read as much, seriously consider audio books.  You can listen to them wherever you go when you can’t pick up the physical book.

The March Challenge

March Books

So here’s the March challenge.  We essentially have five weeks this month.  Your focus is going to read/listen to no less than five books.  Here are the five books I’ll be reading.

    1. Kindle First [TBD]
    2. Book Club Selection – A Confederacy of Dunces (falls into the Classic category)
    3. A book about the Circus – Water for Elephants: A Novel (this book is available with audio for Kindle Unlimited members, remember to look for the ‘Read and Listen for Free’ option)
    4. A short book [TBD]
    5. A book about Time Travel – Time’s Divide (The Chronos Files) (next book in the Chronos Files series, also a Kindle Unlimited book)

Anything beyond five books is a free for all.

For those not in a book club, I highly recommend joining a book club.  You can find these at your local library or bookstore.  It’s a great way for you to meet other bibliophiles such as yourself.  It gives great insight into the book that you may not have even realized while you were reading.  It’s also a good way to meet new people and make new friends.  Books are meant to be shared.

If you don’t want to join a book club, since our book club is reading a classic, you can substitute option #2 with a classic or read what we’re reading.

For the Amazon Prime members that choose the same Kindle First book as I do and want to join in our own book club, please comment below, tweet me (@MichelleDoPW or @MichelleKenneth), ping me on Facebook, or tag me on Instagram (@diaryofaperfectionistwannabe).  I’ll share the additional details in an upcoming post.

For those taking the March Challenge, ping me on social media using the hashtag #PWMarchBooks so that we can all find each other and share what we’re reading this month.  I’ll Repost/Retweet, etc. so we can all connect to each other.

* For those playing catch-up, include a short book of poetry and choose at least 2 books this month that are less than 150 pages.  If you can, try to boost your reading by listening to a couple of audio books.  You can listen to these in the car, at work, while you’re working out, walking, etc.