How to Read One-Hundred Books in a Year

That’s two books a week! You’re going to need to get organised!

Way, way back in 2012 I set myself the New Year’s resolution of reading 100 books in the year. And not just any old books, those classics of literature that you tell yourself you’ll read one day. Those mighty tomes, sitting up on your shelf, mocking you with their presence – Moby Dick, The Tin Drum, Anna Karenina, Ulysses.

First things first, decide what books you want to read. This is the fun bit! If you’re anything like me, choosing books is a little bit like being a kid in a sweet shop.

I looked at three different ‘100 best’ lists and picked the ones I hadn’t read yet or that sounded intriguing. You could try these lists for some inspiration:

The Guardian, 100 best novels

TIME, 100 best non-fiction books

Keeping Track

I recommend using goodreads to track your progress, you can create a custom bookshelf to tag all the books you’re going to read, like I did here: My Goodreads, 100 book challenge list

Then, when you’ve finished a book you can use goodreads to mark it as ‘read’ so you know how many you’ve got left to do. Goodreads can also help plan your reading by showing you how many page numbers there are for each book.

If you don’t want to use goodreads find a method that works for you – spreadsheet, bit of paper, tally stick… whatever!

Getting Books

When you have to read two books a week, it’s worth planning what you’ll be reading a couple of weeks in advance – you can’t afford to waste time waiting for books to arrive!

Buying books and owning a hard-copy is an undeniable pleasure but it can get expensive, that’s why it’s good to get organised. If you like ebooks, the good news is you can get lots of the classics (pre-1920s) via the Gutenberg Project. My local library now does an ebook lending scheme, which is getting better all the time, so it’s worth checking to see if yours does the same.

The other benefit of ebooks is that you can use up all those wasted minutes of the day to read – queuing, waiting around. Or multi-task reading and other activities.

Starting

You’ve decided on your books and set a start-date. Now let’s get on with it!

Reading 100 books in a year is a big undertaking. It’s something you have to dedicate time to. You can’t just rely on that half-an-hour slot before bedtime to get the job done (unless you’re speed-reading, but these are books you are going to want to savour).

I pretty much stopped watching TV in order to fit in enough hours of the day. And, as my husband will probably tell you, I became pretty anti-social too. My reading speed is about a page a minute. My list contained books that ranged from 100 pages up to 1300, with the average somewhere around the 200-300 mark. So in an average week I would be aiming to read 600 pages – that’s ten hours of reading.

It’s good to switch it up. With 100 books to read, swap from long books to short books, fiction to non-fiction, classics to modern – you get the idea!

My craziest day was the 16th of June – Bloomsday when a friend challenged me to read the entirety of Ulysses. I tried, I really did. Non-stop reading, all day. But at about 2am, with 100 pages to go my eyes gave up on me!

At some point, during this hectic year, you might want to give up. You’ll be behind on your reading schedule, feeling burnt out or you just fancy reading something trashy. It’s good to have a few ‘light-relief’ books lined up – I put some Ian Fleming (James Bond) books in – they’re still classics and great books but much shorter and lighter than some of my others. Don’t be afraid to change your list mid-challenge. If you can’t get hold of one of the books or can’t get into a book swap it out and choose another.

Reflections

I finished my challenge (but it was pretty close). Attempting War and Peace at the end was a bad idea. Honestly, even avid all those brilliant books there are some that have faded into the background that I can barely remember reading and others that stand out like brilliant diamonds that I want to return to.

If you’re thinking of starting your own challenge, let me know, post your own reading list and keep me updated. And good luck!

 

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