Like any other bookworm, in 2016, I started tracking my reading progress on Goodreads.
In 2017, I pushed myself to read and finish many books because I wanted my Goodreads stat to display a boastful number. I read 15,000 pages and finished 61 books in 2017. This is how it looked in Goodreads —
I graduated in 2018 and started working full time. Due to the new routine and shortage of time, I prioritized and asked myself — why am I even doing this?
Honestly, I don’t remember a lot of what I learned from the books I read in 2017. I read only 38 books in 2018, i.e., 23 books fewer than the previous year. But I read better — I absorbed better — I learned better.
That was the moment I decided — let’s focus more on learning. Instead of reading many books, I wanted to read a few, but apply whatever I am reading. Tracking these lower counts made me feel incompetent.
I was judging myself — comparing myself with others who read 100 books a year. So, in 2020 I stopped counting how many books I am finishing.
The question is — Why do I choose not to count the books I’m reading?
Books Are Not the Only Form of Information
I am a “text” person. I prefer text over video or audio any day. I read a lot of online articles, blog posts, etc.
In December 2019, I was reading about 20–25k words every day. That’s like one book every third day. But they don’t count, right?
If you’re an audio-person and you listen to a podcast every day from James Altucher instead of reading his dozen books, I am sure you’d still gain a lot of perspective from the podcasts, even if you don’t read his books.
The question here is — why do you want to read?
If you want to read YA novels, maybe podcasts, or online articles that don’t even make sense to you — that’s fine. If your aim to gain knowledge, it’s better to try different sources and different media.
I’m going to say it out loud (and try not to hate me) — books are not always the best source of knowledge.
The Sin of Leaving Books Unfinished
70–80% of self-help books convey the same message packaged differently. Do you have the ability to leave books unfinished?
I reread books to revise what I have learned. And sometimes I read the same 80% of the newly packaged same information from a different book — because that’s my goal of reading. I want to constantly embrace the truth and live the lessons I am learning.
I don’t read fiction or autobiographies; you might love those. And maybe you’d like to finish the books you start.
Do you also leave books unfinished? If you do… do you still count them in the “I finished XX books this year” statement?
My New Ways of Reading Books Now
I am reading every night before I sleep.
My target is to finish a chapter of any book that’s on my nightstand or 20–30 pages, whichever I prefer when I’m reading. Or on the days when I am tired and don’t want to read, I still pick a book and read one page.
In 2020, I experimented with a few ways of reading books. Here are they —
Author recommendations instead of book recommendations
I explored Gabrielle Bernstein and Karma Yeshe Rabgye as authors I didn’t explore previously. I read three books from Gabby and two from Karma Yeshe Rabgye.
It takes a few months to a few years for authors to write a book. It’s so refreshing to see how an author’s views mature from one book to the other.
Multiple books at a time — Finishing chapters v/s books
Currently, I have half a dozen books on my nightstand. Every night, I pick one of them randomly I wish to read, and I focus on finishing a chapter of it.
I did this in 2020 — reading multiple books at a time and focussing on finishing chapters instead of finishing books.
I tried these self-help and spiritual books like deep conversations with grandparents. They teach you about life, one chapter at a time, one conversation a day.
Rereading previous books
Two-three times a month, I change a few books from my nightstand, and most of the time, I add one previously-read book to revise the concepts and lessons.
(Note — Bear in mind that the links in this post may be Amazon Affiliate links. I receive a small amount of compensation when you purchase from my links, which I’ll totally blow on buying and reading more books.)
Here are the books I am reading at the moment —
- Think Like a Monk by Jay Shetty
- Judgment Detox by Gabrielle Bernstein
- The Best Way to Catch a Snake by Karma Yeshe Rabgye
- The Art of Happiness by Dalai Lama
- No Mud, No Lotus by Thich Nhat Hanh
- On the Shortness of Life by Seneca
I believe some trends are good for a person if they can introduce a productive new concept in the person’s life. Counting books is a great way to get into reading, that’s how I started reading books.
When we’re done with the show-off, we need to ask ourselves a few questions.
A few questions to improve your reading experience
- Why do I want to read the books?
- What’s the topic I want to learn more about?
- Who’s the best author that has impacted my life the most? Are there any of his books I haven’t read yet?
- When I don’t finish a book, I felt it was boring/repetitive/unimportant to me personally… what is it making me feel?
- Can I decide to pause reading books for a week and explore blog writers or podcasters?
Here’s the best one —
Am I open to try and receive better information/entertainment from any other source than books?