“Books are a uniquely, portable magic.” Stephen King
I’m in my third year of creating a reading challenge.
Here’s a quick recap.
- In 2016, my goal was 52 books. I read 53 books and 13,064 pages.
- In 2017, my goal was 30 books. I read 38 books and 11,715 pages.
In 2018, my goal was 30 books. I had hoped to write more in 2018. While the extra writing didn’t happen, I did exceed my reading goal quite a bit, reading 47 books and 13,018 pages.
By now you know I use Goodreads to track my challenge. Goodreads is a mobile app (and website) that includes book reviews, recommendations, social sharing with friends and the ability to create a catalogue of books you have read, are currently reading or want to read.
I use the app’s Reading Challenge to track my progress. It is also nice to have one place to track recommendations I receive from friends or books I read about that I want to add to my reading list.
Goodreads also provides statistics about my reading challenge.
I was in good company with my goal. More than four million readers joined the Challenge and collectively read 55.9 million books with 696,000 readers successfully completing their Challenge. The average books pledged per reader were 61.
The shortest book I read was 26 pages (The Coaching Mindset) and the longest was 663 pages (Elizabeth the Queen: The Life of a Modern Monarch). My average book length was 276 pages. The most popular book I read was The Alchemist (read by 1.8 million readers). The highest rated of my books was “Remember Who You Are” by Paula Brown Stafford and Lisa Grimes. I was pleased to see this because Paula and Lisa are North Carolina executives from the clinical research industry (now serving as consultants), and this is their first book. Their success speaks to the power of grassroots efforts to build an audience.
Why Do We Read?
Reading was always my favorite activity. Growing up, I had a Raleigh rural route address in eastern Wake County. We never had a mobile ice-cream truck visit, but I remember when the bookmobile, a mobile reading van, traveled through. Instead of ordering a cone from the window, you were invited inside a van to peruse and check out books, children and adults alike.
We also used to visit the Richard B. Harrison Library with my mom and sister before I started elementary school. We traveled all the way into Raleigh to visit the library. We were thrilled when the first library opened in Knightdale, just minutes from our home. We made weekly trips, and each of us took a canvas tote bag and we could take home as many books as our bag would hold.
I always had a book on me. Once, as a 12-year-old, I was sitting in church waiting for a funeral to begin. My mother was horrified to look over and see me reading a paperback book. In the way that only moms can do, she leaned over in her church voice and had a few serious words with me about my lack of respect. As I put the book away, I struggled to see how the dearly departed would be offended by my sitting quietly and reading, but of course, I kept those thoughts to myself.
There are many reasons to read. To learn from the past, to gain exposure to new concepts, to learn about the world and people that we don’t have a chance to meet. We learn how to form arguments and debate, we learn empathy and sympathy. We can laugh and escape our troubles, or we can weep and develop compassion.
Sometimes I read books because I feel I need to be exposed to certain authors even if I don’t enjoy the book entirely, (John Steinbeck, I’m looking at you). There are also bragging rights when you have read the great works of literature.
Reading young adult fiction is a great way to connect to your kids or in my case, nieces and nephews. For my introverted nephew who isn’t a big talker, it was nice to be able to share our enjoyment of Harry Potter and The Hunger Games series and then to see the movies together.
Reading good writing makes us better writers. This is why Stephen King reads more than 100 books a year. While I don’t enjoy scary books, I loved his 850-page tome “11/22/63”, about a time traveler trying to stop the JFK assassination. His book “On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft” is my favorite book about becoming a better writer.
Goodreads 2019 Reading Challenge
On January 1, I set my new Reading Challenge. I’m going for 52 books again.
As of January 3, there are 670,322 participants in the 2019 Goodreads Reading Challenge. On average, readers set their goal at 49 books and pledged to read more than 33 million books.
Join me in setting your own reading challenge for 2019. Check back tomorrow as I discuss some of my favorite books and on the final day, I will share my book list and reflections from my year in books.
Camille Stell is the President of Lawyers Mutual Consulting & Services. Continue this conversation by contacting Camille at firstname.lastname@example.org or 800.662.8843.