Lessons I Learned From Reading a Book a Week

book a week

I’ve read 37 books so far in 2018. I’m well on track to complete my goal of reading 52 books this year. This is the fourth year in a row that I’ve set this goal, and in the past 185 weeks I’ve read 200 books. That’s a lot of reading, and today I want to share with you some of the most important lessons I’ve picked up along the way.

1. There are too many books to read, and that’s exciting

When I started this book-a-week challenge my senior year of high school, I did it to help me power through the queue of books I wanted to read but hadn’t gotten around to yet. And you’d think that 200 books later, that to-read list would be obliterated. Actually, it’s longer than it’s ever been.

I used to let that get me down, feeling like there was no way I could ever get on top of all the books that I wanted to conquer. But now I find it exciting. There’s more knowledge out in the world than any one person could ever master, and that means that we get to keep learning our entire lives.

No matter what you’re interested in, you get to keep going deeper your whole life. That change of attitude means that when I look at my to-read list and the mountain of books on it, I feel so inspired to pick one up and hear what someone else has to say.

2. It’s okay to put down a bad book.

Some books aren’t good for you, whether they’re uninteresting or uninspiring, and some books just plain aren’t good. If getting through a book is a huge slog, it’s okay to put it down! For me, the most important thing is just that I keep reading and learning, and if I give a book a serious chance but I just can’t get into it, I move on and find something else that sets me on fire.

3. When someone reads a book I recommended to them, I feel like a superhero

The more I got into reading, the more I wanted to talk to the people in my life about what I read. I would recommend great books to my friends and family, and check back a few weeks or months later, hoping they had read the book and we could talk about it.

I found that people pretty much never actually read the books I suggested, which is okay—reading a book is a big commitment of time. But when they did pick up something I thought they’d like, I felt like a superhero, and it had a seriously beneficial impact on our relationship.

4. Some people have a fast-track of book recommendations

Because I feel so good when people read the books I suggest, I take other people’s book recommendations seriously. Generally when someone suggests a book to me, I put it into my reading queue on Goodreads, the website I use to keep track of the books I want to or have read.

But there are a couple of people—my dad, my boyfriend, my English-major friends—whose recommendations get special priority. These are the people who I know only suggest books to me that I’m going to love, so the books will almost certainly be good, and I know that if I read them I’ll get to spend time talking about them with the people who matter to me.

It’s hard to tell before you actually pick it up whether a book will be interesting (that’s why you can’t judge it by its cover!), so having a few trusted advisors on books to read helps me to increase the odds that a book I check out will be a great read. It’s a win-win.

5. Books can get expensive

That’s why I try to pay for as few as possible. I read a lot of ebooks, which tend to be cheaper than their physical counterparts, and I get a lot of books from the library. The bonus of library books is that because I need to return them eventually, I can’t just let them sit on my desk for months or years without being touched.

Here’s a tip for library books: Overdrive and other services let you download ebooks from the library, so you can read them at home without ever having to get off the couch.

You can also combine getting books for free with the previous tip on book recommendations. A lot of the books I read come from my family’s Kindle library, after one of my family members buys a book. At that point it’s free to me, and I know someone I care about likes it! This extends to physical books too—grabbing what your parents, siblings, and friends are reading (as long as you ask, and don’t grab it out of their hands!) can be a great way to bond.

I love to read, and between physical books, ebooks, and audiobooks, I get to learn so much about the world. Reading is a way to experience people in your life and people you’d never get to meet otherwise, and I’m so glad that I get to experience the joy of reading every day.

Cover image via WFL Children’s Room