200 Books in 365 Days

courtney sembler

It would take you 7,080 minutes or 118 hours to watch every episode of Friends.

But how many hours would it take to read 200 books?

The average novel (non-fiction) runs 50,000 words.

The average American reads somewhere between 200–400wpm.

If you take 50,000 words x 200 books you have 10 million words.

10 millions words at 400wpm is 25,000 minutes.

And that calculates out to about 417 hours. Now this is estimate. But if you were to watch every episode of Friends in one year you could only get through about 3 times.

I know this because I have done so. I have spent many years of my life watching Friends. Ask my mother. She regrets gifting me the Box Set of Friends when it was released to DVD. I never owned a Video Game or knew how to play Mario-Kart but I could recite lines of Friends like I had written them myself.

Each year I would spend well over 118 hours of my time watching Friends. But at the end of 2016 I reflected on this time I had spent with these characters. Characters that now felt like friends of my own and wondered where else could I spent my time. Where else could I help grow and expand my own mind?

Warren Buffett was once asked about his secret to success. Buffett pointed to a stack of books and said,

“Read 500 pages like this every day. That’s how knowledge works. It builds up, like compound interest. All of you can do it, but I guarantee not many of you will…”

As I closed my eyes on December 31st 2016 I had one goal in mind: Read 200 books in 365 Days and change the way I spend my time.

As I set out on this journey I was not vocal about it in the early parts of 2017. Mostly because I was afraid I wasn’t going to be able to it. But as January breezed by with stories, new characters and new worlds that I dove into I found that this goal was something that just might change my life.

Like any good goal I set out some guidelines to make sure I stayed on track.

  1. Real books only! That means no Kindle, no iPhone — must be paper.
  2. No Audio books — have to read the words myself
  3. Dedicate each month to a specific theme
  4. Have to finish the whole books (no half books)
  5. No books of poetry (this made me sad but I couldn't include them in my full 200 books)

These guidelines would help keep me focused and moving towards this goal. Now that 2017 has passed I am extremely proud to say that I did indeed read 200 books in 365 days!

As December 31st of 2017 rolled into view I spent the last few moments lost in a world created by James Patterson and his epic Women’s Murder Club stories. The book felt light as I breezed through the last 24 hours of my goal and of his world.

As the book ended, a tear trickled down my cheek. I had spent an entire year with new characters, new adventures, new learnings and developing my own mind. A book isn’t just a bunch pages glued together but an adventure you can go on from the comfort of your own home, on your commute to work, in a sunny park or on a winters day.

To me this goal initially was all about what I could learn from the words that would be printed on those pages but something bigger happened. I found adventures that made my heart race and characters that inspired me to chase after real dreams.

This is a goal I encourage anyone and everyone to try. But be realistic with yourself. It doesn't have to be 200, it could be a book a month or even just 12 books in 12 months. Find books that inspire you and take those characters into your own world and let them help you chase your dreams.

As this goal closed and I moved into 2018 with new goals I was asked a few questions about the last year that I want to answer them to help guide you with your own goals.

Would you read 200 books in one year again?

Honestly? No. It was a big accomplishment but I don’t think that I would read 200 again in one year. I want to set new goals and try to achieve those.

Have you read any books in 2018 or are you back to watching Friends?

Ha ha. Well I will admit I spent the first few days of 2018 hanging out in Central Perk with some old buddies but in January of 2018 I have already read two books and just started ‘Freedom Found: My Life Story’ Warren Millers auto-biography.

Did you ever feel like you weren’t going to finish?

Ever day. But thats the thing about pushing yourself, it’s not easy.

That’s why we call it a struggle. You’re supposed to sweat”- Blue Scholars

What were some of your favorite books?

All of them! I did have a few amazing books I read that I have detailed below and encourage anyone to pick up:

The Final Girls by Riley Sagar

Wild by Cheryl Strayed ( I waited to read this book with this goal because of how impactful I thought it would be — I was right to wait!)

Start With Why by Simon Sinek

Radical Candor by Kim Scott

Disrupt Yourself by Whitney Johnson (and then I interviewed her!)

Your Brain at Work by David Rock

Girl Code by Cara Alwill Leyba

The Imagineering Pyramid by Louis J Prosperi

Nancy Thayers entire collection of Nantucket Books

Get your sh*t together by Sarah Knight

Murder House by James Patterson

The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware

The Perfect Stranger by Megan Miranda

Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll

These are just a few of the amazing books I read that I recommend picking up.

What are your tips for completing this goal?

This is a great question and I will preface it with it might be different for you than it was for me. One thing that made me so successful in completely this goal is that I live alone. When I came home from work every day I didn’t have any other responsibilities other than myself. I have outlined below my top 5 tips on achieving this goal:

  1. Treat your reading like ‘binge watching’. Make it fun and exciting. Think about the characters or the topic you are reading about like you would a TV Show and every time you put it down it’s like having to wait a week to watch the next episode.
  2. Carve out specific time to read. For me this was always after work but it could be in the morning or during lunch but make sure no matter what you set aside time each day to read and if you find more time great but make sure you have dedicated time every day regardless.
  3. Find an accountabilabuddy. Find someone to share your goal with that will text you every day to turn off the TV. For instance, I set a reminder every day for Siri to tell me that I needed to read. Doesn’t have to be anyone more than a timer on your phone but make sure you have one.
  4. Create themes. This one helped me a lot. Each month I selected a theme in which I was going to commit to. For instance, January was filled only by female authors. Finding themes helped the months go by and make it easier to draw connections between different authors and ideas.
  5. Take notes. Mark up every book you read even if it’s just for pleasure. Now as I flip through the pages of those books I can see areas that I loved or places that confused me. This was huge in learning and finding areas that I wanted to explore more.

Bonus #6: Don’t give away your books… I wish I had the picture of all 200 books now.

I tried to take a picture of all the books I read over 2017 but I did pass along a few to friends and family as well as donate some to my local library so the picture below does not represent all 200 but the ones I still have in my house.

Please let me know if you decide to commit to this goal and reach out to me!

A huge shout-out goes to my family that supported me over Christmas while I read my last 3 books of the year.

@CSembler — Twitter

courtney sembler

Written by

Manager, @HubSpotAcademy Education, Avid Skier, Hiker and Sports Fan #goniners and Email Geek

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