Read a Book a Week in 2017

How I Became a Reader Again in 2016

According to Goodreads, I read 58 books and just under 18,000 pages this year. I did this after reading 15 books in 2015 and probably a grand total of 15 in the previous ten years.

The rise and fall of my reading life

Growing up, I was a pretty typical kid and I loved to read. I remember going to the library with my mom and picking books out all the time. The earliest series I remember really digging into was Brian Jacques’ Redwall books, a series about a warrior mouse. I read the first eight books starting in the early ‘90s.

When I got a bit older I was really into John Grisham and read every book of his that I could get my hands on starting with his classics like A Time to Kill, The Firm, and The Rainmaker. Like Brian Jacques before him, I read just about every Grisham book published before I headed to college in 2000.

That’s when I stopped reading for fun. With all the assigned reading in college and plenty of other distractions, reading books for pleasure just wasn’t one of my top priorities anymore.

Fast-forward a few years to my first several years in the workforce, and most of my reading time was taken up by reading business & news magazines and online articles related to my job. That definitely helped me professionally and kept me on top of the quickly changing world of digital media and marketing, but I still didn’t really realize what I was missing.

My wife taught me to love reading again…

My wife is an avid reader and if we aren’t busy working on something around the house, taking care of our kids, or watching something on TV, she’s reading a book. Whenever I would sit down and relax by scrolling through Facebook, she’d be glued to a book. Watching her read for years had a big impact on me, but I didn’t realize it until 2016.

…and Rob Thomas helped

No, not that Rob Thomas. This one.

My wife and I got hooked on Veronica Mars and a few years after the series ended, creator Rob Thomas announced he was releasing some Veronica Mars books. It was the first time I had been excited about a book in quite some time.

I fell in love with the characters on the show, pre-ordered the Kindle versions of the first two books, and devoured them in short order. I was hooked. I think it really helped that I came into the story already knowing the characters. I now realize that’s why I’m so drawn to books that are part of a series — so I can read more and more stories about characters I care about.

Steps to take so you can read more in 2017

I increased the number of books I read in 2016 by a lot, and it was easier than I though it would be. Here are a few things I learned about reading in 2016:

Only read books you like

While I finished 58 books in 2016, I started and abandoned another 20-25. I even pushed through and finished a few books I probably shouldn’t have.

There are too many good books out there to slog through books you don’t like. — @jeremyawilliams

Once you start reading some different books, you’ll get a feel for the types of books you do and don’t enjoy. If you get 30 pages (or around 10% on a Kindle book) into a book and you’re not into it, just move on. It’ll leave more time to read the stuff you really like.

Make reading a priority

If you’re lucky enough to take public transportation to and from work, you’ve got time built in each day to read. If not, you can still prioritize reading.

I found that when I started prioritizing reading, I’d take the time I would have spent scrolling through Facebook and would instead spend it reading. I realized I was actually happier spending that time in a book than mindlessly scrolling through Facebook’s never-ending newsfeed.

Take full advantage of your library

Your dusty old library card still works, I promise! Get it out and head to your local library. If you haven’t used your library in a while, it’s probably easier than you think to find books to read on their website or at the physical library.

Most libraries have a pretty wide selection of e-books and audiobooks you can check out without ever having to leave your house. When I started reading ebooks is when my reading exploded. I usually have between 2 and 5 e-books on hold at my library and I read them when they’re available.

Consider buying a Kindle

This is one of the biggest reasons I read as much as I did this year. I tried for years to read books on my iPad, but it wasn’t nearly as comfortable to try and read on a bright screen and with so many notifications popping up, it was really tough to stay focused on the book.

You can get a baseline Kindle for under $80. I opted for the Kindle Paperwhite because of the backlit screen — well worth the extra $40. If you’re an Amazon Prime member you get access to a free pre-release book every month, the free Kindle Owners Lending Library, (1 book per month) and a selection of Prime Reading books.

Listen to audiobooks (it’s not cheating!)

For the past several years, I’ve listened to a few audiobooks each year. With a 25-minute commute each way to and from work, I can get a book finished fairly quickly.

There’s no shame in listening to audiobooks instead of reading. It’s a great way to pass the time during your commute, while cleaning the house, or taking care of yard work.

This year, I even found myself listening to a book while I was reading another one at home. It’s especially helpful to get through a really large book. Two of the audiobooks I listened to this year (I Am Pilgrim— Terry Hayes, and The Angel’s Game— Carlos Ruiz Zafón) were well over 550 pages each.

Check out some podcasts to learn about great books

I learned about a handful of my favorite books of the year from two of my favorite podcasts.

All The Books

All The Books — Book Riot

All The Books is a great weekly podcast hosted by Rebecca Schinsky and Liberty Hardy of Book Riot. Rebecca and Liberty take turns talking about a new released they loved and go through 5–6 books per week. I discovered these books in 2016 because of All The Books:

Listen to All The Books via iTunes or Google Play

What Should I Read Next?

What Should I Read Next?

What Should I Read Next? is a roughly-weekly podcast hosted by Anne Bogel of Modern Mrs. Darcy. My wife turned me on to this podcast that follows a simple formula. Anne has a guest on the show that talks about their reading life and answers three simple questions. What are three books you love, one book you hate, and what do you want to be different about your reading life? Armed with those answers, Anne finds three books her guest should read next.

This podcast was my first deep dive into book recommendations and I read these books in 2016 because of What Should I Read Next?

Listen to What Should I Read Next? via iTunes or Google Play

Need an idea of some books to start with?

Out of the 58 books I read in 2016, I had a few favorites. You can read more about my favorite books of 2016 here, but below are just a few books I gave 5 stars to in 2016: