Recently I completed a personal challenge — Year of Books (52 weeks, 52 books). I am sharing my experience of doing this. I hope your next few minutes will be worthy of your time
(Tip: I tried to keep all topics in question format, either read completely or browse through the questions(topics) first and read which interests you the best).
If you like to check my Read list from June 2016– June 2017. You can see them here goo.gl/PbrwLr
Why did I take this challenge?
There are set of reasons why I did this.
- Motivation to read: I have been reading books before taking up this challenge too but i always made sure those are tiny and easy books that i can complete faster but last year(march 2016 around) i brought few books(Animal Farm, Old man and the sea, couple of others). I somehow got gravitated towards to read a lot more. Those books made me feel i have been missing great literature for so many years.
- Time Productiveness: Around the same time while i was getting gravitated towards books. I installed a chrome plugin that tracks time about website i visit. Facebook seems to occupy 1.5 hours while youtube 0.5 hours. I really thought i can better read books instead of spending time here unproductively.
- Getting to understand grey area: My Ex-Boss(Srinivas Kollipara) used to say i see the world black and white. I wanted to understand the grey area. I should say fiction helped me in it pretty well(Okay, i am better than before for sure).
How did I plan to read the books?
- Genres: I picked up half my books with good fiction books for same reason. I picked the other half for self improvement, skill development and domain knowledge. I tried to keep this small list a little diverse.
- Selection of Books: As per selection of books, i have spent enough time researching about the books, its reviews on Good Reads , amazon reviews and actually reading the first few pages completely which is given in the Amazon Preview. I made sure I read the best books from best authors.
- Reading Speed: I figured I read 20 pages an hour. An average book is of 240 pages. I know for sure I need to read at least 2 hours a day to read a 240 pages book on average.
- Goal Setting: 52 books and 52 weeks is a tight schedule but if done every day, its easy to achieve. I divided my goal on monthly basis. I plan for 4 books for next 4 weeks and I know for sure that if i am missing any of the week, it would effect in the end so i made it a practice to hit 4 books every 4 weeks.
Have I been consistent reading books every day?
I actually couldn't be consistent in a couple of months(around Nov-16 and April-17) in the whole year. I pushed myself to read more in the following months.
Have I tried to hack the challenge?
Well, I used some fillers for sure. Couple of times with Agatha Christie books(300 pages ones but mystery which is a page turner) and I had few 100–150 page books(Tao Te Ching, Art of War, The King of Dark chambers, The Wanderer and few likes) But I made sure I maintained the quality of books and something I can be proud of(a little).
Do I see change in myself?
Yeah, I feel I am a better person now. I have few world view changes for sure and yes, i can start seeing some grey area in the world. Now it seems the world isn't as fair as I had always had in mind but when you can see the patterns, you can actually act towards it in a a better way making you a better person of yourself in those situations.
Am I a different person now?
When you tend to understand a little better than before, you will act a differently than before. I mean to say, you are still the same person with better senses. I am not sure if I have to say I am a changed person but I have few little better Instincts for sure.
Is 52 Books, 52 Weeks a big deal?
It is a perception. I have come across people who have read, 72,100 and 120 books an year. I know someone who read 200 books, 400+ books and so on. When I think about them I see myself a long way to go to explore. But when I compare to myself before, I see I have picked up a little well in reading. I am happy to have picked it up.
What new things I did after picking this challenge?
Story Telling: I am trying to be a better story teller and like to pursue it. Story telling has a lot magic that it can do both in professional and personal life. It helps people to understand you better and to captivate their attention. I feel I am just understanding to get started.
Writing: I haven't written much but in some situations I do feel like writing. While most of them wont last few lines, but before picking up this challenge I never attempted to write. While I dint capture any of them for some reason I do not know, But a couple of them are on Kahaniya ( I just started, please consider that I am only a beginner before you open the Kahaniya Link)
Nothingness: These days I am gravitated to think about Nothingness. I mean, I started to believe that everything started from nothing but which is something. I am not sure if I am making sense to you at this point but I am trying to understand about this. (Code Name God book has good Influence on me because its too logical of parallel between science and spirituality)
Do I want to read any of the books again?
I highly doubt about Fiction but Business and self help books, there would be few times I like to revise as and when needed. I know what book has what content to give.
Do I remember everything I read?
Nope, thats an obvious answer. But sure, whatever has been read has Influenced me in small way which would long last.
What next in the books side of life now?
Since I know i have limited time to cover each book, I started to keep aside an amazing set of books which are 400+ or so (Steve Jobs, The Fountain Head, Thinking fast and slow, catch-22, Guns Germs and Steel, etc,.) I want to read these books before end of year while I also cover few other amazing books thats been pending on my list.
How do I plan while buying books?
I made a wish list on amazon and I keep tracking the book prices. Whenever some book price drops, I buy them. Generally I like to spend for a book between Rs.100 to Rs.250 but there are few books I brought for Rs.500 and around. I have few books on list which are Rs.1000+ and planning to buy them too (some time soon may be). So I actually try to keep my spent minimum while buying amazing books.
What Books I like the most?(and like to recommend)
I picked up the best books after reading but I am trying to categories a few here and make few in top list.
Fiction: Siddartha, Catcher in the Rye, 1984, The Kite Runner, To kill a Mocking bird, and then there were none(Mystery), Menakas Choice(Indian Mythology), A year in Provence.
Business: The Irresistible Offer, The advantage, Zero to One, Gamification by Design, Trust me I’m Lying, Growth Hacker Marketing, BrandWashed, Pitch Anything, Hooked, The Ultimate Sales Machine, Sprint.
Self Improvement, Psychology and Others: Influence, How to win friends and Influence people, Think and Grow Rich, The Checklist Manifesto, DeepWork, Remote, The Code of Extraordinary Mind, The Prophet.
Good Books but not to read: All these books are too tragedy and I might not want to read these books again for intensity and depth of tragedy that can effect and stir your emotions — First Love and other stories, Lord of the Flies(too dystopian), The Great Gatsby, The Broken Wings, The Vegetarian
Master Pieces: Irrespective of genre, I consider these as master pieces in writing — Catcher in the Rye, 1984, Think and Grow Rich, To kill a Mocking Bird, How to Win Friends and Influence people, Influence, Zero to One, The Prophet, The Ultimate Sales Machine, Code Name God, And then there were none, BrandWashed, Hooked, Menakas Choice, The art of seduction.
If you have suggestions for new books. I would be glad to hear. Hope you had something to take back reading this. Appreciate you reading till the end.
Here is my reading list again — goo.gl/PbrwLr
— Manoj Surya