Q: Books — How would your life be different if you read 100 books in one year?

A: You’d be twice as well-read as Bill Gates. You’d learn some new words, gain some new perspectives, and be mostly the same as before.

I’m almost 3/4 of the way through the year 2017, and I’ve read or listened to 72 books (and counting). They range from fiction that inspired new movies or Netflix series that I wanted to absorb in their original form before mass market release (because I’m a snob), to mindfulness, spirituality training and self help guides, to LOTS of celebrity memoirs.

I’ve always loved fiction and disappearing into a new world, but this year my choices have strayed far into the nonfiction realm.

I walk to work a few times a week, so I have a few readily available hours for audiobook absorption built into my schedule. And since my mind wanders frequently, I tend to choose things that won’t come back to bite if I zone out for a few sentences (this is where the celeb memoirs come in).

Recently, while out for beers, I forced a friend to listen while I scrolled through my entire Goodreads history for the year and gave her one sentence summaries of everything I’ve read since January 1. She wasn’t thrilled, but she said she’d add a few to her reading list.

At a digital marketing conference I attended this spring, I hit it off with another bibliophile and we connected on Goodreads before sharing our usernames for any other social media platform. That’s how you know it’s real.

I also started a Twitter account (@100booksperyear) to document key insights I’ve gained on my reading journey. It’s public, but it’s intended as a personal record of what resonates with me in the moment. I do a lot of walking, tweeting, and book listening at the same time. Does reading make me a better multitasker? TBD.

Highlights from Twitter include: “the trouble with books is you don’t know what’s in them until it’s too late” (My Life With Bob, Pamela Paul); “You can’t win an argument” (How To Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie); and “If you can conquer the fear, you will fly” (What I Know For Sure, Oprah Winfrey).

By looking back on my read list (and looking forward to my to-read list) I can tell a lot about my {developing, constant and fleeting} interests and mental state. I’m in an introspective phase. I’m in a self improvement phase. I have a lot of questions and I’m not confident in many answers. I’m 25.

I’m turning to people who have come before me, been through the same struggles I’ve gone through and persevered to provide me guidance. Show me your ways old masters!

I’m also gaining perspective and enlarging my world by learning about and from people who are unlike myself or anyone I’ve ever met.

A surprise discovery I’m coming to terms with this year is that perspective is not reality. My interpretation and emotional reactions to events are not the same as the event itself. I can choose how I define and give meaning to occurances. I can decide how to react.

As a highly emotional person, this has been huge.

Maybe to some people this is obvious, but to me it was a subtlety that took someone (ok multiple someones) clearly articulating for me to absorb as truth.

With this insight, I have gained the power to breathe calmly when (apparent) disaster strikes. Look for more on that in my next post…

What has reading taught you that you didn’t expect to learn? Comment with your favorite quote or insight below!