What I learned reading 50 books in a year

Alessandro Mozzato
Mar 20 · 4 min read

Last year I set as one of my main objective to read 50 books.

This was motivated by an aim of developing a regular reading habit and increase the number and range of books I was reading. I have always been a pretty savvy reader but previously I had never came close to this amount of books. Moreover, I would mostly stick to novels, preferably to the genres and authors I liked the most, very rarely venturing outside and reading different things.

It turned out that I was able to complete my challenge reading a total of 54 books ranging from Italian erotica, to personal investment, from South-American historical novel to startup gossip. Never before I had read so many diverse books. And yet this was quite easy to achieve and extremely pleasant. In this quest I had quite a lot of learnings that I tried to distill in this article. It follows no particular order and is not meant as a guide. Moreover, I do not want to make a list of the top books I read or suggest.

Develop an habit as soon as possible

First and foremost, developing a solid reading habit was my main aim. I tried different things like reading from anywhere, putting books on my phone, reading during breaks, using my iPad and more. In the end, what worked best was the most classic thing: reading before bedtime. I would read at any time of the day, but always always make sure I clocked in at least half an hour before sleeping. After a couple of months of this routine regularly, I found myself craving a few pages before going to sleep even when being very tired. My habit had kicked in! This hour or so before bedtime is by far my biggest source of reading time. And it turns out that if it is done regularly it’s probably more than enough to read 30+ books in a year. I also perfected my habit and experimented. Again, very classically, I found that I need to read at least half an hour of a novel before bedtime, whereas nonfiction is good for the evening! I am still experimenting and trying different things but finding a good reading habit was the crucial point for me.

Regular reading fosters more reading!

Experiment!

When I started my challenge I wanted to diversify my reading, starting reading more non-fiction and different styles of novels. With time I found that not only I enjoyed this way of reading but I also found it necessary. I would usually need a break between finishing a book and starting another one. Now I would simply find something very different, or even read multiple very different book at once. Experimenting with different reading habits and different reading styles felt liberating, bringing back true joy in reading for me! My biggest discovery was by far was nonfiction.

Nonfiction is excellent

I had always been a solid novel reader, very rarely venturing out of fiction, but I came to deeply appreciate non-fiction. About 70% of my reading this year was non-fiction. Good nonfiction books can be truly inspiring and range on all sort of topics. Personal development, career advancement, personal knowledge on all sort of different topics from science to history to philosophy. With this wealth of possibilities great risks appear! In fact, I soon discovered that not all nonfiction is gold, far from it!

But a lot of non-fiction is skippable

After starting reading more and more non-fiction I soon realised that most of it is actually garbage! A lot of books are just long mumblings repeating the same concept over and over again, just to fill up pages. A whole book could be summed up into a blog post. Of course a blog post doesn’t make as much money! The good news is that the more books of this kind someones read the faster one is able to spot them. So this is one of my main learning from my readings:

Learn to spot and drop bad books as soon as possible!

There is no point of reading boring books and repetitive books, dropping them them as soon as possible is the best thing you can do for yourself!

Diversify!

This is one of the best thing I gained reading much more books. It made me feel I had the freedom to read whatever book vaguely intrigued me. Books someone would suggest me, recent novels everybody talks about, random books I read about in some obscure blog. Opening up to different styles, genres, and even nonfiction, really expanded my horizons. Starting reading books I would not usually read, and would actively dislike, really changed my point of view on reading and was the best thing I could do!

Have fun

This might seem cliché but at the end of the day reading should always be enriching and always give something. At the end of the day reading should be a positive experience. Expanding one’s readings and wanting to read more is a very good commitment, but nothing good can come out of something forced! So pick up a good book, and have fun!

Alessandro Mozzato

Written by

Data Scientist at Booking.com, Climate Science PhD. https://alemozzato.com/