100 Books Per Year

This morning I finished my 784th book since January 1, 1996. It is a milestone. When I started keeping my list, I had a goal of reading a book a week, or 52 books a year. For the first 17 years, I never hit my goal, although I’ve come close. Then, in 2013, I read 54 books, finally hitting and surpassing my initial goal.

I’m always amazed when I read how people like Thomas Jefferson read tens of thousands of books in their lifetime. The math for me doesn’t even come close. But I’ve often wondered if it would be possible to read 100 books in a year.

That is the significance of my 784th book. One year ago, I had just completed by 684th book. That means that in the last 365 days, I’ve read 100 books.

Indeed, in the first half of 2018, I read 62 books totaling over 29,000 pages, more than I have read in any single previous year. (The book I finished today, Undaunted Courage by Stephen E. Ambrose was my 66th of the year.). In the calendar year that puts me on track of reading 120 books.

I’ve been reading so much that it is hard to keep up. Usually, when I finish a book, I write notes about what I read in my journal. It helps my memory of the book. I also copy any highlights I’ve made there so it acts as a kind of commonplace book. But I’ve been reading so much, so quickly that I am now 20 books behind in my notes. I’ve got to find a block of time to catch up.

The speed is due to several factors:

  1. I listen to audiobooks and have gradually increased the speed at which I listen to where 1.5x sounds normals to me. That means I finish a book in two thirds of the time it would normally take (e.g. a 15 hours book I can finish in 10 hours of listening).
  2. I listen longer during the day than I used to. In June, for instance, I average a little over 5 hours of actual listening time each day. At 1.5x speed that’s the equivalent of 7.5 hours of listening each day.
  3. I read more than one thing. Usually when I am reading an audiobook, I am also reading something on the Kindle or paper. These go more slowly but they add up.

For instance, I just finished my 784th book today, but I will likely also finish my 785th book today, which I have been reading separately.

I know these are just numbers but they please me because I love to read. Books form the foundation of my real education. High school and college taught me how to learn. Reading has taught me nearly everything else.


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