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On reading

Several weeks ago a coworker found me reading a book during my lunch at the office. With quite some surprise in his voice, he said, “You read? I didn’t think about you being a book person.” — Well, I reckon I am a book person.

Now that Alvaro just published a great blog post “Of books read and to be read” I also feel like expressing a few words on reading.

If you know my personally you may know that my daily life has very little routine (except the occasional evening tea). I act on plans but still fail at going to bed early and waking up early, but I believe that’s okay to a certain point. So it does not come to a surprise that I also don’t have a routine which other people adopted like “I read quite a few pages of a novel every evening before going to bed”

The Goal for 2016: “Read more…”

I remember the last few days of 2015 I laid out some goals for 2016. One of this was “read more” as this is a very vague goal and not really measure I then wrote down “Read 20 Books”. Which feels like an insane number for someone who barely finishes two books in a year.

přečíst (read trough) and číst (read)

So what do two Czech words have to do with tackling my goal to read more? Hang in there, we’re getting there. Languages are a marvelous thing and some languages have a way to describe if you finished something or not. In the Czech language, you can actually distinguish between having something read through completely and just read it — which does not imply to have it completely. Before 2016 reading always came with the demand of reading a book completely. I cited Austin Kleon earlier already when I started to keep a list of all the books I like (I switched to Goodreads in the meantime because it helps me keep track of my reading list much better).
Once I realized that it’s okay to not finish a book or to drop a book after some chapters and say “OK, I tried to read this book but it has not been written for me” I became much more relaxed on this topic on not finishing something.


The 20 Books reading challenge started out of nowhere and I didn’t really have more than 5 books on my list I that really really wanted to read. So after discussing that with A. we came up with the idea that maybe a visit to the local libraries would be a good idea. And well, she was more than right. I visited the local libraries a lot this year. And not buying the books has a lot of positive things to it:

  • You don’t own the books
    I try to declutter my live and belongings all the time so it’s a good thing not to buy 20+ books a year.
  • You must return the book within 4-6 weeks
    Literally limiting the time you can ‘spend’ with the books helps on getting stuff done and reading them (or decide to drop reading them). If you limit the time you find yourself reading the last 30 pages of a book right next to the counter you will return the book 40 minutes later.
  • Experiment and broaden your horizon
    As I didn’t have a plan on what to read I started trying things out and reading topics which are different to what I do on my day to day base. I  occasionally found myself reading some books on human behavior, architecture, finance and much more. Things that would never have crossed my mind otherwise.
  • Reading and researching
    Once you wander off your home turf you start to research new topics and might end up with new lessons learned from other métiers

And how many books did you read in 2016?

In the end, I got through around 25 books (it might have been more because some books weren’t in the database or simply forgot to keep track of it) and I’m currently finishing one. That makes it 26 out of a goal of 20. Pretty solid in my opinion. You might ask for the goal of 2017? I’m leaning towards 25 books. It’s not a performance sport and the enjoyment of reading needs to persist so stressing on this part would be a bad idea in my opinion.

So go and find a book to read or as Alvaro put it simply:

If like I do, you also love books, then don’t be ashamed of starting reading a book, stopping mid way, and jumping into the next book you are curious about. Some people keep dozens of open tabs in their browsers, and that’s fine. In my case I keep dozen of half read books spread across my house, and that’s fine as well.