I set out to read a book a week this year, having gotten into tracking my reading on Goodreads late last year. The goal was to learn and widen my knowledge, as I believe exposing myself to as many ideas and experiences is beneficial, especially while I’m young.
As the goal was to consume the contents of books, not to display the will power to bury my nose in some dusty tome and flaunt my skill for identifying letters on a page, I am counting audiobooks in this challenge. 34 of the books I read were audiobooks, with the other 18 being a mix of dead tree and digital books. Audiobooks are without a doubt the most time efficient way of consuming knowledge, as you can listen at any time, and multitask easily. I listened while doing menial tasks or gaming. Usually I would also listen while walking to university, but with covid, that’s a memory of a bygone age now. With physical and digital books, I read at night before sleep. I find it to be relaxing and a good habit that’s part of my sleep routine.
In order to review my experience, I decided on categories and I would pick one book for each. This, I found, was a good starting point for thinking about what I got from each book.
The most simple category first, but not the easiest to answer. I decided in the end that it was American Buffalo. The mix of personal story and the wider history kept the book interesting throughout. Steven Rinella’s passion is contagious, and I found a love for buffalo and greater respect for conservation thanks to this book.
Optionality is a close second, which is authored by the writer of my favourite blog, and I had the opportunity to read as a review copy.
Least Favourite Book
Again, a simple one. I found the short Masque of the Red Death to be my least favourite this year. I’m not generally a fan of short fiction, and found this particular story dull. I read it in one sitting, and haven’t thought about it since.
Most Eye Opening
This year my goal was to learn and discover new things through books, so there was naturally more competition for this one because of the type of books I was reading. The Panama Papers takes the top spot. I remember hearing about the events in the news at the time, but didn’t look into it or care, but coming back to it I find it fascinating. I knew nothing about tax fraud and corruption before reading this, especially the extent and prevalence of it.
Most Likely to Recommend
A category slightly different to my favourite book, as everyone has different tastes. I’ve chosen War is a Racket by Major General Smedley Butler because of it’s short length, and it’s a damning piece on war profiteering written by a general and two time medal of honour recipient.
Most Likely Re-read
My most likely re-read is The Communist Manifesto, not because I loved it, but because I didn’t absorb the information as well as I could. I would like to return to it with a better understanding of the topic so I can get more from this famous book.
The most influential book I read this year has to be Thinking Fast and Slow. As a book about biases and how the brain works, I think about it often while trying to avoid the mistakes detailed in the book. It has also helped me develop empathy for other people making seemingly obvious mistakes, as we’re all just monkey’s with imperfect brains.
I’m definitely going to continue with this challenge next year, having found this year to be successful and enjoyable. I am thinking about setting a higher target, but I’m on the fence about it. While I found this valuable and time well spent, I also want to spend more time working on other projects.
Next year I will be setting a Welsh book target as well, as I didn’t read a single book in my mother tongue this year. It will be a low target, as there is only a small selection to choose from and I have plenty of English language books on my reading list.
I highly recommend setting a book target for everyone in 2021. It doesn’t matter how many, it can be 5 or 100, any reading is valuable. Reading is by far the most important hobby I have, and I imagine for many other people too.