52 books, 52 weeks

I’m not one for New Years resolutions, but I do love a good New Years intention. And at the beginning of 2020, I decided I wanted to read more. So, I set myself a goal: 52 books for the 52 weeks of the year.

Spoiler alert: I finished my 52nd book last week…and my 53rd yesterday. You can see my entire reading list for this year here on my Goodreads account (the 52+ books I finished, plus the many others I started and abandoned).

Below, in brevity, are thoughts on how I managed to hit the mark, what I learned along the way, and “superlatives” for a few of my favorite reads.

How I did it

  1. I read multiple books at once. I used to only read one book at a time, but Gretchen Rubin recommended this strategy. Just like watching a few TV shows at once…when you’re not interested in West Wing you can watch Trevor Noah, or if both don’t fit your vibe you can always default to The Office. Same thing with books: reading more than one book meant that there was always one I felt in the mood to read.
  2. I read books that I liked. (I know, revolutionary!). I ended up reading lots of non-fiction, Israeli history/authors, self development, and *a bit* of fiction (but only fiction that came highly recommended by readers I trust 🙂 ). No forcing myself to read genres or authors I didn’t like.
  3. I “stacked” my new reading routine on top of another current, successful routine. I journal every morning religiously. I tacked on 30 minutes – 1 hour of reading to this existing habit. It worked like charm. Did that mean I woke up an hour earlier to read most mornings? Yep.
  4. I watched less TV. This one wasn’t really intentional, I just got into such a reading-groove that very few TV shows captivated me this year.
  5. I had some extra time on my hands with COVID. But, I was also working 40 hours a week and doing a million other things…so while COVID gave me a bit more time to read, it wasn’t much.

What I learned

  1. “I don’t have time” is not a good excuse for not reading. And it’s not even true. I can build time in for the things I love.
  2. Reading is a mediation: the more I read, the more creative, thoughtful, and inquisitive I feel in daily life.
  3. Returning as an adult to something (reading) that I loved doing as a child felt self-nurturing and soothing.
  4. Reading helps me develop my voice as a writer (like A LOT).
  5. I despise reading on the Kindle and screens of any kind (not a new realization…but definitely a reinforced one). Only real-deal books for me.

SUPERLATIVES: Best bookS I READ IN 2020

The most important (for me, for you, for society, for everyone) — Know My Name (Chanel Miller)

The one I’ll read over and over again — A Gentleman in Moscow (Amor Towles)

The most thought-provoking story — The Book of Longings (Sue Monk Kidd)

The biggest adventure — Undaunted Courage: The Pioneering First Mission to Explore America’s Wild Frontier (Stephen E. Ambrose)

The best sorta-autobiography — A Tale of Love and Darkness (Amoz Oz) *only b/c Know My Name was the most important book

The one that was small but mighty — Talking to My Daughter About Capitalism (Yanis Varoufakis)

The favorite modern-history of Israel — My Promised Land (Ari Shavit)

The one that made me confront my white-privilege the most — Hood Feminism (Mikki Kendall)

The personal mindset changer — Untamed (Glennon Doyle)

The random thrift-store purchase that became a page-turner — In the Company of the Courtesan (Sarah Dunant)

The one I didn’t want to like, but really, really did — Rise and Kill First: The Secret History of Israel’s Targeted Assassinations (Ronen Bergman)

Thoughts or questions on these books, the reading challenge, or what I learned? Give me a holler. I’ll be over here chipping away at a few more hundred pages before the end of the year, and I’ll start fresh with my next 52 on January 1, 2021 (hopefully…as long as the below doesn’t happen!)

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