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100 Books In 2017: How I Did It

When Goodreads asked me about my 2017 reading challenge goal last December, I rashly threw down what is, for me, a very big number. 100 books in 2017. I’d never read that many as an adult, at least not since I’ve started tracking. But I thought it was possible to reach a bit higher than usual since I’d be on maternity leave for most of the year. (I can do a lot of reading on my Kindle while nursing or holding a sleeping baby.)

In late spring, when I was behind by a few books, I was sure I’d fail to reach my goal. If I couldn’t keep up while I was home all day, how would I manage in September when I went back to full-time teaching? But the summer reading guide got me back on track, and I’m very proud to announce that I hit my goal of 100 books an entire month early, on November 30.

(Very, very proud. This year, I also lost 23 pounds of pregnancy weight, but I’m way happier about the 100 books read than the weight lost. This feels like significant growth to me, as I spent most of my early 20s obsessing over my body instead of improving my brain.)

I’m making this a two-part post. In today’s post, I’ll write about how I read 100 books despite managing a full-time job (for some of the year), a part-time career, and two young children at home. These tips and tricks can help anyone who wants to read more in 2018. In part two, I’ll do a run-down of the best books of the year and share my recommendations.

In my quest to reach 100 books, I…

…Abandoned several books.

This seems counter-intuitive. If you want to finish more books, why would you toss one away? But it slowed down my reading considerably if I wasn’t looking forward to returning to the book. For awhile I wasn’t sure what to do with these unfinished books on Goodreads; they just sort of sat on my “Currently Reading” shelf. I finally ended up creating a “Abandoned” shelf just so I had a place to shift those books to. It’s not so easy to just delete something you’ve started, and this way, I’d have a record of books that I didn’t end up liking enough to finish, which is useful in its own way.

… Read in varied genres.

Here’s the breakdown:

Nonfiction- 41

General/women’s fiction- 39

Historical fiction- 9

Romance- 3

Mystery/Thriller- 7

SciFi/Fantasy- 3

I always had at least one fiction and one nonfiction book going simultaneously, so I could read whatever I preferred at the moment. This toggling also enabled me to take my time with books that needed long-term savoring, such as Eleanor Roosevelt’s You Learn By Living.

…Hooked into multiple book recommendation sources.

I used to choose books by whim. I’d go to the library and pick up a bunch, or browse for a couple of minutes on Amazon’s Kindle page. I was never without a book to read, but I wasn’t anticipating the next book; I didn’t have a clear to-read queue. This year, I started a stack on my nightstand, a queue on my Kindle, a wish list on Audible for when new credits came available. My best recommendations came from the Modern Mrs. Darcy book club. We read one main book and two “flight” pairings per month, and enthusiastic readers also share their favorite books in the forums. I also continued subscribing to MMD’s Kindle Daily Deals email, which gave me a ton of sources for e-books (great books on sale, so I didn’t break the bank with my 100 books). And before creating my summer reading list, I referenced the New York Times recommendation list. I DEFINITELY read more new releases this year than ever before, which has helped me as a writer to know the market better.

(Hey– want your own personalized book recommendation? Sign up for my monthly newsletter, The Perspective Post, and receive a personalized reading recommendation from yours truly within the first email!)

… Used multiple forms of reading.

I read hardcovers and paperbacks. I read on my old-school second-generation Kindle (no internet distraction). I read on my phone (not often). I listened to Audible books. I had a book available in every situation, and no excuse not to read.

In my quest to reach 100 books, I did NOT…

… Make huge sacrifices.

I did not stop watching TV with my husband. I did not stop writing. I did not get less sleep. (Well, okay, during vacations I did stay up late to read. But I always slept later the next day.) I probably did spend less time on Facebook and Words with Friends, but I don’t regret that for a second.

If you want to read more in 2018, you can. Just make it a bigger priority, and a wonderful reading life will follow.

Stay tuned for part two, in which I share the best (and worst) of the 100 books!

Fellow readers, what helps you to read more and better books? Let’s share more tips in the comment section!

4 Responses to “100 Books In 2017: How I Did It”

  1. Congratulations–that’s a lot of reading for a woman with so many major responsibilities. I’m looking forward to your rundown of your favorites. Talking about books is one of my favorite things!

    What helps me read more and better books? Like you, I always make sure I have a variety of types of books on the go so there’s always something I “feel like” reading. I read throughout the day when I have a few minutes to spare, and I both start and finish every day reading. I make sure I have a book with me when I leave the house (I mostly read actual books, but I just got a new phone with a slightly bigger screen, so I can consider using the Kindle app rather than haul around a book). I read in the bathtub, and I read on the elliptical machine! I’m never short of recommendations, between blogs, my local newspaper, and other sources of book blurbs and reviews. I also abandon books I can’t get into, which doesn’t happen often, but makes my reading life more pleasant.

    • Leanne Sowul says:

      Sounds like you and I have a lot of similar “hacks” for a robust reading life, Kathy! I also like to read in the bathtub, though I often turn to re-reading comfort books, or old comic books, instead of new material. I didn’t count re-reads in my 100, but I probably read about 25 of those this year. A lot of skimming involved, though, and most are fast reads.

  2. Great job, Leanne! I haven’t read nearly as many books as you have (about 2/3s of the way through #53 of the year), but it looks like I’ll be close to my 2016 total of 58 books read when all is said and done. It feels good to have a consistent reading habit. 🙂

    Looking forward to seeing your list of 2017 favorites!

    • Leanne Sowul says:

      Thanks! It’s so good to track on Goodreads. I never would have even started tracking if Goodreads hadn’t made it so easy on the app. I regret all those years I read book after book and didn’t write the titles down!

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  1. 100 Books In 2017: Top 10 Lists:: Leanne Sowul, Writer - […] In last Friday’s post, I described how I was able to read 100 books in a year despite a busy…

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