I’ve been a member of goodreads for many years even before Amazon bought them out. I enjoy their Reading Challenge they do each year which gets members to pledge a certain number of books that they’ll read for the year. I had set similiar goals even before I joined goodreads as I’ve always valued the power of reading – at both the entertainment level and health level due to it’s positive benefit on cognitive skills. This year I’m trying some new ideas in an attempt to get my total books-read count higher and to make my reading more effective.
Here are some of my personal motivations for working on a new plan. These may not fit with your interests and schedule but they may give you ideas to customize your own plan if you have an interest in putting one together for reading more books. Now something else to keep in mind, some people prefer spontaneity over planning when it comes to reading a good book and that’s quite alright. To some the act of putting a lot of thought and planning into the activity of reading would potentially diminish the enjoyment of it. You would need to evaluate your own personality type to know if that is you or you prefer planning such as I do. I do sometimes have days where I’ll pick a random book for spontaneity and possibly read the whole book just for something different. And if I only read one or two books a year, I’d likely skip all the planning, however, with my goal of reading many books over the course of a year, an organized plan makes more sense to me. I’ve been doing a reading plan for well over a decade and I know from experience without a plan, I will not read many books during any year – I would be lucky to read six books in a year without planning.
Ok with all that out of the way here are my main objectives/motivations/ideas for a reading plan and ways to increase my book reading count. Keep in mind that I developed these over many years of reading plans and for many years were unwritten and mostly inside my head:
- Increase overall reading count for books especially for it’s positive effects that I’ve personally noticed regarding my memory, cognitive skills, reading, writing, and communication skills. I believe there are many more and this is just a few areas that I’ve personally experienced improvements with when reading large amounts of material.
- Ensure that across all books read to include a mixture of formats such as digital e-books, print (hardcopy), and audiobooks. This is because I own and actively collect additional material in all these formats. You wouldn’t have go spend a lot of money on this if you didn’t already own them or better yet, you could visit your local library and/or utilize online libraries to borrow for free additional content in any of these formats if necessary. There are also free resources on the Internet and even Amazon has a lot of free or cheap (less than a dollar) material depending on what genres interest you.
- Find additional ways to get two birds with one stone to increase reading/listening opportunities for books. Read e-books or listen to audiobooks while on a treadmill. Listen to audiobooks while on a walk or jog or while cutting the grass or certain household chores such as dishes, laundry, or cleaning.
- It may be necessary to set certain goals on specific formats. For instance, I have a 2.5 hour commute each day so including lunch I may be able to listen to 3 hours of audiobooks per day just from my commute and lunch times. With visual reading however, my time is much more limited and I’m lucky to get a chapter a day reading visually but I try to get at least that much and more on weekends.
- Some formats such as audiobooks utilize a very different skillset when reading. It took me years to get adept at listening to audiobooks with full comprehension and retention. But I think developing that skill helped my communication skills when listening to other people talk to me. I recognize the same skill that helps me effectively consume audiobooks helps me in business meetings or just with personal communications when listening to a friend.
- I have procured a lot of cookbooks (digital and print copies) since I enjoy cooking and I’d like to put them to better use. Set a goal of 1 cookbook per month so that I can queue up new ideas for future meals. While reading these cookbooks set bookmarks (digital bookmark if ebook, and a color coded tab if the cookbook is a physical book) so that I may go back to the recipes that interest me when I get closer to being ready to get the ingredients and prepare the meal at a future date.
- I have an interest in writing my own books including comic books and possibly scriptwriting for shows/movies and I enjoy painting/art/etc. so I’d like to read more comics to understand the medium more thoroughly and to see more of the visual art styles used in main stream and indie comics. Therefore, setting a goal of at least if not more than 1 comic per month is my plan.
- Since I have an interest in writing short stories and getting published and truth is often stranger than fiction, I’d like to read a high percentage of non-fiction books during the year and potentially weave real-world weirdness into my stories.
- I very much enjoy music whether listening or learning to play new instruments. I already have a uke, acoustic and electric guitar, and keyboards (synth and midi types) so I’d let to set small goals each week of practicing and getting better at playing those instruments – mastery isn’t the goal just baby step improvements in my skills and understanding of those instruments and to have fun playing.
- Also, I’m interesting in composing music which adds in music theory books to the mix. These books would likely be paralleled meaning I would be reading up to five or more books at once over a longer period of time rather than completing them one at a time. That way I could choose to study music theory or various instruments week to week – again mastery isn’t the goal only small incremental improvements.
- I enjoy many forms of visual art across the whole spectrum including physical and digital mediums. Having a decent ability to create my own artwork plays into my other interests for a type of cross pollination effect so I could create my own artwork for a book cover or for any future indie comics I might create or less likely an album cover if I ever put together a music collection. For this genre, I’ll set a goal of working through one artbook every 1 or two months since these books tend to be shorter around 120 pages but they require following along with the art exercises.
- Talking about cross pollination, the big one is creating video games. I started a video game company when I was 17 and developed a total of 5 full scale games and sold them around the late 80s/early 90s. These weren’t as great as they could have been but I did sell some copies and I learned a lot in the process. With video games all types of art is used from visual art, to music, to story line and game design and everything in between. While now-a-days very large teams (artists, musicians, animators, story writers, game designers and developers, etc.) may build a single game costing millions and millions of development cost, it is still possible for one person to make interesting and fun games maybe for the mobile market (like phones, tablets or even web browsers). So I could in theory tie all of the skills together if I decided to write video games. This idea adds in books on game development and programming.
- Ending with the core reading count is basically filling in the remaining slots. This is done by choosing books from several genres top 3 of which I prefer and 2 more of subject areas which I don’t listen to as much. The idea is to improve areas which I’m strong in and also become more acquainted with areas I’m less familiar with. The goal isn’t really to predetermine all books for the year but just to have a general idea of where to choose the next book from. Here is how my personal choices look:
- NonFiction (Business, Corporate, Science, History (World not just Western Civ), Government, Technical, How-to, Personal Development, Psychology)
- NonFiction (Biographies and Memoires)
- Fiction (Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror (Steven King, Coontz), Classics (Greek, Poe, HP Lovecraft, Twain)
- Fiction (Any not mentioned in item 3 that I wouldn’t normally read)
- NonFiction (Areas where my knowledge is limited)
- From subject areas that may not be my preference such as socialism, vegan, certain political views. All to often I see conservatives who don’t try to understand the liberals point of view and vice versa. I think both sides should understand the complete picture even if they don’t agree with the other side’s ideas.
- From subject areas I vehemently oppose – extremism, hate groups, Hitler, Nazis, Serial Killers, etc. (I’m not trying to empathize here but seek to better understand evil and why some people make such terrible and evil choices. Whether by reading case studies, analysis, or sometimes directly from the hater’s own messed up head such at Hitler’s Mein Kampf, I prefer not to ignore hatred and evil people but instead approach it without hesitation.)
- From subject areas where I have holes in my knowledge – certain religious beliefs, certain lifestyle choices, alternate political beliefs, etc. I feel like there are areas I could use a little more knowledge in such as libertarianism, humanism, utilitarianism, and those pesky anarchists. Just kidding I don’t know if they’re pesky or not.
Good luck with whatever direction you choose. Either way, plan or no plan, I hope you find time to read good books and enjoy the reading experience as much as I do.