Thought Catalog
March 3, 2017

The ‘Book A Week’ Challenge: How I Managed To Read 52 Books In 52 Weeks

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Gaelle Marcel
Gaelle Marcel

New year resolutions is something that I don’t share publicly.

The goals I write down are personal and most of them won’t be applicable to others. However, I did identify one resolution that I think can be helpful. For the past few years, I’ve stacked books on top of books (virtually) based on recommendations I’ve received from friends, podcast guests, and my personal discoveries.

The problem was: I’ve never made the time (and priority) to set up the right systems to read more books.

Now, I’m laying out a public challenge to you and myself called ‘The BAW (Book A Week) Challenge’. The goal is simple: read 52 books in one year (one a week; four a month).

*Note: Yes, this is published in February so if you want to participate it can be 48 books.

If you just want the list of books that I’ll be reading, you can scroll down. If you’re interested in participating, listen to the podcast episode.

How I’m approaching the reading process.

1. Picking 1-3 areas of my life that I want to most improve or optimize.

This year, with the goal to find more balance, I’ve decided to pick diversified topics most important in my life: Health & Wellness, Wealth & Business, Biographies. You can decide to go deep in one topic, and just read books on business, or just on health. Personally my ADHD will drive me nuts, but whatever floats your boat!

2. Create a list of books you want to read.

Scour the web, browse through Amazon, take some of my suggestions — do whatever you need to get as many recommendations as possible. Make sure it’s from a diversified circle of people or source, so you can get a diversified group of books. Try to go beyond 52 books if you can.

3. Categorize them into the 1-3 areas.

  • If you have more than 2+ topics, you can either: Read 4 books a month on one topic, then 4 books on the next.
  • Or…Diversify by reading books on each topic every month (this is my approach)
  • Have a free for all section
  • This gives you the freedom to either choose a book that is not related to the topics you chose, or read another book around your chosen topic. For me, these are topics around psychology, philosophy, relationships, history, fiction books, and more.

4. Go through your book list and start adding books in the order that you’re interested in.

What usually works for me is to select topics that I can immediately apply in my life. Otherwise, you feel forced to read something that’s not directly applicable.

Another tip to keep in mind is to do some back research on the length of each book. For example, you wouldn’t want to cram in multiple 400-page books in the span of a month. Unless you’re a reading machine, then all the power to you! And last but not least…

5. Put the rest on your backlog.

The backlog is there in case you run into a book that you lose interest in (which happens more often than you think). I’ve found that it’s rarely a good idea to finish a book for the sake of finishing a book. If you’re not vibing with the author, drop it and move on.

My last $0.02

  • Take the time to study the process of reading faster. If you’re going to be reading 100,000’s of words, taking a few minutes to increase your reading speed can save you a massive amount of time.
  • Measure how fast you currently read using this free test.
  • Check out these free resources (or research on your own) on how to read faster:
  • Blog post on Tim Ferriss, Blog post on Rype, Blog post on Mark Manson
  • Try repeating the test again, and practice until you see some improvements
  • Audiobooks can speed up your ‘reading’ MUCH faster. If you can retain non-fiction books in audio format, then this option is highly recommended. Although for certain books that involve more visual representation (such as bodybuilding or nutrition books), I prefer reading them.
  • Check out Audible or Audiobooks.com
  • Even though I’ve resisted Kindle for awhile (I’ve always liked the tangible feeling of books), adopting it into my life has been huge. I no longer have to carry around books when I travel, and I can bring one tablet that contains all of my books.
  • If you slip up and forget to read a book (which will happen), keep going. The real purpose of the challenge is not to read 52 books in 52 weeks, it’s to develop the habits, time management, and reading skills to read more books. As long as you end up reading more books than you normally would, you’ve already won.

Without further ado, here’s my book-a-week reading list. Use and share it as freely as you please.

January

February

March

April

May

June

July

August

September

October

November

December

The Backlog

Health & Wellness

Mindset by Carol Dweck
Siddhartha by Hermann Herse
Paradox of Choice by Barry Schwartz

Business & Money

The Fountain Head by Ayn Rand
Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
What They Don’t Teach You At Harvard Business School by Mark McCormack
As a Man Thinketh by James Allen
Small Giants by Bo Burlingham
Disrupt You by Jay Samit
Becoming a Category of One by Joe Calloway

Biographies

The Churchill Factor by Boris Johnson
Muhammad Ali: His Life And Times by Thomas Hauser
Empire State Of Mind: How Jay-Z Went From Street Corner To Corner Office by Zack O’Malley Greenburg
Churchill: A Life by Martin Gilbert

Other

Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu
A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson
On The Shortness of Life by Seneca
Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari
What If? by Randall Monroe

This episode is brought to you by RypeTC mark

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