2019 Book Reading Challenge

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The Book Reading Challenge is something I am aware of from 2017 when I discovered a website called Goodreads. For those who don’t know Goodreads, it is a social network/catalog (sometimes referred to as “social cataloging website”) about books, similar to how IMDb is about movies and TV shows. It is great not only for looking up information and reviews about books, but also keeping track of your book lists (books you have, books you have read, you want to read, etc.) and what your friends are reading.

To encourage people to read more, every year, you can set a reading challenge for yourself. Basically, you set a target, a number of books you want to read in that year, and every time you mark some book on the platform as read, it will count towards your challenge. And as it is also a social network, you can see reading challenges of your friends, their targets and progress, and what books they have already read.

Me and reading books

In college, I started to have a big aversion to reading books. I stopped reading and the next few years I have read only a handful of books, but now I am trying to get back to regular reading. It is a great way to use the time during the commute to work, learn new information and languages, or just to relax and get inspired. Right now I pretty much read only when I go to bed, as part of my night routine, to get a rest from looking at a computer screen all day.

Even though I read books to help me with business, learn new skills, to write new posts, I still don’t value it as much. I hope over time I can shift my mindset and consider reading a book all day a well spent and productive time, because it is work, it is research, it is learning, and better and more information and skills brings me closer to my goals. To treat it like something I want to do, not something I think I should be doing.

So, what about 2019?

All right, back to this year’s challenge. For 2019 I gave myself a target of 24 books. Last year I had target 12 and I managed to read twice as much, so this year it is my target. I could probably read more, but I will be happy if I can stay constant and finish 24 books every year.

But, just to be completely honest, I kind of cheated in previous challenges, because I counted even books which are not your traditional “wall of text” type. For example, photography books, which are usually just filled with pictures, technically count as a book. In 2018 I bought Humans of New York by Brandon Stanton. It is an amazing book filled with photos from the streets of New York and its people, but those are just photos. On the other hand, yes, there are some quotes and short stories and it gave me what any good book would, it gave me the opportunity to relax and get taken into another world, it forced me to think, it sparked some ideas and inspired me. But it wasn’t much of a “reading a book” in the traditional sense.

What do you think? Is it cheating or should it count as reading a book?

This year I wanted to do it a little bit differently. I want to specify which books I am going to read, to have a plan and bigger commitment. Not all 24 of them, but at least to make a small list, so throughout the year I don’t have to think about what to read next.

In 2019, I want to read all the books I have at home again and give them away (I am trying to reduce the number of books I own and keep only those I want to read regularly), and I read again some of my keepers. Those are books I usually read when I start a new business or a new job, or when I plan a new project, just to remind me of various topics, principles, ideas, methods, and tools. But more about them later.

I have already read nine books. About six of them I won’t talk in detail as they aren’t related to the topics I talk about on this blog (there were some fiction books, a photography book, one about history, one about programming, etc.) and the other three are these:

I wrote a separate post for each of them (just click on the name of the book). I grant those reviews are a little bit experimental because I haven’t written a proper book review since high school, so I am just trying to figure it out.

What other books I would like to read this year?

So, this year I have planned nine books. Three I have already read, six are listed below and with those six extra (off topic) books I am missing nine more to go. There are some other books I have already read and I think I can benefit from reading them again, so I will look into some of those. And as for the new books, I would like to read more books about minimalism, stress, burnout, mental health, and relationships.

Here is the rest of my list for this year:

Start With Why by Simon Sinek

First time I became aware of Simon Sinek and his Golden Circles was when I joined AIESEC and on orientation days they used this method to explain to us what the organization does, how does it and especially why the organization exists, what is its goal.

Even though the book is a very interesting read, I have read it when I couldn’t use any of the ideas shared in the book in real life. I want to read it again now when I am working on new businesses, to help me organize my thoughts and define the projects.

Leaders Eat Last by Simon Sinek

This is a second book I have written by Simon Sinek, this time on the topic of leadership. I got hooked after watching his TED Talk and hearing his Johnny Bravo story and circle of safety theory, so I bought the book in 2015, because simply I wanted to learn more, especially about leadership, and in that year I was also starting a new job as a team manager and I wanted to prepare for it. It is a great book and is definitely worth reading more than once.

The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss

This is for me probably the most influential book I have read so far in terms of my future plans, businesses, etc. I read it the first time in 2015 and it was The 4-Hour Workweek that pushed me over the edge to work really hard, keep learning and at least try my business ideas (which I did a few months later with one of them).

I have already read it several times, I read it every time I start a new business project and if the project fails, I just read it again to remind myself why I did that project in the first place and to keep my head high and just keep trying.

Art of War by Sun Tzu

Even though I am half Asian, I have never heard about this book from my family. The first time it came across my radar was when it was featured in the TV show Smallville (which is about the origins of Superman). It was a book which Lex Luthor received as a gift from his father for his 14th birthday. I don’t know if it was the Asian origin of the book, our similarities in names with Lex, how the booked looked like (it was bright red hardcover edition with golden letter) or the scene in the show when they discuss and quote the book, but it stuck and it is like the only moment I remember from the whole TV show. And of course, I ran into the bookstore and bought myself a copy and I have it since.

It is a great collection of short quotes, originally about how to fight battles and wars, organize and lead your armies, but the uniqueness of this book is that it can be applied to many areas of life, like business, work, and relationships.

Here is just a little teaser, one of my favorite quotes:

In the midst of chaos, there is also opportunity.

Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert T. Kiyosaki

This was probably the first book I have read about business, financial freedom and self-development, and kickstarted my interest in this niche. I have read it only once, in high school, and even though I understood what was proposed in the book, I didn’t see much of the connection between myself in high school and what was proposed in the book, as things like buying a real estate or owning a company were very abstract concepts for me.

But I also remember it being very controversial as many people were taking it too literally, some even worshipping Robert Kiyosaki, saying he is the only person who knows anything about making money, and waves of people joining shady multilevel and pyramid scheme businesses, claiming those are the only ways to make money and reach financial freedom as described in the book, because in these businesses you don’t have to work, you just need to recruit people and they will generate earnings for you and that is the financial freedom.

I think reading it again, ten years later, with more experience and a different view on life, could be interesting.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens by Sean Covey

This is a simplified version of the original book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, written by the author´s son. I have never read the original, but I would like to read it (maybe even this year) and I thought I can start with the easier version first and compare them.

Now I challenge you

Set a reading challenge. If you don’t read regularly, just start small. You can start with 6 books a year – it’s one book every two months, I think anybody can read one book every two months. Which is like five pages a day for your average book. Seriously, anybody can read five pages a day. Pick a book, find 15, 20, 30 minutes a day and let’s go! It doesn’t matter if you are reading a physical book, digital version or listening to an audiobook. It all counts, as long as you are reading the full version and getting all the info.

And those regular readers out there, give yourself a challenge. Set your goal at least a little bit higher than what you have managed to read last year.

Marek Le Xuan

Hello there! I'm Marek Le Xuan, passionate educator, prudent planner, life-long learner, and Google Sheets lover. On this and other platforms, I share ideas, tools, and practices about entrepreneurship, self-improvement, planning and lifestyle design, so enthusiastic individuals and organizations like you can achieve their goals in life and business. My mission is to help you own it, be a badass and kick ass!