The first time I heard that people read 100 books a year, I was gobsmacked. It was such a mind blowing information that I began to question everything I was doing with my life. Of course, along the line it unconsciously became a milestone of sorts – something that I aspired to tick of my bucket list. So, I began building momentum and took my Goodreads a bit more seriously. In 2014, I started with a goal of 40 and ended with 45, 2015 – 50 finished with 61. This year, it’s 60 and so far, I’ve read 27. Apart from the obvious bragging rights, it’s important to know why exactly you’re reading and not just get overwhelmed with that Goodreads badge.
Which is why this post on Medium Why I Don’t Read 100 Books a Year brought a few things back into perspective.
So, why as I reading? Why am I a tad obsessed with books and idea of books and libraries? Why do I desire to read 100 books a year and books from every country in the world?
First of all, books are incredibly addictive. Once the habit of voracious reading is formed, you need to continually feed it or you might just go insane. That’s why I’m not limited by any medium. I read every and anything on any platform. (I feel like I might need reading glasses soonish.) Classics, Junk, Ratchet, Earth shattering, Life changing, Bestsellers. That way I know how to differentiate good writing from downright horrible writings and what not to learn from them.
The day I decided that I wanted to be a writer was the day I knew that I had a lot of work to do. I had to find my voice. The only way I can do that is to read as wide and as deep as possible. My voice is the sum total of all of the my literary influences. It’s a unique mashup of all of the authors and books that influence me. Which is why I’m very open minded when it comes to books. I try as much as possible not to put myself in a box. Some people prefer to read solely African Fiction for instance, I can’t do that. It means that all of my thinking processes and writings will be one – dimensional. So far, I’ve read French Literature, German Literature, a bit of British Literature here and there, Afghanistan Fiction and a host of Immigrant Literature. Currently, my booklist consists predominantly of American Fiction which I try as much as possible to regulate because diversity is key.
It’s probably cliché but brilliant writers are readers. I don’t just want beautiful writing, I want brilliant writing and that can only happen if I’m well read. So far, my writing has definitely improved but it’s not even close. Another thing is reading the popular books. Usually, when you read what everyone reads, you begin to think like every other person. I’ve discovered that a lot of books are diamonds in the rough. These don’t get any recognition. They aren’t even bestsellers. For instance, Imagined Love by Diamond Drake. Mahn, that book is vivid but literally unknown.
Apart from my obvious reasons for reading, I’ve also discovered that I’m learning a whole lot of things. I’m more aware and less judgy. I’m always looking forward to that single thing that I would take away from a book even if it’s a phrase. For instance, I’m currently reading The Lover by Marguerite Duras and this sentence came up at the beginning which has stuck: She’s become just something you write without difficulty, cursive writing. Best believe, I’m taking that away even if I don’t learn any other thing. From the beginning of the year till date, I’ve been schooled on a myriad of topics. From mental health to the publishing industry to human anatomy and memoires to the Ina vampires and whatnot. No one teaches you these things. I think it’s a privilege to read and be exposed to the world and I do not take that for granted.
There’s also the issue of finding time. Reading is time consuming no doubt but you just have to find a way around it. During your commute. Less TV. Less Twitter. Less Instagram. Less Turn ups.The other day, my mum was asking about something on the news. I just kept staring at her. I wasn’t listening. I was busy reading. My social life is currently nonexistent but due to my personality, I can bounce back even though I’d rather not at the moment. Because books > friends. Reading has become a habit so much that every idle time matters. During Laundry. When cooking. In the restroom. I read in the weirdest places sometimes.
After reading, especially a very good book, I allow my thoughts to flow and then form personal opinions thereafter. The results are usually in the form of book reviews. I realised that the sooner I write them after reading, the better they generally are.
So, it’s pretty important to read as long as you’re doing it for all the right reasons.
Then again, I don’t think it’s bad thing to desire to read 100 books a year because it takes a whole lot of guts and discipline.