The more I read, the more I read. This has proven true the last few years but especially this year. While I've consistently read more than 100 books since 2012, I somehow managed to read 313 books in 2016. That is an explosion compared to 2015's respectable 141 books.
There were 366 days in 2016, which means there were only 53 days where I did not finish a book.
And y'all, I promise I did things other than read this past year. I may be an introvert but I'm a social one and like to have plans at least a few times a week.
For the past month, I've thought about what factors might have led to 313 books. There are the usual suspects: I read more than one book at a time, I read every day, I'm a really fast reader, and I always have a book with me. But I've been doing this for years so that cannot explain how I doubled my reading intake.
I can almost guarantee I will not replicate this feat in 2017, if only because I'll be starting full-time work (hopefully soon) and going back to school later this year. You never know though. I love how many books I was able to read because the To Read list never stops growing, always spurring me on.
Here's how I did it:
I read primarily ebooks.
This was not intentional, at least not at first. For years I only used my Nook if I traveled or if a publisher sent me an ARC. I preferred physical books- and still do. But with most of my books in storage when I moved to San Francisco, it was so much easier to simply check out ebooks from the library. Bonus: no worrying about returning books on time, which would have been tricky given how my local branch's limited hours conflicted with my work schedule. I also have the Nook and Kindle apps on my phone so it's easy to resume reading at any time.
A couple of years ago I read an article by someone who said they were going to stop using their e-reader because they noticed they were reading faster (swiper keep swiping!) but losing comprehension in the process. I haven't noticed a loss in comprehension but I do think there's something to their swiping theory. When you're swiping pages, there is a strange temptation to keep going that is not as apparent when you're physically turning the page of a paperback book. I'm more aware of how often I'm finishing a page on an e-reader and subconsciously want to maintain that pace.
I still read physical books this past year and it did seem to take me longer. I haven't tracked page numbers vs. content vs. time spent reading vs. format so I can't be sure. But this does seem a likely factor.
Limited or no TV.
When I'm in for the night, I love watching a couple of TV shows or Hallmark movies to unwind. This past year I've lived in places that either did not have a TV at all or did not have cable or where I had limited access to the TV for various reasons. I kept up with my staple shows either on my laptop or my housemates' iPad when it was available but that was about it.
The plain truth is I'm not a good binge watcher so while I have Netflix, I can go weeks without using it. If I try watching something on my laptop, I usually get distracted by all the internetty things.
This simply meant reading became my primary downtime activity. Instead of reading before bedtime like I usually did, I'd start reading after dinner. Presto changeo.
Shorter books were in the mix.
This was purely accidental. I had no idea The House On Mango Street clocked in at 110 pages or Another Brooklyn- at least the e-version- was a little over 100. I also read a number of romance novels that were in the 175-225 page range and I can knock those out in a couple hours. This helped me realize I have a page length preference. Some of the most well developed stories seem to be in the 300-400 page range. That's not true across the board and I still read shorter novels but I'm paying attention now.
I moved across the country and only work part-time (aka stress and transition!)
In October I moved from San Francisco to Minneapolis. I have a bunch of friends here but I'm still building my community. Once the cold hit in December, I was ready to hibernate until spring. I'm working part-time remotely for my SF job and working as a Virtual Assistant while looking for a full-time job here. Since I'm not working 40 hours a week, this has meant more time to read. It's nice but I'm really looking forward to the routine of working in an office so hopefully this will happen soon.
I also turn to books more when I'm stressed or in a season of transition. Books provide some normalcy when the rest of my life is upside down. Plus, the library helps keep this the cheapest entertainment around.
I started listening to audiobooks.
I tried listening to audiobooks in my early to mid 20s and could not get into them, usually because I was too distracted. I'd try listening on a road trip and 20 minutes would go by and I'd realize I'd gotten lost in my thoughts instead of paying attention to the story.
In the intervening years, however, I've become a big podcast listener so I thought moving across the country would be a good time to try again. I listened to Meghan March's Beneath This Mask and was completely hooked. I've listened to a few more since and am starting to figure out which narrators I like and what types of stories keep me focused. My preference is still to listen when I'm going to be on the road for a fair amount of time but I'll also listen while I eat a meal or have at least a 25 minute drive.
Disclosure: Affiliate links included in this post.