2017 was a big reading year for me. For one thing, I joined Goodreads, which led me to read more than twice as many books as I usually do. And of course, I started a blog!
Please forgive me, as I suspect this post might get a little rambly. I’ll also be mentioning some goals for my reading next year, but those are more general things I want to keep in mind as opposed to the concrete goals I have set out in my upcoming goals post.
Looking back on my reading from the past year, the thing that stands out the most is that I read A TON. I finished more than 160 books in 2017, compared to 77 books in 2016 and 82 books in 2015. And while I know a number of the books I read this year were shorter, the page count for 2017 is over 5500, compared to approximately 2900 in 2016 and 3200 in 2015. So yeah, my reading ramped up a ton.
Largely I’m pleased with this. I love reading and I think these numbers reflect that I’m not wasting as much of my free time doing things I don’t care that much about. At the same time, though, I personally think I’ve pushed myself too hard to read more books. I know there are things that I need to do or want to do that I’ve pushed off because of my drive to read all the books, so next year I want to take a step back and maybe read a bit less.
Joining Goodreads has also put in context exactly how many books I read in a year and how many books I’m likely to read in my lifetime, which is making me want to be a bit more choosy in what I read. I feel like I read a lot of books last year that I knew would be entertaining and I would generally like, but that I didn’t suspect I would love and maybe weren’t the ones I most wanted to read, and I think that’s a habit I want to change in 2018.
In the same vein, I’ve noticed that I read a lot of books in 2017 because they’re hyped or I’ve heard a few good things, but that I didn’t always enjoy them that much. Obviously you can’t know for sure whether you’ll like a book before you’ve read it, but there are definitely a number of books I’ve read in the past year that I probably should have known wouldn’t be the right fit for me before I finally read them. That’s something I want to keep in mind for next year, as I want to increase the quality of what I’m reading.
At the same time, I want to make more of an effort next year to pick up books I’ve never heard of. I like to think that the bookish community generally does a good job of finding and promoting the best books, but I remember being a kid and wandering through the store or the library and picking out a book because I liked the cover and it sounded interesting, and I found some of my favorite books that way. So while I want to read the books I’m most likely to love, I also don’t want to deprive myself of the chance to stumble across something magical because I’m so focused on only reading books that come highly recommended.
On a different note, one of my biggest reading surprises of 2017 is how much I like memoirs. I really shouldn’t be surprised as I’ve read several in the past and really enjoyed them (An Imperfect Offering, Iran Awakening), but I always viewed it as a genre I wasn’t drawn to, especially celebrity memoirs. But I actually read a lot this year and learned a lot from them, and I’m excited to pick up more in 2018.
Another thing that my 2017 reading really cemented is that I like biographies. I was never that interested growing up in such large books about a single individual, but there’s so much history in these big historical biographies that I’ve been really enjoying them. Plus, once you’ve read so many, you start to recognize a lot of the same people from book to book and see how all of the history ties together, which is pretty cool.
I think I’ve got a big enough stack of biographies to keep me busy in 2018, so I want to hold off buying any until I’ve read all of those, but I’m excited to keep reading more biographies and maybe branch out to figures from other parts of the world instead of staying focused on American history.
I’ve also talked about this a fair amount and I don’t want to beat a dead horse, but I’ve realized that I haven’t been reading the books I buy, or at least not in a timely fashion. So I want to keep working on my buying and reading habits in 2018, and you’ll see that appear as a concrete goal in my upcoming 2018 Reading Goals post.
How do you think your reading went in 2017? Let me know in the comments!