A year in 104 books

TL;DR: I spent around 800 hours reading in 2021. On the way, I learned a lot about books, the world, and myself. It was a fun challenge, and I will absolutely do it this year again.

View full list of read books

Last January, I saw a Youtube video. A person who read 100 books was reviewing the books they particularly enjoyed. To be honest, I don’t even remember why I thought it was a good idea to read exactly 100 books. However, in the end, it was a great experience.

Have a routine

To read 100 books in a year, I needed to finish two every week. Given that most of the books that I read were around 300 pages and they take 8 to 9 hours to complete – I simply had to spend about 3 hours a day reading.

In summer, when it was light early, I got up around 6 in the morning and read before starting work around 9. In winter, getting up early when it was still dark was a challenge, so I ended up reading during lunchtime or after work.

It’s OK to leave books unfinished

No matter how hard I tried, some books were just impossible to finish for me. I would get bored and lose interest, or the style would start disturbing me, or I would get worked up over the plot. In the beginning, I forced myself to go on, but in the end, I realized that it wasn’t really worth it. Abandoning books halfway isn’t a failure.

Change genres and have fun

For some reason, all the books I read around springtime were about deep topics: economics, feminism, or racism. I noticed at some point that I started dreading reading. That’s when I began going for lighter subjects and tried out genres that I’ve never been particularly interested in, like fantasy or sci-fi, just to mix things up.

After reading books by Agatha Christie, which I highly enjoyed but felt guilty about, I discovered: it didn’t matter which genres I read. What mattered was what I learned and what ideas I picked up in the process. Having fun and getting some food for thought was more important than reading a brainy book which I hated every page.

Would I do it again?

All in all, I think the time I’ve spent reading last year was not at all wasted. Frankly, being stuck at home during Covid gave me a lot of free time I would’ve otherwise spent on meaningless surfing of the internet.

I think going for quantity was a good call. I started off reading books I was interested in. However, as time passed, I stopped being picky and chose books at random.

Sometimes I buy books because of the cover: you can’t tell me that the cover of Sin Eater by Megan Campisi or Cat and the City by Nick Bradley aren’t beautiful.

On other occasions, I bought books because I was looking for books that were not about the “Western world”, e.g., Karachi Vice by Samira Shackle or Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

Sometimes I would just pick up whatever was lying around in the house that I haven’t read yet, like You’ll Never Believe What Happened to Lacey by Amber Ruffin.

Of course, I also ended up reading books because of the sheer hype. How could I miss the latest book of Haruki Murakami or walk past a cover that says the author won the Nobel price?

I absolutely recommend doing some challenges like this. Even if I had read 30 or 40 books, I would’ve learned a lot about various topics. In fact, in 2022, I plan to read 100 books by authors from 100 different countries. Last year my choice of books was not very diverse, to say the least: most were by European or American authors.