A Guide to Making the Goal Happen
Reading a book a week is easy. All you have to do is open a different book on each Sunday and read a page. You’ve read the book or at least a portion of it. Finishing a book a week can be a little more difficult. Still, it’s far from impossible, and if you’ve set this as a goal for yourself, you can achieve it, and it will be easier than you think.
There are a couple of things you need to realize about this goal. It’s your goal. Whether you make it or not, you’re only accountable to you. There’s no reason to get distraught if you’re not completing your goal. Life happens. There are important things that happen and may come as a surprise. Hopefully, they are good surprises that distract you from the goal. If they are not, simply push through the difficult times and get back on track as soon as you can. Finishing a book a week should be considered the average over a certain time period. If you don’t finish a book one week, you may be able to finish two books the next week to compensate.
What’s Your Motivation?
Stephen King said, “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time or tools to write.” As a writer I recognize the importance of reading to my art, craft, and work. If you’re not a writer, you may have other reasons to accomplish the book a week goal. You need to know what these reasons are. Do you want to be able to brag about your reading? Do you want to improve your compassion? Do you want to delve into the classics or become a specialist in an area? Do you just want to be smarter and have things to talk about with other people? Knowing your motivation will help you choose the books you’re motivated to read.
What Is a Book?
The first thing you need to do is decide what “a book” is for your goal. Are you going to count everything in the book section of your local bookstore? Are comic books magazines or are they books? Do graphic novels count? What about children’s books and novelty books? You’re in charge, so you get to decide what counts as a book and what doesn’t. Personally, I count graphic novels and children’s books. Graphic novels allow me to see how stories are visually presented, and they allow me to consume a different genre than I may otherwise. They also allow me to catch up on reading if I get behind.
There’s nothing wrong with children’s or picture books being a part of the equation. You can learn a lot from the books in the children’s section because they are written at a child’s level, and they generally stir clear of any political agenda. With a children’s book, you either get a non-fiction just the facts type of book, or get you get a gentle story that will improve your mood and outlook.
Children’s books are often the first place I go when I want to learn about a new subject. They are entertaining and easier to understand. The bonus is that many children’s books are cheaper than non-fiction books written with more jargon and larger words, which means if I’m not sure that I want to know more about a subject, I don’t have to invest a lot of money to find out. Young adult books are another good source to go to for quick reads with a lot of pages.
Do Audiobooks Count?
This is your goal. If you want to count, audiobooks, you can. It’s entirely up to you. When I first started, I was big into audiobooks, but my goal was to finish reading them. So, I kept track of the audiobooks I finished and how much time I spent listening to them, but I did not count them toward the number of books I finished reading. You totally can, though.
What’s Your Genre?
What genre do you love to read and read the fastest? My niece reads a lot of dystopian fiction, and she burns through them at a rapid pace. I tend to read fantasy at a breakneck speed. I get bogged down in nonfiction books and collections of short stories because there’s no thread of a story to pull me through. Chances are that you’ll read your favorite genre faster than you read others. If you know what it is, you can choose those books when you need to boost your speed or the number of pages read. You probably don’t want all of your books to be in that genre, but it depends on why you’re setting yourself the goal of reading a book a week.
Set a Baseline
Since 2010, I have finished a book a week every year on average. In that first year, the books I read had an average of 221 pages each. I was going to college for an Early Childhood Education degree, so that helped. But this first year was just a baseline for me. With all goals, you should try to get better. In 2019, my average book was 261 pages. Every year, I set the goal at just one more page than the last year. In 2015, I missed my goal, but I made up for it at the end of 2016.
In order to set up a baseline, you want to keep track of the books you read, and I suggest, the number of pages. There’s a temptation just to go down to the children’s section of the library, sit down for four or five hours and read 52 picture books. Goal accomplished! However, do you really want just children’s books on your list when you’re done with the goal?
How Many Pages Can You Read?
Another baseline, you want to consider is how fast can you read. I read about a page a minute, which is faster than my mom but super slow compared to my niece. However, this isn’t to compare myself to them; knowing how fast I read, in general, allows me to understand roughly how many pages I can finish in an hour. The reality is that I finish between 48 and 60 pages an hour depending on a variety of factors and variables. At the end of the week, if I’m close to finishing a book, I can set aside the extra time to get it done based on how many pages are left and how quickly I read.
What Counts as a Page?
You get to choose what counts as a page. For me, I read the introductions and prefaces of all the books, even when those pages are notated with Roman numerals and won’t count toward my final goal. I tend to skip bibliographies and reference notes, unless they provide additional information. That means the book will end at “The End” or when the last complete sentence is written. However, I will count the About the Author page as part of the numbered pages, especially if there isn’t anything in between it and the story but a blank page or two. The big thing here, though, is you don’t want to overthink it. (Too late, right?) It’s your goal; you choose how the page count is going to work for you. You could even leave page counts out all together; I just find them motivating.
Choose the Books
Once you’ve set the goal, you need to choose your books. You don’t have to get all 52 books at once; though, if you’re setting this goal, you probably have a to be read pile somewhere. I suggest picking up four or five to start with. Go to the independent bookstore and choose the newest books if you’re looking for conversation starters, or go to the used store and get some classics if you want to beef up your cultural knowledge. If you know what minimum page count per book you want to achieve, choose only books that are bigger than that. You can also go to the library depending on your book reading speed and check out the books, but remember to return them on time. Better yet, check to see if your library has a selection of books you can buy.
Do the Actual Reading
Now, you have to do the actual reading. There’s no magic bullet. There’s no secret sauce. If you want to accomplish your goal, there are no shortcuts. You have to do the reading. If you want to get fit, you have to exercise. If you want to play the violin better, you have to practice. If you want to save money, you have to cut your expenses. If you want to read a book a week, you have to make the tie to read.
Fortunately, one rule will help you accomplish the goal: ABAB. Always bring a book. It doesn’t matter where you’re going or how long you think you’re going to be there, bring a book. If you end up having to wait for someone or something, or your car breaks down, you’ll have an opportunity to read. If you’re going to the dentist’s or doctor’s, take a book. Going to meet the principal of the school? Take a book. Is your computer updating? Don’t watch the bar; read a book. Even if something happens, your eyes will notice the lack of movement (and some of those updates take forever). Going to work? Take a book. You can read it on your lunch hour (or half hour) and on your 15-minute breaks. Paperbacks are good for this. Stick them in your bag and bring them with you.
Once you have ABAB working in your favor, you will still need to set some time aside every day to read. Most people will choose to read before going to bed. However, some will find it easier to get the day’s reading done in the morning. If you set aside an hour, you’ll be golden. Be sure to turn off the phone, turn off the computer, and go to a good place to read where you won’t be distracted by your electronics and their communications.
You can take ABAB a step further and always have a book handy. (I’d make an acronym of that, but it doesn’t read as well: AHABH.) If you have a pet that likes to sit in your lap, you can cuddle with them and still get some reading done. My dad does a lot of reading in the bathroom. Having a pile of books on the nightstand next to the bed is good, having books in the kitchen, near the couch, and wherever else you tend to spend your time is better.
Chances are you’re going to have to cut something out. For me, it was magazines. I like to read them; I think they have good information. I have one magazine subscription that I swear I’m going to get to. Those are stacked up a decade high. (I will read them one day!) I don’t read them because I haven’t figured out how to get them to count toward the goal. I thought about moving to a straight page goal rather than book goal, but that seems like too much work.
If you’re like most people you binge watch your favorite shows. Stop it. Instead, watch one episode and then reward yourself by reading a book. You’ll spread out the enjoyment of the show while also getting your reading done. YouTube is another time waster. Do you really need to see another cat video or a makeup artist doing whatever it is they do? Do you need to watch another review about movies coming out that no one has seen or the reactions to their trailers? There’s some wonderful, informative, entertaining content on YouTube, but like Netflix, you should binge watch it. Don’t go down that rabbit hole!
What games do you play on your phone? Candy Crush, Farmville, Match 3… Whatever you play, is it adding to your life or just wasting time? Do you pull up the game because you have nothing better to do? Get your book out and use that time to read: a sentence, a paragraph, a page or whatever you can instead of wasting time with the game, you can waste it with a book. If you have five minutes to watch a video or play a game, you have five minutes to read.
Stop driving! Unless you’re counting audiobooks and listening to them in your car, which I don’t recommend because it can be a distraction, you spend a lot of time in your car doing nothing but driving. (Hopefully, driving is a complicated task and it should be the only thing you do in the car.) Take the bus or public transit. I get it. In most places in the U.S., the public transit system is terrible, but you can make it work for you. Once you know the route, you can read at the bus stop while waiting and on the bus while it’s getting to your stop. The same applies for a light rail system. Side benefits include not dealing with road rage or other dumb drivers, saving money on gas and other car-related expenses, and improving the environment.
We all do things out of habit that aren’t good for us or take time away from our day. If you can find those things that you do without thinking about it that are time wasters, you can eliminate them. It might take some examination, but you can become more efficient and gain more time for yourself and for reading. Small steps are the key to accomplishing great things.
More than One at a Time
You should try to read more than one book at a time. This may seem counter-intuitive, but consider this. You have a goal of books that are 240 pages or more. You read about 30 pages a day. You’ll finish your first book in eight days and be a day behind in your reading.
If you’re able to read the same book at 25 pages per day and a second book at 5 pages a day, you’ll finish your first book in 10 days, and you’ll have read 60 pages in your second book. This reading habit will allow you to read larger books that will reduce the overall number of pages you need to read per book, without slowing you down too much. If you can keep books in different places, you’ll be able to read more variety and get more out of your goal. Paperbacks are great for travel. Larger books can stay at home.
Keep a Record
When you’re finished with a book, write it down and keep a record. I use an excel spread sheet. It contains the position in which the book was finished, the title of the book, the date finished and the number of pages in the book. I used to make notes about the book, like series and subject, but I’ve given that up. You can always read a book twice. Classics are great for that, especially “A Christmas Carol.”
Your local libraries probably have an adult reading program with prizes. Free stuff for reading? Yes, please. They usually happen during the summer, so go down in mid-May and ask about it. The best part is that they often require you to read different genres, which will allow you to get out of your comfort zone and explore new books. Some local bookstores offer the same type of deal. You don’t even have to buy books from them. A book club, where a group of people gets together to discuss a book on a weekly or monthly basis could also provide you with extra reasons to read. Reading is more than fundamental; it’s the key to improving imagination, being more compassionate, and ensuring freedom. But you don’t have to take my word for it:
At Lincoln City Archery, we support independent authors. In addition to a collection of books on archery, we have a wide variety of books written by self-published writers. These are books that you generally wont’ find in larger bookstores that rely on publishing house distributors. Many of our books are written or edited by local authors (including the range leader at our location).
At Lincoln City Archery, we provide archers the opportunity to increase their knowledge of traditional archery and practice their skills at our indoor archery range in Lincoln City, Oregon. Like traditional archery, reading books takes focus and concentration. Turning off your electronics and reading a book for an hour will improve your focus and concentration. If the story is good enough, it won’t even seem like practicing. Plus, it’s a great way to pass the time when you can’t make it to the range. Happy shooting, happy reading, and let’s get on target.