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Catching Up on My 2020 Reading Challenge (or: How It Caught Up With Me)

(or: How I plan to read a book every three days)

Last year, I hit my target of 26 books for my 2019 reading challenge. I over-performed by reading 33 books, which is 7 books in excess. 1You’d hope I’d be able to do simple math like that, given how many financial books I read last year.

Naturally, at the close of the year, I decided I’d do 52 books in 2020. Should be easy, right? I have about 2 hours of commute to the office every weekday (I even said so in an earlier post that I’d forgotten about!), and I sometimes even make the twenty-minute walk to the library to have some alone time for the sole purpose of focused reading.

Yeah, well, 2020 happened (is happening?) and the pandemic hit, and as my work hours went from “usually 8 hours + 2 hours of commute” 2It also coincided with my first weeks/months at a new workplace, and not being staffed on anything substantial at that point. to “hellscape of 16+ hour days some days, working from home”, my content consumption hours also got drastically cut down.

Which is to say, right now at the nearly halfway mark of October, I’m at 26 books 3This is also not absolutely accurate – there was a period of two weeks after binging The Babysitters Club on Netflix that I dove all the way back to nostalgia, and read about a dozen of those books that gave me such comfort during my pre-teen/teen years. I didn’t log them on Goodreads, since that felt like cheating.. Goodreads chirpily tells me I’m 14 books behind schedule.

Still, I’m optimistic.

With 26 books to hit, and 80 days left to the year, that’s approximately one new book every three days. I have a few days of leave I have to take at work (before they disappear into the void, never to be seen again), without any travel plans for the near to mid future.

Here’s my rough plan:

  • Use meal breaks to read — I know, this sounds so pedestrian, and shouldn’t you be doing it already? The short shameful answer is no. The longer answer is I’ve been using the time when I’m actually eating to catch up on social media and Reddit, or playing this game called Choices: Stories You Play which is kiiiinda like reading, since it’s an “interactive narrative experience”? On top of that, since lunch break is technically an hour long during work days, and I usually shovel my food in my mouth and get done in 15 minutes, I could be using the rest of the time for something more enriching than diving back into work.
  • Use the earlier hours of the day — I track my time, which means I know that I spend an inordinate amount of time between waking up and getting dressed just lounging in my bed. (I mean, I’d know that anyway, but it’s quantified!) If I could set a timer for 15 – 20 minutes during that time to read, that could chip away at my goal.
  • Improve my reading speed and accuracy — Just for kicks, I tried a few reading speed tests. My average speed came out to be around 700 wpm, which according to the scales on each of these sites, fall into the exceptionally fast category. The accuracy, on the other hand, hovers around 70 – 85%, so clearly I sacrifice the true absorption of facts to speed.

We’ll check back in nearer to the end of the year. If you’re reading this, let me know if you’re doing a reading challenge too, and/or what you’re reading right now!

2 thoughts on “Catching Up on My 2020 Reading Challenge (or: How It Caught Up With Me)”

  1. Pingback: Books to last me 'til the end of the year – Jalyn Cai

  2. Pingback: 2020: Year in review – Jalyn Cai

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