Reading Challenge – 40 books for 2014

I have always been a great reader; that is until around 5 years ago.  Admittedly, business books and business related biographies – never the less I read a lot.  You could even say that I had an addiction to seeking out great books to read.

So what happened?  Well, I am not entirely sure but I think that there were two influences.  Firstly, the biggie, the arrival of Number One Son (NOS).  I would not say that he took away much time overall, rather my (our) lifestyle priorities changed as we started to grow into parenthood.  I am guessing that, looking back, it was the rescheduling where I somehow lost the time-slot where I habitually read.  I certainly found that once the habit was broken, I filled the vacuum with ever longer snippets of TV via the PVR.

The other thing that changed was that I started working with a business coach, Jas Darer, and one of the key aspects was learning through reading certain themed books as well as a “book of the quarter”.  In hindsight this is where I found the most difficulty due to my in-built resistance to being told what to do; meaning that as soon as I have to do something I no longer want to do it.  (Remembering here that I chose the business coaching – it was not forced onto me).  I therefore found it hard to muster the motivation to keep up with the set books – even though this was far fewer than i used to read!  [As an aside, if I could just convince myself that it is mandatory to eat badly, I would probably rebel and so eat healthily].

To build the pressure further, at the beginning of last year (2013), Jas introduced a “Book of the month” to the programme.  As you can guess, moving to 12 books per year does nothing for the motivation when you are already finding it difficult to meet a 4 book per year commitment.

Then something changed.  I am still unable to explain it, but all of a sudden late summer, I made a conscious decision to, purposefully, just do it.  Almost over night I chose to make sure that I was no longer going to struggle to get the set books, that I nearly always enjoy reading (please no more Napoleon Hill!), completed on time.  I was going to prioritise the time to get the job done and by the end of December I was pretty much up to date.

So, what is with the challenge?

I want to get back to the level of reading I used to enjoy; and to clear some of the back-log of books I keep acquiring!  Also, NOS is in his second year of school and I want him to enjoy reading too – rather than ram it down his neck, I want to model a behaviour that demonstrates that it is good to make time to read.

A great way I have found of standing any chance of completing a challenge is to put-it-out-there to introduce some form of accountability – hence the reason for this post at the beginning of January 2014.  I am challenging myself to have read 40 books by the 31st December 2014 and to periodically post progress updates throughout the year – probably quarterly.

Why 40 books and not 12, 24, 52 or whatever?  Well I wanted it to be challenging so had to exceed the 12 “books of the month” that I would inevitably complete.  Adding a further 2 books per month made 36 and I thought that, therefore, 40 would be a nice round number.  It is my medium term goal to hit a reading rate in excess of 1 book per week – every week!

Why the back-log?  Well, I am addicted to buying books that I think will be an interesting read.  I would rather have a pile of books to go at – added to as I come across them, rather than be wasting effort seeking out the next as I finish each book.  I don’t want there to be any barriers to finding a good read.

What am I going to read?

  • There will be 12 of the “Book of the month” to get my teeth into.
  • I anticipate “falling over” some recommendations from a couple of email lists that I subscribe to.
  • Then there is the inevitable “must haves” as I browse bookshops up and down the country.
  • Finally, there is also the imminent backlog on my nightstand.

Therefore, I know that the following books will feature in the coming months:

The speed of trust: Stephen M R Covey
Feel the fear and do it anyway: Susan Jeffers
Moving forward: Henry Ford
The plutocrats: Chrystia Freeland
The power of habit: Charles Duhigg
One minute manager meets the monkey: Ken Blanchard (Book of the month January 2014).



So, lets see if I can beat my target of 40 books in 2014 – next update at the beginning of April where I expect to be able to report back that I am ahead of target.