How many books did you read this year?

At the end of each year, I like to cast my mind back and tot up all of the books I’ve managed to finish. This year, it looks like I’ve only managed to get through the following:

  1. Underland by Robert MacFarlane;
  2. The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham;
  3. Buffettology by Mary Buffett;
  4. Why Stocks Go Up and Down by Bill Pike;
  5. Common Stocks and Uncommon Profits by Philip Fisher;
  6. Financial Times Guide to Investing by Glen Arnold;
  7. Ikigai by Albert Liebermann and Hector Garcia;
  8. Frederick the Great by Tim Blanning; and
  9. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.

Excluding audiobooks, that appears to be it. By comparison to last year, this list is much more compact. I can partially account this to the fact that I’ve been either driving to work or working from home for most of the year rather than taking the tram (for Corona reasons). Those 50 or so work-daily minutes previously spent on the tram had been dedicated to getting through my latest borrowing from the library, so the omission of the usual public transport commute will probably have accounted for a book or five. I also seem to have been much busier at work as of the last few months, with overtime spilling into workday evenings and weekends.

Having said all this, I don’t think a grand total of nine books (one of which was a novella) over the course of an entire year is good enough. When I consider the amount of Netflix and other passive forms of entertainment I have managed to vegetate through, I’m feeling a tinge of remorse that I should have made more time for reading and learning.

On the plus side, I feel like I’ve made a decent start with my endeavours to begin learning Chinese (and if you’d like to know what resources I’m using, check out my post on the topic here). I have made a lot of my time spent driving to work this year productive by listening to the Coffee Break Chinese podcast on Spotify which I’d highly recommend alongside the paper-based resources discussed in the above-linked post.

So with the goal of bringing up my book count for 2021, I’ve set up a Goodreads account and will be setting my reading target for 2021 to 18 books i.e. double what I managed this year. This seems entirely reasonable and I would hope that I will be able to exceed this target. Just a thought on this though: as I am around a quarter of the way through Don Quixote currently, when I finish it does it count toward my 2020 tally or my 2021 tally?

The intention here is not to just speed-read and scan my way through as many books as possible, but just to make a conscious effort to allocate more of my free time to the activity of reading at my usual reading pace.

I’d be interested to hear how others have got on this year. With all the turmoil of 2020, have you managed to read more than usual or has your book count gone down like me? Let me know in the comments!

Here’s to a a better year in 2021.

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