What If I Only Read 100 Books This Year?

January 13, 2016 — 6 Comments

Realistically, this probably won’t happen. But, since noting the perils of reading too much, I have thought about ways to cut down. In that post I also pointed out Tim Challies Reading Challenge. After giving it a bit of thought, it seemed good to me and the Holy Spirit to give it a shot.

I need to prioritize reading in order to feed myself, but I need to prioritize other tasks more so that reading doesn’t become a gluttonous activity. I go back and forth about spending my morning doing other things and pushing reading into the afternoon. Ultimately, this might be best since I like reading enough to still do it in the afternoon, whereas making it to the gym can be put off once I’m tired. I may have to ease into adjusting my morning routine, so bear with me.

When it comes to the reading challenge, if I complete it in full, I’ll read 104 books. That’s a bit low for me, given my past history according to Goodreads. As you can see, I usually average around 150 a year:

Book stats

(Not pictured: 2012, which was a low year of 103 books)

Full disclosure, I didn’t read the NICOT Psalms volume cover to cover (I’m doing that this year). I did read enough of it to consider it “read” though. I do that with some longer works, usually commentaries, but not with the other two longest books pictured, which I did read cover to cover. Anyway, I digress…

This year, I thought I’d try to broaden my reading and get back to reading more for enjoyment than for busyness. I say that because I often I end up reading books that are ok for the most part (usually 4 stars given my rating system) but are not particularly enjoyable. I feel obligated to read these books for one reason or another, and so dutifully complete them. Often, this turns into a form of procrastination. Everyone only has so much time in the day, so if I’m reading 150-160 books a year that average 256 pages (last year at least), then I’m doing that instead of many other things. I feel obligated to read these books, but often I don’t really have to, and I’m putting off doing something else (like writing).

Instead, I’d like to read less but read better. Hopefully, this first leg of the Reading Challenge can help. The way it works is like a snowball. You begin with the Light Plan, which includes 13 books:

  • A book about Christian living
  • A biography
  • A classic novel
  • A book someone tells you “changed my life”
  • A commentary on a book of the Bible
  • A book about theology
  • A book with the word “gospel” in the title or subtitle
  • A book your pastor recommends
  • A book more than 100 years old
  • A book for children
  • A mystery or detective novel
  • A book published in 2016
  • A book about a current issue

Some of these are obviously in my wheelhouse. It does have quite a bit more fiction than I usually read, but I need to read more of that anyway. I put some thought into it and came up with this list for the first leg:

Some of these are still pretty typical reads for me, but I think it is a little bit broader than normal. I’m trying to utilize books for review where possible, but also trying to think outside the lines when I can. I’m still taking recommendations for a “book that changed my life,” I got a few on Twitter, but am still undecided. Feel free to lobby for something for me to add there.

In the meantime, I’ll get to reading and once I finish this set, I do another set of 13, then a set of 26, then a set of 52. Sounds like fun right?


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I'm an avid reader, musician, and high school Bible teacher living in central Florida. I have many paperback books and our house smells of rich glade air freshners. If you want to know more, then let's connect!

6 responses to What If I Only Read 100 Books This Year?

  1. I looked over my book list out of curiosity over which have been most influential in my life. Here are the ones I remember being most powerful as I read them, which I suspect have had lasting effects.

    Humility (Mahaney)
    The Bait of Satan (Bevere)
    Spiritual Reformation (Carson)
    Power through Prayer (Bounds)
    Vertical Church (MacDonald)
    A Praying Life (Miller)
    Life Together (Bonhoeffer)
    A Meal with Jesus (Chester)

  2. First, I like your blog. Thanks for taking the time and effort to do it. This is a very minor comment, and if I am in error please ignore this. Shouldn’t your headline instead read:
    What if I Read Only 100… ? I’m afraid I have a problem with limiting modifiers (just, only, and ….) that seem to me to be in the wrong place. Regardless, I am very impressed by you and Challies and others who can read so much and still do other things. Have a great year.

    • Jim, thanks for the encouragement on the blog!

      As far as the “only” would the reasoning be that it modifies “100” instead of “read”?

      • Yes. Again, a very minor point in this case. There are situations where it would not be obvious what is meant; not so here. Another example:

        “The doctor only examined the children.” vs “The doctor examined only the children.”

        Nothing at all to worry about until you plan to land on the bestseller list. May God continue to bless you!

  3. It’s great. In Mark Dever’s interview of Carson, they remark that when Carson originally delivered the lectures at some seminary it changed the way students prayed there for years to come.

    I’ve really appreciated your posts about reading less. One of the other things I noticed looking over my book list was that I have been more affected by books that I took time on and books that led me to prayer. I spent a whole Christmas break on Spiritual Reformation so I guess it was a return on the investment.

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