12 Reasons I Have Decided to Read One Book Per Week

“To read is to fly.” - A. C. Grayling

While New Year’s resolutions have never played an important role in my life (I can’t remember the last time I made one), I do think resolutions are essential. Life is defined by the decisions we make and I’ve come to view life as a series of adjustments. As we increase in age and wisdom, we begin to recognize opportunities in our life to grow and improve. And any decision to embrace that opportunity could best be labeled as a resolution (I’ve just never understood why we’d wait until January 1st to make the change).

On a related note, I like reading. Each time I read a new book, I am stretched as a person. I am forced to embrace a new thought and evaluate my life against it. I am taken to new places and enjoy conversations with new people. I am inspired, entertained, and invested into. I become a better person because of it… I just wish I did more of it.

That’s why I’ve taken this occasion of a new year to purposely resolve to read more books. For most of my life, I’ve averaged reading about one book per month. But for the next 52 weeks, I have resolved to read 52. After giving it some thought over the past few weeks, I have made the decision to read one book per week in2012 for a number of reasons:

1. It’ll make me a better writer. As one who enjoys spreading thoughts and inspiring others through the written word, writing is important to me. And reading always increases our capacity to write.

2. It’ll make me a better leader. Life requires relationship. Each of us interact with others on a daily basis. And our lives are either giving life to others or draining it from them. I want my life to give life to others and inspire them to live better. There is a growing passion in my heart to continue taking this message of “finding more life by owning less” to more and more people. I’m not entirely sure what that looks like down the road, but there’s a 100% chance leadership qualities will be required.

3. It’ll increase my worldview. Reading opens our heart to new ideas, new cultures, and new worldviews. Good art always does.

4. It’ll increase my breadth of knowledge. There is a world of inspiration to be discovered in books. There is also a world of knowledge to be found in books. I live my life trying to see the good in people believing that we can learn something from everybody… and since some have had the opportunity to write it down for us, it would make sense to take full advantage of their efforts.

5. It’ll increase my reading speed. Just like any skill in life, we improve with practice. While not a slow reader, I have never considered myself particularly fast either. No doubt, reading 52 books in 52 weeks will be a stretch for me. It will require my attention and practice and will likely increase my skill and pace in reading – at times, by necessity.

6. It’ll be a good example for my kids. My kids are young (elementary school) and still learning to read. I want them to embrace the practice with joy. I want them to become lifelong readers. And I want them to recognize their father as one who does the same.

7. It’ll increase my ability to dream big. While I have enjoyed reading all genres of books, I have always found special joy in biographies. Reading the stories of those who sacrificed much, inspires me to do the same. Reading the stories of those who loved unselfishly, inspires me to do the same. And reading the stories of those who accomplished much, inspires me to dream big and do the same.

8. It’ll stretch my self-discipline. No doubt, at times, this resolution will require discipline. The best ones always do.

9. It’ll stretch my creativity. New thoughts always stretch our minds to rediscover life in new ways. We begin to see the world differently. And we find new creative solutions because of it.

10. Books lead to greater relationships with the people around us. Books provide great opportunity to improve our existing relationships. Not only do they provide new conversation starters, they offer a new depth to our conversations as well. They encourage us to further pursue their claims within the world and people around us. As a result, they give us opportunity to not just grow in ourselves… but grow in our relationships with others as well.

11. It’ll help me better discern good ideas from bad ideas. One thing’s for sure, there are a lot of different approaches to life and the problems we face. Reading books provides opportunity to better discern what has worked in the past and what has not.

12. There are so many great books left to be read. There are books written to provide wisdom, inspiration, knowledge, and laughter. There is a wealth of life hidden inside of them… all we need to do is take the time to pick them up and read.

Thus far, I am on pace. I have recently completed Every Body Matters and Seven Days in Utopia. I am currently rereading Death by Suburb. And I have another book lined up to read after that. I hesitated a bit writing this post… but I desire the accountability. Putting resolutions out in a public forum encourages our discipline and resolve. It further calls us to pursue our goals as others have the opportunity to track our progress. And that encouragement will be valuable to me throughout.

Lastly, I wanted to encourage you. No doubt, if you read blogs, you are likely a reader already. But if not, there’s no better time to start than today. And while 52 books is a challenge that I believe fits into my life at this exact moment in time, you may find greater encouragement in reading 26 or 12. But either way, I’d love to have you join me in some way.

I’d also welcome any book recommendation in the comment section below.

Joshua Becker

About Joshua Becker

Writer. Inspiring others to live more by owning less.
Bestselling author of Simplify & Clutterfree with Kids.

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Comments

  1. Bob says

    A worthwhile project, just be sure to enjoy the journey. Important not to let the reading become another obligation in life. Enough of those already.

  2. Corinna says

    I made the same resolution this year. I have always been an avid reader, so I might be able to get through with this one ;)
    For the books: “The gift of fear” from Gavin de Becker and Tristine Rainer “The new diary”.

  3. says

    WOW! I’m really impressed by your resolution, and I’ll definitely stop back to check on your progress! I always squeeze reading to the last thing on my agenda (even though I love it for many of the same reasons you do), but then I’m too tired to do much of it before bedtime. I wish you great success.

  4. Qui says

    A book a week will clutter my thoughts. I committed to reading a classic book a month, then take time to process and write a paragraph review.

  5. says

    Damn you make me feel like an incredibly slow reader. There is absolutely no way I could manage a book a week unless I were to break out the Choose Your Own Adventure series. Even then I might have to purposely choose the more perilous options that are likely to end the story sooner. I envy you Joshua. How do you manage that much reading without it affecting other responsibilities though?

    • says

      As much as I enjoy this blog, I am not a fan of this post on reading a book a week. I have been an avid reader my entire life [63 years], and I feel comfortable making this statement: If Josh reads comic books or short books, he might accomplish his goal. If not, he will not gain the full benefit and value of a good book. Try reading “Les Miserables” or “War and Peace” in one week. You will never gain the benefit of a good book of substance by devouring it in a week. I can watch “Ben-Hur” on my DVD using fast forward at 8x its normal speed and finish the three hour film in just over 20 minutes, but I am certain I will not get the full value of the film. Speed reading might allow you to fill squares and check off books you have ‘read,’ but you will sacrifice the true joy of reading if you resort to that approach just to read for the sake of reading. I would rather read one book a month or one book every three months and draw fully from it than I would read a book a week just to say I did.

      • Bri says

        I doubt you’ll ever see this, Gene, but I wanted to respond to your post on the off-chance that you do. In the first place, I just want to remind you that we all have different reading/comprehension speeds. For most of my life, I’ve read 3-4 good, solid books per week, on subjects ranging from Jane Eyre to astrophysics, and I am certain that going at a slower pace would not have reduced my retention in the slightest. It doesn’t have to do exclusively with how fast you read—although that certainly is a large part of it—but more with how much you read. I read when other people are watching TV, or going out for a night on the town, or waiting in line, or checking their phones…

        I’m not trying to toot my own horn, nor am I trying to prove you wrong. I would just like to encourage you to consider how it might be possible to read, on average, a book per week—and to read it well. There are distractions to eliminate; there is focus to be sharpened; there is even your reading comprehension speed to improve—probably by means of the first two (eliminating distractions and improving focus). From both an enjoyment and retention standpoint, it’s very possible to read a book per week. And not everyone does it just to say they did—some people might actually do it for the self-improvement, the knowledge, the growth…

        Of course, some people may not have the time to read a book/week, and that’s understandable, but I don’t think that was your point. I think your point was that it’s not possible to maximize the benefits of reading if you fly through a book (or in my case, more!) every week. That said, you’re probably wiser. I’m 17 years old, and I don’t know a lot. But I do know that I’ve made reading a priority in my own life, and it has already benefitted me in so many different ways. There’s nothing wrong with putting a little more effort into it than the average person… You’ll only see above-average results.

        • says

          Bless your heart, Bri. I did see this post. Congrats on your ability to read at the rate you do and to gain full retention at your rapid rate. By the way, there is everything RIGHT with putting a little more effort into it than the average person, not just in reading but in everything you do.

        • S says

          I just want to agree with this post. I think it’s also important to remember that a book a week can just be an average. I keep a log on goodreads.com of my reading, and have so far read 50 books this year, which means that I’m reading more than 1 book a week. However, when you look at the reading, not all books are created equally.

          • S says

            Sorry, hit submit by accident. Anyway, not all the books are equal. It took me about three weeks to read Crime and Punishment this summer, but only a day or so to read Kafka’s Metamorphosis, which is much shorter. Some were books that I have read previously and so move through more quickly. Some were young adult books or easy beach-reads, which I find to be a fun “brain break” for myself. Some were plays, which read quickly. Some were simply so engaging that they kept me up reading all night until I finished them. In all of this, I think each reading experience was valuable, and none were rushed or wasted. Each of us has to decide what our own limits are and how to best monitor this kind of thing, but in this world where we are all so distracted and overwhelmed, a peaceful, quiet exercise like reading a book becomes easier and easier to push aside. Setting a goal to focus on it, however you might manage or approach that goal, is an important thing to consider.

  6. Joanna says

    I had to check if these were even printed in English. I highly recommend books by Jurgen Thorwald, especially “The Century Of The Surgeon” which depicts the development and pushing the boundries of surgery since the invention of anaesthesia and first two parts of “Proof of Poison”, which tell the story of introducing fingerprints as an identification technique and how doctors learnt about the signs that different deaths left inside the bodies.
    The first one is much shorter than the second and judging by Amazon much easier to find.
    I must say that I always note the names and authors of books that I read, and during good years I reach 100 books per year (and that includes both lenghty novels like East of Eden and short children’s books, which I just love because of the forced simplicity of language despite often complicated topics).

  7. says

    How is your resolution coming along? My apologies if you’ve already blogged about your progress. I would love to see the rest of your reading list. I am attempting to read 12 books this year, so far so good! I’m currently reading “Abundant Simplicity” by Jan Johnson. I think minimalism has helped my spiritual life as well. I have had to face how the anxiety of a hurried and cluttered life is crushing to my faith. But, I have been taking steps in the right direction starting with evaluating what’s most important to me. I love your blog! The calmness and clarity in your writing is inspiring.

  8. Sultan says

    That’s really a greate job. The only book that you find yourself astonished and need more time to discover its deep meaning is The Holy Quran. Because y like to read biography I strongly recommend y to read about the prophe Mohammed peace be upon him and to Jesus as well.

  9. ushakrishnan-India says

    when the beginning teachers, parents and elder persons advise us to read. But you have given benefit of reading. awesome message. thanks, UK

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  12. Tina says

    Hi Joshua,

    Thanks you for reminding me on the great joy and large amount of positive side effects (apart from the fun it is in itself to read) reading holds for me.
    If you do like biographies I would recommend anything written by Jana Frey. I am not sure you are able to get any wherever you may live. I am currently living in Germany.
    It is more likely meant for teenagers I believe – or maybe not. Anyhow I found a lot of good and inspirational and educational in her books, and maybe it gives you yet another idea of your own kids and their lives. Maybe give it a try if you like.

    Sunny wishes from Germany
    Tina

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  14. says

    I want to thank you for writing this blog. It is inspiring and I have decided to make the commitment of reading one book a week. I added this page to my favorites incase I need some motivation to keep me going to meet my goal of a book a week. :)

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