What’s your number?

Why does your number matter? Because it does, doesn’t it? We care about how many books we manage to read in a year. We compare our number with other people’s number. Even though the number is arbitrary. I mean I can read 50 Victorian or Russian novels in a year and someone else can read 100 romance novels – the classics are more difficult to read so of course they take longer time to read. Yet still we compare – I might think myself less accomplished for having read only 50 novels compared to someone else’s number. When you count how much you read in terms of number of books, Les Miserables count but so does Paddington. The number, your yearly total, is purely quantitative – it doesn’t say anything about quality of books read, their difficulty or anything. It just says that I’ve read that many books in a year.

For me, this means that you can’t really compare with someone else. But you can compare with yourself. I read a lot of different types of book – but I do this every year so it kind of evens out. I read a huge chunkster and then I read a short easy novel. My reading choices haven’t changed a lot for several years so I am able to compare my number from year to year.

I look at how many books I’ve read in the previous years and use that in part to determine how many book I would like to read this year. I can see how my life has changed since having kids by looking at the number of books I have had the time to read. And that fascinates me.

I also use my number to push myself. Last year, I read a measly 41 books and this year, I’m determined to do better. I have two small girls so even though I’m currently not working, a lot of my day is taken up by various tasks around the house or involving the kids. Still I decided that I wanted to read 52 books this year – I’m a fast reader so a book a week is definitely doable. But it’s only doable if I push myself so that’s what I use this number for. I use it to push myself to read almost all the time – or at least as often as I can.

Now, I don’t push myself just to reach my number. I push myself because I really want to read a lot of books since there are so many interesting books that I really really want to dive into and so, I have to read a lot of books each year. (And yeah, I know, compared to a lot of people, 52 books are not a lot but for me at this point in my life, it’s a challenge.)

The only issue I have with reading reading reading non-stop is, that sometimes, the books kind of merge in my mind when I hardly take any breaks in between reading them. But that’s not caused by trying to reach a number – that’s caused by my not being able to function without reading something every day. And having to sit down and write something about each book I read, definitely helps!

So what I’m trying to say is that setting a goal number helps me stay focused and helps me to read as many books I possible can. I care about the number because it means that I’ve given myself that amount of chances to read fabulous novels. I don’t care about the number in itself. A book every week means that I have 52 chances to dive into some author’s words and thoughts and immerse myself in their world. So far this year, I’m on track – or actually, I’m doing a bit better than that so if I can keep my current pace, I might end up with a grand total of 60 for this year. Yeah!

So what’s your number? Do you use it to stay focused or in some other way? Has your number changed significantly because of life changes? Let me know!

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