Why I’m Focusing on Reading Quality, Not Quantity, in 2018

Aiming to read a certain number of books in a year helps to keep you focused.

Sharing that number online adds a further level of accountability.

It’s thanks to tracking my reading on Goodreads that I read more books in 2017 than in any other year of my life.

I’m super proud of this achievement, but, as I got further into my goal for the year, cracks started to appear.

There were some books that needed to be read more slowly so that I could fully understand and process their wisdom.

Other books—particularly fiction—didn’t require this quite so much. I read more nonfiction last year, though, and I intend to continue this trend in 2018.

That’s why, in 2018, my new goal is to focus on reading quality, not quantity.

Should you focus on reading quality, or reading quantity? What's really important when you want to improve as a writer?
The last book I read in 2017, complete with some of my scribbled notes.

When I read something, the most important factor to me has always been enjoyment. I didn’t read much for fun when I was younger. None of my friends really read, either, so I didn’t have anyone to recommend books to me. Most of the books I did read came from people recommending them to Mum for me, or they were based on something that I watched, such as The Princess Diaries.

One of the downsides of using Goodreads is that I stopped writing notes on books as I’ve finished reading them. It was so quick and convenient to add that I’ve finished it, and leave a quick rating, that any analysis often went out of the window.

I still have my old book journal though, so I’m going to put that somewhere prominent so that when I do finish reading a book, I can make notes on what I’ve learnt.

It will be interesting to go back and read through notes I made a couple of years ago on books such as The Hunger Games.

For nonfiction, meanwhile, I want to make more notes as I read. That way, I have a quick reference guide of every useful piece of information from said book.

Sure, I can highlight things, but once I’ve done that, then what? It doesn’t help me to remember anything.

Making notes by hand helps to cement thoughts and ideas into our brains. My handwriting is appalling, but hopefully making notes by hand will help to improve it again! (Probably not, though.)

I’ve learnt more in the last three years than I ever thought I could. It’s had nothing to do with a formal education, either. Everything I’ve learnt has been self-taught. And I actually think that helped to keep me focused.

Last year I read 55 books. That feels like a good number to me. Reading any more would leave me with less time to write and work on other projects. So instead, it’s time to really delve into what I’m reading and what I can get out of it instead.

I still believe you can learn just as much from books you don’t enjoy as ones that you do enjoy. But the full benefit of that will only come if you delve deep into what you do and don’t like about said book. When you read lots of books in a short space of time, this is a lot more difficult.

What are your reading plans for 2018?

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