I’m reading 80 books this year—Why I don’t recommend it

A bookshelf stacked with books of all kinds

I read 64 books in 2020. Last year, I read 70.

So naturally, I stretched the goal this year and set my GoodReads challenge to 80 books.

I’m hitting a point of diminishing returns. Let me explain.

I love reading. It calms me down and makes me feel like I’m entering another person’s mind while applying lessons to my own life. I also keep an extensive collection of notes with each book I read.

But 80 books is a lot. For the first time in my life, it feels like I’m reading to meet a quota instead of reading because I’m feeling pulled to. (I never read a single book in school.)

Not that that’s always a bad thing. I don’t always want to go to the gym but I force myself to go three times a week. That’s a number I have to hit because I know it’s good for me.

But the difference with reading books has been my lack of retention. I looked through my 2022 GoodReads list the other day. There were at least three books I didn’t remember reading at all.

I’ve been flying through audiobooks. If I don’t take notes, then within a week or two, all that I learn has left my mind. And even when I do take notes, it’s not like I’m reviewing what I capture every week.

Would you rather read 50 books you forget about or 5 books that change your life?

My point is: “I read 80 books this year” sounds sexy. It sounds impressive. It sounds like something you tell your friend who doesn’t read to make yourself feel big.

But I won’t be doing it again. I’m sacrificing enjoyment for quantity. It looks cool on the outside and feels grey on the inside. It’s like a gorgeous Instagram influencer who’s severely depressed. (Does that make sense? I’m not depressed.)

Goals can be great. But we have to know why we’re pursuing them. “Because it sounds impressive” is a terrible reason.