At the beginning of this year, I had set up a goal of reading 30 books. From the title, you can’t tell, but I did pretty well. I met my target and then did one more extra. Just for the heck of it! When you publicly disclose 30 books as a target on a platform like Goodreads you know you can achieve that number easily and then some, but deep down you are always secretly hoping to hit a number that starts to sound a bit ridiculous, like 50 or 70 books a year. My personal best has been 43 books a year and that might as well have been a 47 or 48 and it would still not have been a 50.
Those are the number when you say out loud, you pause to rethink if you even make sense to yourself. Because at that point the listeners aren’t thinking, “Wow! That’s impressive.” They are more in the, “I am sure you just browsed through most of them, right?” kind of zone. They start doing the math, like, “that’s 1 book every 5 days. Are you kidding me? Either you have no life outside of books or you are simply lying about it.” Because to most people, it’s a boring exercise. It has nothing to do with how knowledgeable or smart they actually are, they just don’t find the medium of books to be that entertaining. I don’t either. When it comes to consuming content, and books in particular, it’s perhaps a toss between the 3rd and 4th spot for me. If you are one of those people who love consuming content in any form or have an eclectic taste or simply a thirst for knowledge or entertainment, you know very well that 50 or 70 books is a cakewalk, as long as you love books.
I mean, if you have 3 or 4 hours of Instagram screen time every day and it spikes to sometimes a ridiculous 6 or 7 hours, then that probably translates to at least an audiobook every 2-3 days. Sometimes even less than a day! You still have a few more hours during the day to consume some more content, in some other form. Maybe a movie, maybe a soccer match, or maybe you have an addiction towards one of those series, that ended in the early 2000s but you can’t stop watching the reruns of it. Seriously, I still meet people who say they love to watch FRIENDS all the time. Really? All the time? And when you ask them if they are one of those recent fans of the show, the answers are usually between a clear “yes” to a vague and defensive “yes”, but sometimes you also meet people who are like, “Nope, been doing it for 15 years straight!”
Anyway, I digress, the point is 50 shouldn’t be a difficult milestone. I personally find it challenging, because I love podcasts a little too much. I mean if podcasts and books were siblings and I parented both of them, podcasts could beat the shit out of books, and I would still side with him (or her). Even though I’d know very well that the latter is making a structured argument, but the former is just more fun. It has a sense of humour, a personality, but also occasionally lies and makes absurd arguments for attention. But hey! At least it keeps it entertaining and fun in the house. Books can be entertaining too, but often have that snobbish “I am always right” side to them. And most of the time they are right! Until you read one of those self-proclaimed guru’s books that is basically just his or her opinions. No actual research behind it, nothing to prove that the methods prescribed actually work. Just a bunch of opinions. Some really controversial ones at that.
So yes, I love Podcasts, more than movies, more than books, more than social media, or games and if my podcast times were an audiobook, I definitely hit a 50 there or more.
What else we don’t consider about the speed at which you can consume content. Your input time. You can speed up or slow down the content all you want. But let’s be honest, when was the last time you slowed a content and watched it? If it’s the thing that you are doing is the only thing that you are focused on then you can listen to it at 1.5x speed almost all the time. If you missed something, then stop and rewind 15 seconds but go back only 10 seconds in time. Isn’t that amazing? The Instagram people can’t do that, but YouTube people can. I am the YouTube people. I think you can do it through any platform, as long it doesn’t require touching or scrolling the screen every 5 seconds.
Do you miss out on the details when you are not reading a book but instead listening to audiobooks? Or when you are listening to a youtube podcast and not watching it? Occasionally, yes! But that’s when you go back and bookmark it or save it for later, or make a note of it. But if you know it’s not that important piece of information then just leave it. Don’t worry about it. Every word is not important. It’s the overall concept that is to be understood. Dates and time stamps and technical jargon do require an additional level of effort and dedication. It happens while consuming every type of content. There are some really active and passionate movie and series watchers who remember every character’s name and their sun sign, and then there are people who are constantly on their phones but have also watched all the seasons of all the new shows on the side. The sweet spot is somewhere in the middle. Maybe, check the phone only if there is a text you have to really reply to. Else everything can wait.
So I read about 31 books this year and if I could really be honest and push myself I would complete 33 books, a number that’s not that different from 31 books if you ask me. So I will carry forward it to next year. Little sneaky things you do to gain a bit of social currency!
I will review my experience with the kinds of books I read and what I think about them in my next post.