Learning How to Read Again: The 5-Year Journey


When I was in elementary school, I read all the time.  It was encouraged at school and at home.  We had dedicated time to go to the school library and find a new book.  In the early years, I was all about the non-fiction.  The more science and math I could get my hands on, the better.  I later came to enjoy some novels and other parts of the fiction world.  Both my parents were (and still are) avid readers.  My mom would always have her hot tea and book ready to go in the evening.  My dad would stay up late reading some 1200-page biography of one our Founding Fathers.  There was a small bookshelf in the hallway that held me and my sister’s books. 

You might think that I would have been reading all day every day.  However, as I got further into my public education, there were books that were required for class.  These were classics or other books that I found absolutely boring.  Maybe I didn’t like the book or maybe I didn’t like the requirement of it.  The book report or discussion was the bane of my high school career.

The universe has a strange irony as I am now reading and writing more than ever before and talking about it on the internet.

New Beginnings:

Fast forward to my 3rd year of college:  I am living at home, taking plenty of classes, and yet I wanted to read more.  This was around the time I found reading again in the form of the Harry Potter series.  I really enjoyed the movies, but the books have all these rich details of the world and the characters.  I probably read those books faster than I had read a book in years.  Afterwards, I was at a loss of what to read next (I have solved this in current times with a massive TBR list).  I got caught up with my schooling and social life.  I struggled my way through my failed internship, working at a warehouse, starting an office job, moving out of my parent’s house, and later, moving to a new state. 

In my early 20s, I was really good at starting a book, but never finishing one.  I would put it down on the table and never pick it back up.  Even with the books displayed on the bookshelf, staring at me while I watched 1000s of hours of movies, TV, and YouTube videos.  I played 100s of hours of my computer games and yet, didn’t pick up one book…

Getting Serious:

I was over it and wanted a change, but I knew I had to be reasonable.  If you make a goal too difficult to attain, you will never have the confidence to keep pushing through.  In 2018, I made a goal, wrote it down and stuck with it.  My reading goal was to finish 3 books by the end of the year.  With the amount of free time I had, this seemed almost insulting to the excellent writers producing books. 

However, this was a goal for me.  This was not a goal for my bookworm friends or my parents or anyone else.  It was for me and I had to focus. 

The following 3 books started this journey:

Artemis by Andy Wier

Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil DeGrasse Tyson

Birds Art Life: A Year in Observation by Kyo Maclear

I was on my way and on December 26, 2018, I finished that 3rd book on my list.  I had met my goal and I was ready for more.  (See the table below to follow the numbers)

I was in a new state with a new job and I was excited for new experiences, so I was adventurous and tripled my reading goal from the previous year.  Reading Year 2019 included police procedurals, psychology, science fiction, and graphic novels.

While 2020 year was excellent for my reading goals, it was a difficult time for most of the world.  The “disease who must not be named” was all over the place and we got sent home to work (those that could).  So, while I was trapped in my tiny apartment and my role at work was being slowly phased out, I had plenty of time to read and escape into the world of the book.  Reading Year 2020 took me from the origin of the solar system to the trees of the Alaskan wildness, from financial discipline to the power of the introvert. 

Reading Year 2021 involved moving to a 3-bedroom duplex, which meant I had a separate “reading room” that I used frequently.  What a luxury!  This was the first year I tired out some short stories for the first time in a while.  They don’t have the depth of a 500-page novel, but sometimes you need something you can read in two hours, not 2 months.  This was the year that I found my real introduction into the SteamPunk genre of books.  I had played some computers games with a similar theme, but this was like jumping deep into the world.  I was hooked!  I also completed a couple of books that made me better understand my personal financial and political philosophy.  Who would have thought?

A keen eye would notice that my number of books read went down for Reading Year 2022, as I had moved again and started in a new role at work.  I still made it to through a 5-book fantasy series with magic and portals, a couple of deep space science fiction adventures, a guide to reduce distraction in an online world, and a review on how the business world will be forever changed by the Pandemic. 

And finally, we arrive at Reading Year 2023.  While the calendar year is not over, I have met my reading goals and have already stacked up books for 2024.  After slowly reading it for over 2 years, I finally finished Walden by Thoreau.  It is quite the journey, but I ultimately enjoyed it.  I also dove back into that same SteamPunk world with the famous Mortal Engines quartet.  I traveled back in time to see what the world was like in the Old West through Theodor Roosevelt’s eyes, and learned about how the National Park System got started in the USA.  I also stayed “on theme” with a pure economics book that probably would have bored a younger version of me to no end.  I finished the year with some short stories and a fascinating collection of real-life science that was either inspired or directly linked back to the phenomenon known as Star Trek.  I never knew we could teleport tiny atoms across a room. 

YearNumber of BooksNumber of Pages
GoodReads Year in Books

As you can see by the handy table above (who doesn’t love a good table?), regardless of my ups and downs, I am on a path of not only reading more in pure numbers, but enjoying the variety of stories and knowledge I am engaging.

What were your top three books this year?  How did you do with your yearly goals on other parts of your life?  Any good book recommendations for me?  My TBR list is still under 200, so why not?  ^_^

One thought on “Learning How to Read Again: The 5-Year Journey

  1. Congratulations on meeting your 2023 reading goal! While I can easily devour one fiction book after another, finishing one of the many non fiction books I have started is a real challenge. But sometime midyear, I determined to be more intentional with reading the non fiction books in my library. So far I have finished one (Invitation to Retreat, by Ruth Haley Barton), and I’d give it 5 stars. I read these personal growth types of books slowly and deliberately, but perhaps I will add a couple of non-study non fiction books to my own reading goals for the new year. 📚

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