#50booksthisyear: A reading challenge

The average number of books humans is twelve books. This is if you read regularly, meaning one book a month. The average reader reads four books in one year. That’s one book each quarter.

Reading that over, I feel a bit of pain in my stomach. Four books isn’t a lot.

So I ran the math.

If you read four books a year, you’ll only read 280 books in your lifetime. This is assuming that you start reading in your 20s and you live through your 90th year on earth.

OK. 280 books isn’t as depressing as four books. But here’s the thing. There are literally hundreds of books that pundits, critics, and other voracious readers deem “must-reads”. Your 280 limit will get filled up quickly by scouring through these lists alone.

The #50booksthisyear reading challenge

#50booksthisyear: A reading challenge

This is why I’m starting this challenge. You see, no one wants to read fewer books. Reading actively fills us with a sense of satisfaction and achievement. And once you finish this challenge, I hope you find that reading more isn’t too difficult if you put your minutes every day.

In the #50booksthisyear reading challenge, you’ll aim to read fifty books by the end of the year. You can read all forms of books, from non-fiction, business, biographies, novels, etc. Audiobooks are good, too. Graphic novels and comic books are out of the question, of course.

You will need to have a publicly available log—whether it’s a Goodreads account or a page on your website like this one, is entirely up to you.

If you have your log linked to this page, I will come back to your log on the first week of January next year, and award you the following badges.

  • The “Bronze Bookworm” Badge – awarded to participants who were able to read at least eight (8) books in one year.
  • The “Silver Bookworm” Badge – awarded to participants who were able to read at least twenty-five (25) books in one year.
  • The “Gold Bookworm” Badge – awarded to participants who were able to read at least fifty (50) books in one year.

You can also post on social media using the hashtag, #50booksthisyear.

If you don’t know which book to get started on, I have a list of recommended books on this page, as well as on my weekly newsletter.

My reading log

1.) THE COMPLETE STORIES (Flannery O’Connor)

I read this at the beginning of the year. I’ve been wanting to read Flannery O’Connor for awhile. This collection is a very good introduction to her writing, I think. “The Complete Stories” has great stories with even greater range, including of course the author’s most famous work, “A Good Man Is Hard to Find”. // Read (TBP): January


2.) COMPANY OF ONE (Paul Jarvis)

Paul Jarvis has a contrarian opinion about growth in business. In “Company Of One”, he doesn’t completely denounce it. Instead, he casts it in a smaller role. I’ve been following Paul for quite a while now, and I’m happy to see his work flourish into something real now. // Read (Hardcover): February


3.) BLOW-UP (Julio Cortázar)

I’ve seen Michaelangelo Antonioni’s “Blow-Up” many times over, but I’ve yet to read the short story it’s based on. So, when I saw a paperback copy of this stellar collection of Julio Cortázar’s short fiction, I took the chance. I found new favorites here, including the story “Axolotl”, a hyperrealistic work that’s as impressionistic as Antonioni’s movie. // Read (TBP): February


4.) BETTER LIVING THROUGH CRITICISM (A.O. Scott)

I’m used to reading A.O. Scott’s movie reviews at The New York Times, but I was pleasantly surprised coming into “Better Living Through Criticism”. My friend told me years ago that criticism is a way of life, and here Scott makes a compelling case for critical thinking. // Read (ebook): February


5.) WHAT IS CINEMA? (André Bazin)

I’ve got to be honest. I’ve dove to this another time because I felt insecure about my writing. I felt unequipped, uninspired, and unbothered. Coming into Bazin’s best primer to the world of cinema, I found, is a good antidote for self-doubt, especially for people like myself who write and think regularly about movies. // Reread (Kindle): March


6.) NOS4A2 (Joe Hill)

Read in preparation for the upcoming television series, starring Zachary Quinto. My relationship with Joe Hill got its good start with his “Locke & Key” graphic novels. I find that his wit, eloquence, and cruelty transpose quite beautifully in this story about a metaphysical vampire. // Read (TBP): March


7.) ENIGMA VARIATIONS (André Aciman)

I read this in two days (record time for me). It’s a chronicling of a grown man’s intimate affairs with men and women. Like in “Call Me By Your Name”, it’s easy to get lost in the elegance of Aciman’s prose here. // Read (TBP): April


8.) GOOD OMENS (Neil Gaiman)

Hands-down Neil Gaiman’s funniest book yet (and the author has many funny books). Sure, Terry Pratchett helps a lot here. If a balls-to-the-wall, completely bonkers take on apocalyptic fiction is anywhere near to be your cup of tea, you’ll like “Good Omens”. Read this in preparation for the upcoming television series, starring Michael Sheen. // Reread (TBP): April


Reading queue:

  • “The Last Tycoon” by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • “Salem’s Lot” by Stephen King
  • “Deep Work” by Cal Newport
  • “Orlando” by Virginia Woolf
  • “Lincoln in the Bardo” by George Saunders
  • “The Caprices” by Sabrina Murray
  • “Zone One” by Colson Whitehead
  • “Insurrecto” by Gina Apostol
  • “House of Leaves” by Mark Z. Danielewski
  • “Middlesex” by Jeffrey Eugenides
  • “How to Read a Film” by James Monaco
  • “The Assistants” by Camille Perri
  • “Death in Venice” by Thomas Mann
  • “The Outsider” by Stephen King
  • “A Little Life” by Hanya Yanagihara
  • “A Head Full of Ghosts” by Paul Tremblay