My aim is simple: to read 52 books between January 1 and December 31 each year. It’s not a particularly original one, as the Internet is heaving with reading challenges. It all started when, in 2006, I took part in the 50 Book Challenge community on what was then the world’s hottest social network, LiveJournal. The aim there was equally simple: to read 50 books, or whatever number happens to suit you, in the same period of time. This came after a difficult year (2005) in which I’d done virtually no reading at all and it was a great way of getting back into what had been one of my most absorbing preoccupations. In some years I will just scrape the 52-book limit and in others I will come out 20 books ahead of it.

My rules are pretty flexible. If I take two weeks to read a book then read two in a week, it still counts. I’m happy to include re-reads and novellas. I’m also including graphic novels; I think that, at their best, when written by people like Alan Moore and Neil Gaiman, these rank as true literature. However, I am hesitant to include the kind of comics that take about 40 minutes to get through as I don’t want to devalue the challenge and make it too hard the year after. I find there’s no quicker way than to fail to meet a target than to rush at it, build up a huge lead and then run out of steam. I don’t intend to rack my reading target up for next year since there’s nothing like setting yourself an impossible target to encourage failure.

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