The Unthinkable

For over a decade now, I have set an annual goal of how many books I would read in a year. One of the things I internalized from my many mentors was that I should “Always Be Reading” (gratuitous Glengarry Glen Ross reference). So, each year I would set a target (usually 50 books), and I would meticulously record the title and author of each book I completed in a year (metrics, metrics, metrics).

Around May, I released myself from that goal.

It’s not that I’m not reading; I actually am reading as much—if not more—than ever.

But I feel like I’m reading differently.

For one, I’m actually re-reading a lot of books that I’ve read before. Some of these books—The Lord of the Rings trilogy, for example—I’m reading because they are near and dear to my heart, and I have desperately needed their inspiration, comfort, and challenge.

Others, I’m re-reading because I realized that there was something I missed the first time round. In this season of greater clarity, when my eyes, ears, and heart are more open than they ever have been, I have been drawn to words, thoughts and truths that are familiar to me, and as I read them, I feel like I’m seeing, hearing, and experiencing them again for the first time.

On top of that, I just don’t feel as compelled to “measure” every single aspect of my life right now. Am I on track to read 50 books this year? How about 75? Thirty?

What does it really matter?

What does matter—for me right now—is why I’m reading.

Sometimes I read for comfort; sometimes I read to embrace new thoughts; sometimes I read for beauty; sometimes I read to save my soul, just for today.

So, in December, don’t ask me how many books I read this year, because I won’t be able to tell you. But you can ask me how my heart is doing.