I sat down at the end of 2021 and decided one of my goals this year was to read at least 5 days a week.
I kinda, sorta, haven’t missed a single day in 336 days (Jan 8th, 2022), or a single week in 77 weeks (June 20, 2021).
In those 336 days, I have read 309 books.
Well, 309 according to Amazon Kindle Unlimited, 322 if you look at my quickly put together excel sheet to see how many pages I have read in the past 336 days.
I don’t know where the discrepancy is. I tried finding it, only to figure out that I did, in fact, read those 10 books, but that doesn’t account for the other 3.
Reading as an escape
Anyway, long story short, I am going with the official 309 as of the posting of this today.
And shit, I have learned a shit ton about the world, about myself, about authors, and about how most of the books I read, had the same plot – the main character has a problem, falls in love sometimes with multiple partners because why choose, rescues herself, saves the world, lives happily ever after – but none of the books I read felt the same.
I never expected to read 309 books. That wasn’t even my goal. My goal was to read at least 5 days a week.
The last time I read more than a textbook for school was back in middle school/high school nearly 20 years ago. And even then, I maybe read like 50 books a year. Nothing like this. This has become an obsession this year.
I had a fairly healthy reading habit until about April. And then I hit a fog and a depression that drowned me. So, I turned to reading book after book, escaping to new world after new world.
I spent the last 6 months ashamed and embarrassed for having read so many books while not doing the things I was supposed to do.
It wasn’t until Thanksgiving break that I finally broke through that fog and started swimming to shore.
And that is why I needed to write down all the things I have learned in the past 336 days so that you, too, can know what to expect when you fall down the rabbit hole as I did. You may not read to escape your life, but there are some things to look forward to when you do escape.
27 Things I Have Learned From Reading 309 Books In 336 days
In full transparency, I read MOSTLY reverse harem books, spicy books, bully books, and enemy-to-lovers books. Most with a high degree of smut, and I have ZERO regrets, and ZERO shame.
- They all have the same (or similar) plot and roadmap, yet I get lost in every book like it’s a brand-new world – because it is. Different characters, different problems different situations.
- Series are better than standalones. I said what I said.
- I could read 24 hours straight if someone would bring me food and take over all of my responsibilities, like parenting and house cleaning. Oh, and if someone could sleep for me.
- Every single series could have been written in one book if the characters had open and honest communication, but then it wouldn’t really be a story, would it? It’d be boring, short, and so less aggravating.
- Don’t do it. I mean, you do you boo-boo, but you will understand what I mean when you get to #22. I will never do this again, and I wouldn’t trade my 309 books for anything, but it takes a toll.
- 120,360 pages (+/- a few hundred for those books I may or may not have read that were on my excel sheet)
- The slower you read, the more you digest and remember. True story. The faster you read, the harder it will be for you to remember which character goes to which book AND you will start merging worlds together, which might be an interesting fan fiction story in and of itself…
- Never join an author fan club or your To Be Read (TBR) list will never stop growing. Never. It’s a blessing for when you don’t know what to read next, and a curse when you already have the 20 allowed kindle unlimited books you already downloaded to get through.
- There’s always a best friend who grounds the main character. And oftentimes, their stories are just as good. And you will wish they were your best friend.
- I enjoy books where most chapters have a little cliffhanger or surprise and then one giant epic cliffhanger or surprise at the end. The sisters, Caroline Peckham, and Susanne Valenti are EXPERTS at this.
- No matter how many times I have read the same plot, and no matter how many times the main character and their posse might die….they never die. And yet, when the possibility is broached in the next book world I am sucked into, I still get a little panicky and then am refreshingly relieved. Every. Damn. Time. I am just waiting for the other shoe to drop and for one of my fave main characters to die, but that won’t happen. I just jinxed myself, didn’t I?
- I really want to read stories from the kids’ perspective of some of these characters that I have fallen in love with. Like, their parents fought hard to change their lives and their futures. What do these kids have to battle? It can’t all be rainbows and unicorns, or are they just now living, boring, everyday, normal, ordinary lives like the rest of us mere mortals?
- There is a point where there is too much smut. I know, I know. I can’t believe I am saying it either. But hey, all that smut translates into a better sex life in real life. Iykyk.
- I don’t know the magic chapter or number of pages needed, but I do know that there is such a thing as not enough character development, world-building, or problem-building at the beginning of a story. And I’m not necessarily talking about backstory, just build-up.
- For the love of all that is sacred, WRITE DOWN THE AUTHOR OF YOUR FAVORITE QUOTE!!!! By the way, in case you were wondering because I did not just spend hours going through every book I have read in the past 3 months for nothing: It’s Tracy Lorraine, The Secrets You Keep, “Be wild watching the sunrise”.
- You will fall in love with another character, I promise.
- It’s OK to take breaks. In fact, it’s encouraged. But you will ignore this advice and will be all like “that crazy person was right, breaks are possible (note: not that they’re good) when you finally realize, at the same time, that your eyes need a break and you need to pee.
- But, if you are stuck in a small room, waiting for your doctor for 57 minutes, then, by all means, read. Finish that book. You literally have zero distractions to keep you from reading. But maybe around minute 20 (ahem instead of minute 48), you should peek your head out to make sure they didn’t forget about you. Or not. You do you boo-boo.
- If you are a writer, reading a shit ton of books does actually help better your writing. I know that’s what the experts say, but to actually see it in action is mind-blowing. I get new insight on how to be a better writer with every book I read. I also learn the things I DON’T want to do in my writing. With that being said, the “experts” say to read a hundred books in YOUR genre if you are an author, and I say fuck that. Read what you love.
- If you don’t read while walking, you won’t run into anything. Just sayin’
- You will find authors and fan clubs that you will fall in love with, where you will fit in, and where you will get the source of your sanity to make it a whole year before the final book comes out in a series that had such a bad cliffhanger, everyone cried, but because you read that book a freaking year ago, you have watched as every new fan falls and cries at the end of book number 7, and you will watch as people finally read book 7 bc they put it off as long as possible because they were scared from everyone crying, and then with less than 5 days left, you are watching new readers panic bc they have put off reading book 7 for a whole freaking year bc people said the cliffhanger nearly killed them, and now you are sitting here writing #21 bc this book series is what got you here, 309 books later, and you are beginning to panic because WHAT THE FUCK COMES NEXT?
- You can lose yourself. Not like, in a new world, but you can lose your real life in a new world. You can get sucked in so far, that you will wonder where the moon went because everything outside of reading just disappears. I might be a book addict. So, tread carefully when you lose yourself in a new world.
- This is related to number 21, but if I learned nothing else in this adventure I didn’t mean to turn into an adventure of reading a million books in less than a year, I learned how important it is to double and triple check to make sure a series is done or I will not start it until a week or a few days before the final book in the series releases. I have lucked out so far and have only had like 10 or so of my series be a long time between the current and last book.
- You will fall in love with another character or set of characters. Yes, this is similar to #16, but it’s super duper true. I get attached to characters. So, if I need the extra reminder, so does someone else.
- Figuring out how many pages you read is a bitch. There should be an app that will export your Amazon Kindle Unlimited list, or maybe the KU app should do it itself since it tracks everything else. While they are at it, I’d love to know how much time I have spent reading in total AND for each book. Maybe they can take code pointers from Spotify. There’s an app, isn’t there?
- Hindsight is always 20/20 because I wasted a great opportunity to do some book reviews. I no longer have the spoons to add in reviews this year. I will have to think about it next year. When I slow down my reading.
- You will take a piece of each character with you. You will find a piece of yourself in every character. And you will become the person you want to be by reading about characters who have fought to become the person they want to be.
I am sure there are other things I have learned over these past 336 days, but these 27 points pretty much cover it.
BONUS #1: You will find your favorite authors. Some of mine include Caroline Peckham, Susanne Valenti, Angel Lawson, Britt Andrews, C.M. Stunich, Eva Ashwood, Ivy Fox, J. Bree, J.T. Geissinger, Jaymin Eve, Tracy Lorraine, Sheridan Anne, Tate James, and so many more.
If you are curious about the books I read this year, here is a link to my very crude and basic 2022 Books Read excel sheet.
Finding Anchors in Books
Reading opens minds, stretches imaginations, pushes boundaries, and forces new perspectives.
And, probably most importantly, reading is inspiring. Whether it’s reverse harem books or autobiographies of the most famous person to have ever existed. As readers, we get to learn something new about the world AND about ourselves in the process.
For me, I read because each story is another anchor in my life. Another anchor to keep me going when my darkness starts to creep in.
And that’s because of how I read.
When I read, whether I am reading a story or writing a story, I can visualize the world being created as each word passes. A drive-in movie theater fills my mind. Each word smells like buttery popcorn and my inner me surges to life as each emotion holds me captive.
For me, when I read, it’s not just the words on the pages that I digest, it’s the world I bring to life in my mind.
With that being said, I rarely (aka never) read a book more than once. I also rarely see a show or movie more than once. If I do, I barely pay attention to it.
Because, for me, every book is new and fun the first time around. I have already built the world in my head. I don’t need to go back and find any minute details that I may or may not have picked up the first time around. The story is already a part of me.
With that being said, all readers are unique. How I read is not right or wrong. How you read is not right or wrong. If it works for you, you do you boo-boo.
Now, my question to all of you: If you are a reader, what have you learned? What have you learned by reading that has an impact on your life? Whether you are a once-in-a-while reader, an avid-read-all-the-things reader, or anywhere in between, I want to hear from you!
In the meantime, Adventure on with curiosity,
~Kelly “Beast” Steele
P.S. My first novel is now on Amazon for pre-orders! It will be officially live and published on Dec. 31st, 2022. I poured my heart and soul into this book, so if you have nothing nice to say – shut it. But, it’s a creative take on my life with a punch of fantasy and fiction. Check it out on Amazon.