Last year, I embarked on a year-long goal to read 120 books and share that list with people. Why? Because I knew I read a lot in 2019, but couldn’t remember what. After 365 days of reading in 2020 and finishing 121 books, I want to share four lessons I learned during this time.

1. How I got my books and read them was drastically altered in April.

I love physical books. Because they can be an expensive habit (in both money and physical space), I use my local library. My wife and I would weekly reserve books and then pick them up at the mall. We would walk a few laps, look at the puppies in the pet store windows, collect our bounty, and go home.

When the library closed in the first shutdown of 2020, I moved to their online system, which allowed me to download books in Kindle format. Because of that option, 78 of the 121 books read were digital.

Before this goal, I was a physical book snob. Forcing myself to read ebooks helped me to see their value:

  • Quickly highlighting passages without the time and effort of writing quotes out by hand
  • In-app definitions and Wikipedia searches for words, concepts, people, and subject unknown to me
  • Immediate access (most of the time)
  • Reading insights to keep me accountable to my goal

2. Some books are infinitely better in physical form.

Graphic novels, art books, and well-designed business workbooks look awful in small digital formats. Print can still be evocative and downright gorgeous.

3. I became more willing to quit reading a book if it was boring.

Most ebooks from the library had a three-week due date. On top of that, I found it difficult to renew the ebooks. That gave me the freedom to quit books that didn’t sustain my attention. I abandoned 19 books throughout the year.

What’s fascinating is that I have a lot more patience with a physical book. One of the last books I finished, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values by Robert M. Pirsig, took me almost the whole year to read. Because I had the physical copy, I could fall in and out and back in love with it.

Some books are challenging and demand time and attention.

4. There’s always time to read.

During the summer—I think it was in August—my dad came over to help me with some yard work. We often talk about what we are reading. I mentioned that I had read 17 books in July. His immediate response was, “When did you find time to work?”

For me, there is always time to read. I usually spend one to two hours reading in the morning with a cup of coffee and a notebook. I like to end my day with another hour of reading in bed.

In 2021, I will be sharing my reading list again, but this time I’m not setting a quantity goal. If there is a goal, it’s to spend time every day in the pure enjoyment of reading. That’s good enough for me.

Do you read for enjoyment, education, enlightenment, or entertainment? What are you going to read this year? Do you have a reading goal for the year?