366 Days, 366 Books: How Jeff Ryan Read One Book Per Day in 2012

booksJeff Ryan, like a lot of professional writers, spends a lot of time reading. He made a demanding resolution for last year: to read an average of one book per day. Since 2012 was a leap year, that meant 366 books. Ryan was appareantly successful--and not by reading only very short books. Here's how:

No, my prime directive was: no min-maxing. In Dungeons and Dragons, “min-maxing” is focusing on one character attribute to the exclusion of everything else. (Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory is an excellent example of someone who min-maxes intelligence, stealing points from charisma and dexterity.) If you’ve ever been in a team sport, school play, or med school, you know how that commitment supersedes all others. Parties are missed, sleep is skipped, emails go unreturned. “I can’t—I have practice/rehearsal/a corpse to dissect.” [...]

But for every period behind the eight ball, I had weeks when I was days or even weeks ahead of schedule. A slack day at work, an hour doing yard work with the iPod, a solo plane ride or overnight stay—these were my moments, and I seized them. Believe it or not, I grew so far ahead of my pace that I successfully read all 1,016 pages of George R.R. Martin’s A Dance With Dragons. It took me three full weeks, but I slew that Dragon.

I did have to give up some things. I listened to audiobooks exclusively—no music for me. I gave up video games, which wasn’t as big a deal for me as I expected it would be. Mainly, though, I decided that Starship Troopers 2, Lost Boys 3, and Saws V-VII weren’t worth the midnight oil I was expending on them. Yes, you, too, can read a book a day, just by giving up direct-to-DVD horror films!

Here's his reading list. Read more about Ryan's methods at the link.

Link | Photo: katerha

My favorite read of 2012 was the memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant. What was your favorite book to read last year?


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I agree with you. I wouldn't include audio books on a list like this. For one thing, it's too easy to do many other things and not even hear the book. I only listen to audio books when I don't care if I don't get every bit. On the other hand, I guess if you're 'reading' a book a day, you're hardly taking it all in anyway. I still do not consider listening to an audio book 'reading'.
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How do you read a book by listening to it? That's quite the opposite thing. You could stretch it a little further and say you read The Lord of the Rings by watching the movies.
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I liked it because it did a couple of things well. It described with some detail some of the naval engagements from the war of 1812, and even though I don't know nautical terminology, I found it good story-telling. Secondly, it sets the political context well for the development of the American navy - the challenges of funding it, even the challenges of persuading congress, and some presidents, that having a standing navy was a good idea. Thirdly, it does present some perspective from the British side of things regarding the War of 1812, something lacking in much of the reading I had done previously.

The only downside for me was my own personal shortcoming - lacking vocabulary to really understand some of the more technical descriptions of the battles. However, I don't think the author was overly technical, and it didn't really interfere when he was was narrative mode.
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According to the Google Docs link, he didn't read a book on 12/31, so he only got up to 365 books.

I read all the books in the Harry Potter series and Hunger Games trilogy and enjoyed all of them.
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Also, I commend Jeff on successfully reading a book every day. Back in middle school, when I didn't have anything to be concerned about, I used to read a book a day. I'd check out 7 books every Monday. I did this consistently for about half a year. It was awesome.
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