In which I finish my 18th book for the year and look at the transformative power of reading.

What I’ve Read This Year

1535 words about review — 07:00 · 16th Dec 2018

“Dad, that’s not how you say it,” he chuckles at my attempt at pronouncing J.K. Rowling’s dog latin.

“But it’s really hard, AH-per-CHI-cum. Shit.”

Rolling in laughter he explains, “No that’s not right, it’s, AH-par-EE-see-um .”

We’re reading Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and whilst I can do some pretty decent Hagrid and Dumbledore impressions—if you assume the former is from Somerset and the latter has been reduced to a generic old man,—I’m still struggling to bring Ron to life.

And I can’t pronounce, “Aparecium,” or any other multisyllabic spell.

I loved reading as a young boy and sustained many of my formative years on a diet of horror and Nordic noir.

From authors such as Stephen King and Henning Mankell, I always preferred fiction to non-fiction.

I remember spending my early teens at the local library, browsing the aisles for titles or authors to pop out and scream, “Read me.” and indiscriminately feasting on the ones that did.

Every Christmas and birthday I would get a new book to read and I could gorge on an entire crime novel in an afternoon sitting.

Carlos Eriksson as a Disney character, reading books.
Like Belle in Beauty and the Beast but with less Stockholm Syndrome.

Which by all accounts was a good thing.

According to studies at the University of Sussex, University of Toronto Harvard and Yale University, reading books has many health benefits.

6 benefits of reading

  1. Reduces stress
  2. May add a couple of years to your life
  3. Improves your language skills and knowledge of the world
  4. Enhances empathy
  5. Boosts creativity and flexibility
  6. Can help transform you as a person

But despite all these benefits, something changed.

Because then I don’t remember reading anything at all.

My mind had been starved for over a decade, when I, back in January, set myself a goal of reading four books this year.

One for the body, one for the soul and one for the mind. And a fiction book to finish it off, that was my goal.

“I can do four books,” I thought, setting what was an unusually realistic goal for Carlos.

One glance at a book and you hear the voice of another person, perhaps someone dead for 1,000 years. To read is to voyage through time. Carl Sagan

By March, I had finished my fourth book.

Reading is amazing.

Reading is travelling to far-away worlds or walking in someone else’s shoes for a lifetime.

Reading is being able to absorb the condensed and cumulative knowledge of an expert in any subject.

Imagine picking a subject and reading the top 3 books about it. You would know more about that subject than most other people.

My malnourished mind was ravenous and rumbling for more.

Books I’ve read in 2018

I’m now reading 2-3 books per month and spend about an hour every weekday reading.

But my goal isn’t to read as many books as I can.

Instead, I want to absorb their knowledge and have it affect my life in a positive way.

If you believe books should be kept as pristine as possible, you should probably skip the next sentence.

To keep track of thoughts and ideas I fold down the bottom corner of any pages that resonate with me so that I can return to them after I’ve finished it to take notes and annotations.

This way I can refer back to everything in one place.

Of course I’m not the only one who takes notes.

Though I might go to hell for “dog-earing” pages, the verdict is still out on that one.

In the meantime, I intend to continue reading with ravenous hunger in the next year and maybe along the way, my Ron impression will get better.

Though let’s be honest, it probably won’t.

If nothing else, maybe my laughable impressions will help inspire a lasting joy of reading for Lucien as well.

One that, unlike me, he hopefully won’t forget.

You’ve just read What I’ve Read This Year.

In which, 3 years ago, I wrote 1535 words about review and I covered topics, such as: reading, and books.