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52 Books in 52 Weeks


What I learned from reading/listending to 1 book per week.

The greatest accomplishment I felt at the end of the year was completing my goal of reading and listening to an average of 1 book per week, or 52 books in 52 weeks. I got the idea from a friend to accomplished this task in 2020. Generally, I have set goals to read 1 book per month and I often don't hit that goal. So this was a big, hairy, audacious goal for me! But, I really wanted to do it.

How I tracked my books

After setting this goal, I created a spreadsheet on Google Sheets. I listed a number of books that I wanted to read throughought the year. The great thing about having this goals was that I didn't feel like I had to be picky. Instead it was more of a matter of trying to find books to add! All those audiobooks that I have purchased with credits on Audible and haven't taken the time to listen to, I could now add to my list.

The spreadsheet was pretty simple. I had the following columns for each book:

  • Title
  • Author
  • ISBN
  • My Rating
  • Binding (Audiobook, Hard copy, Kindle)
  • Total Minutes (audiobook)
  • Pages (hard copy or kindle)
  • Date Added
  • Date Read

Some of the fields I added so I could export this list and import it into Goodreads.

This also helped me keep a stats tab to show how I was progressing on my goal. I had an over/under number how many books I was ahead or behind my goal based on the current week. The was calculated based on the date read column.

Audiobooks

Throughout this post, I may say that I "read" a book, when I actually listened to it. Please just go along with it! 🤓

I am not much of a reader. I don't enjoy reading and I get tired quickly when I start reading. So, I figured the only way I would accomplish this goal was to use audiobooks. Of course, not all books I wanted to read had an audiobook available for it. In that situation, I either read the book, or I created an audiobook to listen to!

I found that I could export Kindle books to basic text files. I created a script that could then use text-to-speech to generate audio that I could compile into an audiobook. Here is a blog post describing how I did that.

I should mention that I updated the script to use Amazon Polly or Google Text-to-speech API to get better text-to-speech output than the Mac say command provides. You can use these API to convert up to 10K words per month for free I believe.

Search my blog for Audiobooks to see more posts about audiobooks, using Plex, and other topics I may add in the futre on the subject.

A few peoople have asked how I find the time to read so many books. Again, the answer would have to be Audiobooks. I am busy and I don't think I would make the time to read this much. The beauty of audiobooks is that I can often multi-task. There are certain activities that don't require a lot of thinking that allow me to listen to books and stay focused while also doing that task at hand. The most common activies where I find I listen to audiobooks are:

  • Driving
  • Cleaning the house
  • Doing yardwork
  • Exercising (lifting weights, treadmill, bike)

Staying focused

The spreadsheet was really the best tool I had in stying focuses and motivated. I used the Tab Snooze extension to open this spreadsheet on weekly basis to make sure I didn't forget to keep it updated. But, generally when I finished a book, I was quick to update the spreadsheet to see my goal progress.

Books I Completed

  • Atomic Habits by James Clear (5 hours 39 minutes)
  • The Gifts of Imperfect Parenting by Brene Brown (2 hours 6 minutes)
  • Lectures on Faith by Joseph Smith (2 hours 27 minutes)
  • The Power of Stillness by Jacob Z. Hess (7 hours 45 minutes)
  • The End from the Beginning by Avraham Gileadi (4 hours 5 minutes)
  • The Holy Invitation by Anthony Sweat (1 hour 41 minutes)
  • Your Money or Your Life by Vicki Robin (2 hours 25 minutes)
  • The Case for Keto by Gary Taubes (8 hours 59 minutes)
  • As a Man Thinketh by James Allen (0 hours 55 minutes)
  • Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum by John Taylor Gatto (3 hours 19 minutes)
  • Becoming Kings and Queens of the Gentiles by Avraham Gileadi (2 hours 55 minutes)
  • Understanding Your Endowment by Cory B. Jensen (5 hours 38 minutes)
  • Prayers That Matter by Robert Millet (1 hour 1 minute)
  • The 4-Hour Body by Timothy Ferris (3 hours 51 minutes)
  • Tiny Habits by BJ Fogg (11 hour 22 minutes)
  • Joseph Smith's Seer Stones by Nicholas J. Frederick and Michael Hubbard MacKay (256 pages)
  • Considering the Cross by Jake Hilton (6 hours 10 minutes)
  • Revelations in Context by The Church (10 hours 21 minutes)
  • He Chose the Nails by Max Lucado (3 hours 35 minutes)
  • Jesus the Christ by James E. Talmage (22 hours 42 minutes)
  • Whatever Happened to Faith? by Robert L. Millet (5 hours 46 minutes)
  • Wanta! Black Swan, White Hat by Lee E. Wanta (13 hours 44 minutes)
  • Odds Are You're Going to Be Exalted by Alonzo L. Gaskill (2 hours 53 minutes)
  • One by One by David A. Bednar (4 hours 7 minutes)
  • The Creature from Jekyll Island by G. Edward Griffin (24 hours 21 minutes)
  • Be Not Troubled by Ronald A. Rasband (2 hours 19 minutes)
  • The Heavens Are Open by Wendy Watson Nelson (2 hours 57 minutes)
  • Prophecy and Modern Times by Cleon Skousen (2 hours 58 minutes)
  • Anxious for Nothing by Max Lucado (3 hours 34 minutes)
  • Traffic Secrets by Russell Brunson (6 hours 58 minutes)
  • The Heavenly Man by Brother Yun (9 hours 52 minutes)
  • The Divided Mind by John E. Sarno (6 hours 19 minutes)
  • Make Your Bed by William H. McRaven (1 hour 53 minutes)
  • 10% Happier by Dan Harris (7 hours 50 minutes)
  • You Need a Budget by Jesse Mecham (4 hours 54 minutes)
  • The Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale (3 hours 46 minutes)
  • The Phoenix Project by Gene Kim, Kevin Behr, George Spafford (14 hours 46 minutes)
  • The Fearless Mind by Craig L. Manning (3 hours 47 minutes)
  • Smart Money Smart Kids by Dave Ramsey, Rachel Cruze (7 hours 19 minutes)
  • Book of Mormon by The Church (28 hours 19 minutes)
  • Learn to Read Hebrew in 4 Weeks! by Orit Kamara (361 pages)
  • Book of Mormon by The Church (28 hours 19 minutes)
  • The Case Against Sugar by Gary Taubes (11 hour 33 minutes)
  • The Pilgrim Hypothesis by Timothy Ballard (6 hours 31 minutes)
  • Tragedy and Truth: What Happened at Hawn's Mill by History of the Saints (4 hours 31 minutes)
  • It's Not About You by Tom Rath (0 hours 54 minutes)
  • The Washington Hypothesis by Timothy Ballard (7 hours 39 minutes)
  • Doctrine & Covenants by The Church (14 hours 34 minutes)
  • The ONE Thing by Gary Keller (5 hours 28 minutes)
  • Moroni's Guide to Surviving Turbulent Times by John Bytheway (160 pages)
  • The Lincoln Hypothesis by Timothy Ballard (7 hours 44 minutes)
  • Beyond the Shade of the Mango Tree by Edward Dube (4 hours 57 minutes)

Stats

In 2021 I listed to 357 hours and 28 minutes worth of audiobooks! Granted, I often listen around 1.5 speed so it probably took more like 238 hours. But still, 238 hours! If you listed 8 hours per day to audiobooks, that would take 30 days.

I read three books with a total of 777 pages. (Jackpot).

This is not 100% accurate because there were a few of books that sometimes I read and sometimes I listed, or, I started reading then converted the book to an auiobook and finished by listening.

Highlights

After I completed my 52nd book near the end of December, I posted my list of books that I read on Facebook. The question I got asked the most was "What books stood out the most" or "What are your top 5" or something similar. I think most people look at the list as overwhelming and wanted to find a good read or two to add to their list.

Because I have pretty diverse list of books, I found the question kind of hard to answer. So here is my long winded answer...

Favorite Book

There was one book on the list that I read twice. So I guess technically, I only read 51 books in 2021. That book was The Book of Mormon. This is my favorite book and I read it every day. So, it will be on my list every year and probably will be read multiple times in a year. So if you have not read this book, this would be the #1 book I recommend.

Most Moving

Around Easter I read a few books focusd on Jesus Christ. They were:

  • Considering the Cross by Jake Hilton (6 hours 10 minutes)
  • He Chose the Nails by Max Lucado (3 hours 35 minutes)
  • Jesus the Christ by James E. Talmage (22 hours 42 minutes)

I had tried to read Jesus the Christ a couple of times when I was younger but I never made it very far. Listening to the book was just what I needed. I could not get enough of Chist. Yes, I have heard stories of Christ all my life. But, during this time I was like a sponge. I just wanted more and more. It is hard to really describe how these books affected me, but it was a spiritually moving time of year for me.

Most Surprising

The book that I was surprised that I liked so much was Tiny Habits by BJ Fogg. I have read a few books about Habits such as Atomic Habits (which was I read a second time in 2021), Habit Factor, Mini Habits. etc. I have heard the other books quote BJ Fogg. I just didn't think there would be much new information in this book. While reading the book, I wrote down a quote on a sticky note and it is still posted on my monitor as I type this. The quote is: "I change best by feeling GOOD, not by feeling bad." There were some really great nuggets in this book and I will likely add it to my 2022 reading list.

Most Impactful

I love Tim Ballard. I love what he is doing with Operation Underground Railroad. I am familiar with his story and the individuals in Haiti that led him to start O.U.R. because my father-in-law spent a lot of time in Haiti building an orphanage for him.

I didn't realize that Tim was also a great author. He has three books that really pulled me in and helped me see America in a greater light - the light of covenant Israel.

I read three books in the following order:

  • The Pilgrim Hypothesis by Timothy Ballard (6 hours 31 minutes)
  • The Washington Hypothesis by Timothy Ballard (7 hours 39 minutes)
  • The Lincoln Hypothesis by Timothy Ballard (7 hours 44 minutes)

I beleve he wrote them in the reverse order, but I think reading them in chronological order like this was helpful. I have a greater respect for the pilgrims and Washington and Lincoln. I wish every American would read these books. Sadly, I think many in this country today would not have any interest and not even agree with them. But I found a lot of truth and light in these books.

Also, I later learned on Relative Finder that I am a direct descendent of some famous pilgrims. Willam and Mary Brewster are my 12th great grandparents. William Bradford is my 11th great grandfather. I learned on Relative Finder that I am tied to a lot of poeople I now have greater love and respect for. But the names listed above were direct ancestors.

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Dustin Davis

Dustin Davis is a software engineer, people manager, hacker, and entreprenuer. He loves to develop systems and automation. He lives with his wife and five kids in Utah.

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