One of the key elements in the SMART acronym for goal setting is M, which is MEASURABLE. I believe that the best way to live life is to account for how you spend it. I spend time writing a lot in my journals and diaries – how much exercise I do, how much time I spend on social media etc. However, the most important record taking is the number of books I read in a year. My biggest aid in tracking this lifestyle habit is the Goodreads app/website.
When 2019 ended, Goodreads sent me mail detailing my reading exploits for the year. It is a yearly thing for them. It is morale rousing to see how much one covered in 12 months. This is one of the many things that has made Goodreads the best reading app/website in the world for a healthy reading habit. This isn’t a puff piece for Goodreads as there are many book trackers out there online and offline but it’s nice recommending one that has served me well.

Users of the app start the year setting a target for the number of books they would like to read in the course of the year. I set 60 books and I hit this target. I actually read more than this. There are a couple of books I started reading but I didn’t finish for one reason or the other. I have a 50-page rule. If after 50 pages the book doesn’t suck me in, I move on to the next, there are many books to read in this life so one has to be lethal in moving on.
I have been using the site for close to a decade now. When I started, I had a target of 150 books a year, I stepped it down to 100 books a year and for the last two years, I am currently doing 60 books a year. This means with work and family obligations, I read an average of a book a week and I ensure that I consume more books during the holidays or vacations to make up the balance.
Reading is a habit that has encoded itself in my DNA. It wasn’t like this in my early years. I had a problem sitting still for up to a minute. Reading was the first thing that instilled stillness in me. It is amazing how it has become an elixir for my mental and intellectual life that I can’t do without reading a day.

Reading is good for managing stress, because when you read you slow down the pace of your life and the number of heartbeats per minute, just like we do with meditation and mindfulness. Reading is one of the therapies we need in this fast-paced world where burnout, stroke, and heart diseases have become fairly common and strike many households.
It is a pity this habit has become overlooked and even scorned at by millennials who have become addicted to social media. This isn’t PR for Goodreads but I usually say if you want to quickly install or get back your reading habit, Goodreads is a great place to start.

You have the ability to search out any book and read the reviews and see the ratings. This helps you in choosing a book that is relevant to you and a book people have vetted already for you. You have the ability to see what your friends are reading and this can aid you in your next choice. With Goodreads you can set a target and seeing this target regularly can keep you on track in terms of discipline. It is stocktaking the digital way.

I had a great year in books. These are some of my personal fun facts sent by Goodreads. I read 16, 696 pages across 60 books. The shortest book read was 122 pages and the longest was 842 pages. The average length was 278 pages. The average rating I gave books was 4.1/5.

It is the start of a new year and as usual, we make resolutions. But most of the resolutions fail because we don’t understand the habit loop. The four stages of a habit are: cue, craving, response, and reward. Some people describe it as the: I see it, I like it, I want it and I got it to loop. Goodreads is a solid cue that keeps your reading habit raging.

And yes, welcome to my first piece for 2020 on The Bagus NG, Africa’s foremost literary hub.