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Why I’ve Resolved to Read FEWER Books in 2022

It’s time to put the paperback down and go to sleep.

By Lissa BayPublished 2 years ago 4 min read
Third Place in Sleep Resolution Challenge
Photo by Los Muertos Crew from Pexels

I don’t actually need to know who the killer is TONIGHT. Whether it turns out to be the meddling neighbor, the shy professor, or the uber-supportive best friend, it will still be that same person tomorrow—after I’ve had a good night’s rest.

Except, there’s only 50 pages left in this book. Or, okay, 57 pages if I’m being completely honest. And the suspense might keep me awake if I don’t find out tonight. Is it really that bad for me to keep reading for another 60 minutes or so? Then I can rest easy until the alarm clock goes off in... hold on, what? FIVE HOURS?!

No! Stop it! This can wait. What I need is to catch some Z’s. If I don’t put this book on my nightstand right now and nestle into bed, I’m going to regret it. I might not even like how the book ends. I might end up going to sleep angry about it.

It's not worth the risk. I need to read less.

My Read-Less Resolution

This nightly struggle is part of the reason why I’ve resolved to read FEWER books in 2022. It was my resolution for 2021 as well, and I was successful. I read about 40 fewer books last year than year before—"only" 78. This year, I want to bring it down to 52. One book per week.

It's not unusual for me to stay up ALL NIGHT reading. Every time I do this, I remember what I learned from Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams by Matthew Walker, a book I tried really hard not to read too late at night. According to the science, I’m damaging my health by not sleeping enough. Every time I stay up too late, it makes me less empathetic toward others, more forgetful, and less creative. I’m getting older quicker and increasing my chances of meeting an untimely death from a preventable accident.

All this harm just so I can experience the hero and heroine admitting their love for each other before bed! Let's be honest: I know full well the book will end with the couple reuniting. Yet I’m still that sucker going, “But how will they reunite? After what he said to her, it seems impossible! Certainly, I can put off sleep to find out.”

I did get more sleep in 2021 by reading "only" 78 books, but for 2022, a book a week feels reasonable. Fifty-two is a huge number of books. I consider anyone who reads even one book each month to be “well-read.” Reading 52 books in a year is a huge accomplishment, not a disappointment.

Sometimes I think that what keeps me plowing through is almost a book addiction.

Photo by Kampus Production from Pexels

Addicted to Books

These past few years, something that has always brought me immense joy has felt more like an obsession than a hobby, almost like (although in no way as serious or as harmful as) an addiction.

Here's how I know my book love has gotten out of control:

  • I rush through great books, excited for my next fix, when I should be savoring a book as amazing as the one I'm reading right now. Who knows if the next one will even be as good?
  • When I get a really strong hit from a book that knocks my socks off like The Secret History by Donna Tartt or War with the Newts by Karel Čapek, it dulls the impact of the next couple books I read. I should have sat with them for a while after I finished reading them—a week or more, perhaps—so that, after that, I could give other books a fair shake.
  • The dealers—my local librarians—know me and treat me extra-nice. "Ah, Lissa, we got some new stuff in you're going to love," they tell me. "Everyone's been asking for The School for Good Mothers by Jessamine Chan, but we saved you a copy because we know how important it is to you."
  • I want the good stuff: paper and ink, not an e-book. At least I don't have to worry about blue light from my phone making my sleep situation even worse, though!
  • I hate to say it, but a lot of the thrill from reading is gone. Maybe, in part, because I'm not getting enough sleep.

Can I Get the Thrill Back?

The worst part about reading so many books is that I don't even enjoy them as much as I used to. If I slept more, my brain would be more rested to take my time with each novel, reading slowly, noticing every striking image and interesting turn of phrase.

When I was younger, it never occurred to me that I "should be" reading more books more quickly. This concept came from the internet age, from Goodreads and Reddit challenges. I used to bring only one book with me when I went on vacation for a week, and that was plenty. Here's a picture of me as a teenager, chilling in a hammock on vacation, truly enjoying a great book (it's The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver).

my dad took this picture <3

I remember that book-loving young woman. She got a lot more sleep than I do. She was so happy and well-rested.

I will no longer sacrifice sleep to reading. My bed is lush and cozy. I've got a great new mattress and my pillow is the perfect firmness. When I actually put my book down, I fall asleep easily. If I slept enough, and took my time, I suspect my love of reading would return in full force.

That's why I will not be reading the last 57 pages of this book tonight. In fact, I'll stop when there's still 100 pages remaining. Because I'm taking my time, enjoying every moment that I still don't know who the killer is.

Heck, it might save my own life in the process.

Bad habits

About the Creator

Lissa Bay

Lissa is a writer and nanny who lives in Oakland, California. She enjoys books, books, playing Disney songs on ukulele for kiddos, books, and hanging out with her deeply world-weary dog, Willow. And, oh yeah, also—get this: books.

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