I usually like to wait some time before starting a 30-day challenge, or have it naturally happen (such as when I start a new habit, and then I decide I want to try it for 30 days to see what happens). The reason is because I want to make sure I set up a system for success. I don’t want to start prematurely only to fail halfway in.

Last night though, I got ahead of myself for my November 30-day challenge to read 20 pages of a book per day. It was time to wash my hair, and I thought I could air-dry it faster if I took a shower earlier in the evening. Usually before taking a shower, I play games on my phone just to keep myself occupied for an hour or so. But since I didn’t do that, I only had a few activities to engage it after the shower, such as clipping my nails, cleaning and folding laundry, and journaling. It didn’t take me long. I thought about playing games on my phone, but it just didn’t appeal to me. There wasn’t anything interesting to watch on TV. I thought about maybe watching Running Man, but wasn’t sure if that would keep my mind too active. So, I ended up borrowing my mom’s Kindle Fire and started reading some books in my library.

It was easier than I thought. I guess the text I was reading was not particularly difficult either, so that helped. There was also this neat feature where it tells you how many minutes you have left for finishing the chapter you are on based on your reading speed. So when I looked at that, I’d think, “Oh, only 20 minutes? Sure, I can read that long.” I didn’t have to read 20 pages since it technically wasn’t my first day. However, I ended up reading 37 pages in total. It took me around 65 minutes. It could be 5 minutes more or less, because I forgot to look at the time exactly when I started. Maybe next time, I’ll set a timer.

Since I hear voices, I was a little worried that the voice would act up. But, it was fine. It didn’t really bother me while I was reading. Instead, I was distracted by random thoughts while reading. So sometimes, I would have to go back and re-read the text.

I think I will read again tonight because it was so relaxing. I will also check out another book from my public library just in case I want to switch books. The current book I’m reading seems okay so far. Some parts I thought were a little uninteresting, but then later realized as I continued reading that she was trying to emphasize certain points.

In future posts about my reading challenge, I might mention the names of the books if I sign up for an affiliate program such as Amazon’s again. I didn’t want to mention any names without knowing how good it is. I can recommend a book if I find it valuable or helpful in some way, even without getting a commission. Though, it would be nice to also get something in return if someone ends up buying the book because I recommended it.

There might be some difference between reading a paperback and reading on a Kindle. I thought reading a paperback would be easier, but I think reading last night on the Kindle proved to be more convenient. Maybe it’s because of the added feature of the reading time estimator. Maybe it’s because I’m used to reading on screens. Maybe it’s because with a paperback, you need to have good lighting. Maybe it’s just the content of the book. I’m not really sure.

I was most surprised by how long I ended up reading. One factor that helped was my curiosity about what I was reading. I also didn’t have anything else that I particularly wanted to do. I felt like this was the most productive use of my time.

Some people would set aside time to read in the early mornings, but for me, it seems like a good way to wind down in the evenings. I would say last year this time, it was hard for me to concentrate on reading paperback books. The voice would talk out loud with my mouth while I was trying to read. I thought maybe it was because of the content of the book was related to hearing voices, but I’ve learned over time that the voice I hear doesn’t need to have any particular reason to do something. And I also remember when I first heard voices, I didn’t have trouble reading books. So, I would try reading every once in a while. Some days, I struggled. Other days felt better.

I thought about listening to ambient music while reading. But these days, I’m trying to focus on one task at a time. I want to make sure that I can do simple tasks without having to distract myself too much just so I don’t hear voices. In the past, I would have listened to podcasts while going for a walk for example. It’s kind of like how people listen to music or audiobooks while exercising at the gym. But these days, I just focus on the walk without any other external stimuli. I want the same to happen when I’m reading. I want to be able to focus on extracting the ideas on the page without relying on something else. I have to see how the following days go, though. Yesterday, I rated my difficulty of reading as a 2/5 (1 being easy, 5 being hard), because I could mostly focus on reading, I wasn’t distracted by hearing voices, though I was a little distracted with random thoughts. If I ever reach a 4 or a 5, I’ll consider using music as a way to help me focus.

Normally, I wouldn’t recommend starting a 30-day challenge early. I would say focus on creating a system to succeed. Figure out the exact parameters you’re going to use to determine if you failed or succeeded each day. Create a support system. Produce a helpful environment. Gather the necessary tools and resources. Set up a way to track your progress.

However in my case, I pretty much set up everything. The only thing I wasn’t sure about was whether 20 pages was too much for me since I haven’t been reading consistently. So, I considered yesterday to be a sort of test day. It ended up so much better than I thought. I will try it again tonight. If it goes well, I’ll consider yesterday to be my first official day of the 30-day trial. Though, I might continue for longer.

In case anyone else wants to join me in this challenge, I will share with you what I’m tracking each day. I have a spreadsheet with the dates on the left-hand side. Then on the top, there are columns for number of pages, minutes spent reading, minutes per page (which is a formula I’ve inputted of the minutes spent reading divided by the number of pages), the book/s I read that day, where I was when I was reading, difficulty (factors include how well I could focus, level of understanding, and level of distractions), and my mood prior to and while reading. I’m most curious about how reading might affect my mood on days when I’m not feeling particularly good. You might be curious about other aspects, so of course, track whatever you’re interested in.

It’s been a year or so since I’ve read an entire book, front to back. Sometimes, I get bored a quarter of the way through and leave the book on the shelf with the bookmark dangling. To be honest, I haven’t really been buying books or checking them out from the library for years. If I’ve read any books in the past three years, it’s because these are books that are already in my house.

The last book I finished was just because I would read a few pages every night before going to sleep. It was a way to keep my mind occupied (and off the voices I hear). Also, it was about hearing voices, so I thought maybe I would get some benefit out of it. Before that, the last book I finished was in 2018. So basically, at the rate I’ve been going for the past few years, I finish one book per year.

Recently, I came to realize that the Free Library (Philadelphia’s public library) offers eBooks and audiobooks for even some newly released books. So instead of worrying about wasting a few dollars on a book that I might not even finish, I tried searching for books I thought about reading but never came around to. I was curious about Michelle Obama’s Becoming. It ended up being available through the Free Library’s website. I just logged in with my library card number and PIN, searched for “Michelle Obama” under “Author” through their catalog while checking off eBook and audiobook, and I saw a few hundred eBook copies being available. The audiobook was checked out, so I just checked out the eBook. They give you options for how to view the book. So if you don’t have a Kindle reader on your device, you can also view the book through the browser.

As the title of my blog post suggests, I thought about doing a 30-day trial of reading 20 pages a day. I chose 20 pages because I wanted to choose a number that would allow me to finish reading Becoming by the end of the month. I believe when I checked on Kindle, it was a little over 420 pages. So, I’d be finished in 22 days. And, I don’t have to stick to just 20 pages a day. I could read more if I’m interested. I prefer to finish sections of books, or chapters. I don’t like cutting in the middle of text, so I would probably round up to the nearest end of the section or chapter.

I don’t normally read eBooks. I am used to reading paperbacks. I also don’t have a Kindle device of my own. My mother has a tablet, but sometimes she uses it in the evenings. For this challenge, I’m thinking about reading in the evenings. I usually have activities that I do throughout the day. In the evenings, I don’t have much to do. So, it would give me something to do during those times. I downloaded a Kindle reader on my computer so that I can use it in the evenings. I usually don’t get on my computer after dinner, but I thought I’d try to see how this habit goes for me. Maybe it could be relaxing. And if it goes really well, maybe I could buy a Kindle device specifically for reading in the evenings. I’ve seen some devices where the lighting is very similar to a paperback book.

I’m not going to rush into this 30-day trial. I thought about starting it in November. Maybe I could even ease into, by reading just 5 pages a day, then 10 pages, then 15, and then finally 20 on November 1st.

November is the month when some people participate in NaNoWriMo, an event in which you finish writing a first draft of a fictional novel of 50,000 words or more by the end of the month. I tried to participate in the past, but never successfully. I’ve been having trouble creating over the past few years since taking medication and hearing voices, so instead of focusing on output (writing), I’ll try to focus on being more selective with my input (what I’m reading, watching, etc.). Maybe that will help me later with expressing thoughts or ideas. Some people say that you should just focus on creating, but I think of what we learn in physics. What we put in, we get out. Consuming is just a part of the process in creating. No need to dismiss consumption. I think it’s more about what we choose to consume.

The reason I want to try to create a habit of reading more is to gain more knowledge. I want to learn new ideas. I want to see if there’s something I could do differently than what I’m currently doing that will benefit me in some way. I want to also be more conscious about what I’m consuming. These days, I tend to watch a lot of YouTube and Running Man (a Korean variety show). If I was more intentional about watching Running Man, I could improve my Korean language skills. But usually, I’m just watching it for entertainment. But with reading, I feel like I try to choose topics that not only interest me, but that I can learn more about. Even with fictional stories, I feel like I’m learning more. It can teach you more about a certain period of history, or give you new ideas about concepts of future technology. You can learn from videos too, but honestly lately, I’ve just been watching prank videos or cute baby/animal videos.

20 pages a day isn’t much. It’d probably take me 15 minutes, at most 30 minutes a day. I’ll still probably end up watching YouTube videos and Running Man. But, even a small habit can make a difference. Maybe later, when COVID-19 subsides and I go to travel different places, I will feel more drawn to reading on my off time. Right now, I like the idea of reading more, but I don’t actually practice it. I think starting is the hardest part. It’s like exercise. It can be hard especially if you haven’t done it in a while. But if you practice it more, it becomes second-nature.

Assuming that the average book I’ll read will be 300 pages in length, if I read at a pace of 20 pages per day, it’ll amount to 15 days per book. That’s about 2 books per month or 24 books per year. That’s 2400% of the 1 book I’ve been reading per year. I wonder how much more knowledgeable I’ll be. I wonder if I’ll become more creative. Who knows.

To be honest, doing just a 30-day trial wouldn’t be enough to make sense of all the benefits. I feel like a year-long challenge would be much more sufficient. But honestly, I have trouble keeping long-term habits if I don’t have a system set up. I have trouble building these systems most of the time. So, I give up pretty easily. Right now, my system is to download books into my Kindle reader on my computer and to read every evening. But what if some event gets in the way? What if my parents want me to go with them somewhere one evening? Or what if I’m feeling especially tired? Or what if I just have trouble getting through the 20 pages? Should I make it easier on myself, maybe settling for just 10 pages on those off days?

Thinking about this now, I could set a goal to read at a specific time each evening. I probably will settle for 9:00 PM because this is usually the time after I have completed all my evening activities. I’m usually doing nothing particularly important at this time. And if I happen to be out late that evening, I will set a goal of reading right after changing into my pajamas and brushing my teeth. I highly doubt I’ll be out past that time, and I want to make sure that it’s not too late so that I don’t read at all.

What happens if halfway through reading the book, I realize that I don’t want to finish it? I’ll make sure that I have another option available of what to read. I’ll also try to give each book a chance. I’ll read at least 100 pages (5 days worth of reading) before I turn to another book. At least with that much read, I’ll know if it’s worth reading or not. And, I’ll have read enough to know whether or not I’d recommend it to someone else. I think 100 pages is definitely sufficient enough for telling whether a book is worth reading or not.

Looking back, I feel like this habit would have been nice to build in high school, or even back in elementary school. I used to love reading picture books when I was in elementary school. And then eventually, I upgraded to chapter books without pictures, but mostly fiction. But in elementary school, we didn’t read many books. There was one specific time I remember we had a reading competition, with each book color-coded to define the level of difficulty. And then in middle school, we’d get out summer reading, and I’d get bored reading less than a quarter way through some of these books. If I had the habit of reading 20 pages a day, I’d get through all the books in a timely matter and would feel more disciplined I guess. Like even if I don’t enjoy a particular book and it’s required reading, I’d still be able to get through it and discuss it in class.

However, it’s never too late to build the habit. I could read the books that my friends recommend for example, and even if I never finish it, I could still say, “I read 100 pages of it, but just couldn’t get into it.” And I’d have my clearly defined reasons for not enjoying it. And even if I don’t like it, but someone else does, it’d give me more perspective of what the other person’s interests are. For example, years ago, someone told me about this fiction book. It’s about a teen girl with schizophrenia who is hospitalized, hear voices, and has self-harming tendencies. She thought it’d be of interest to me because I also hear voices. I don’t know how far I got, but I read maybe ten chapters or so and stopped reading it. I didn’t feel like I could really relate to the character, and I wasn’t too into the storyline. But, I could see why the person who recommended it to me would read that book. It’s her life’s work and it helps her to understand people who are going through similar experiences. For me, it’s not particularly useful.

I got a few recommendations of books to read on my side Instagram. Some are books that were recommended readings in high school. Maybe I’ll keep those books in mind. A lot of people recommended fiction books. It’s been a while since I’ve read fiction. Well, aside from the one book about the teen with schizophrenia. It was in college when I started to lean more toward non-fiction, especially about personal development.

I guess these days, I’m interested in autobiographies of some sort. For example, the reason I wanted to read Michelle Obama’s book is because I was interested to learn about what led her to be the person that she is, and see if there’s anything that I could take away from it. It doesn’t even have to be an autobiography per se, but as long as it’s non-fiction and it includes stories about their life, it interests me especially if it’s a person that has a trait that I strive to have. For example, I’ve read books by Steve Pavlina and Gene Simmons. I’ve read Steve’s blog before and have read so many posts of his that I thought I’d surely learn more if I read his own published book. And with Gene Simmons, I just remember reading a few pages in the bookstore and automatically feeling hooked. I read both of these books front to back. So, I think I’ll finish Michelle’s book if I succeed at the 30-day trial.

If anyone wants to join me in the 30-day trial of reading X amount of pages per day in the month of November, feel free! We can encourage each other and share tips. We can even share what we’re reading. I’ll see if I can add a contact page on here so that anyone can reach out to me. I’m also active on Instagram, though it just depends if I see your DM (I get a lot).