In early 2014 I was completely addicted to social media and my phone. To the detriment of my health and my relationships.
A reading challenge that year changed all that and saved me from my social media addiction, and my life is so very different now.
Yesterday I finished reading my 30th book this year.
Last year I read 70 books in the year. A record for me (it's usually 50 something).
I'm not sharing this to brag, to compete or to make you feel bad.
Instead I want to share my reading story with you...
I grew up in a house of bookworms.
I learnt to read early and Saturday mornings were spent at the local library.
The biggest treat before going on our yearly holiday was a visit to the bookshop to buy a brand new book for the journey.
In primary school one Christmas I totally missed my call to go on stage in the nativity play as I was engrossed in a book backstage. My poor parents sat through an hour of kids reenacting the nativity story without my starring role - being in the background in the inn.
Aged 14 I got a part-time Saturday job in a local bookshop and my love of books deepened.
I have missed numerous train stations and bus stops in the past through having my nose buried in a book.
I was one of the first people I know to get a Kindle as the idea of being able to take so many books around with me - in my handbag or a suitcase - totally won me over from the idea of not having a physical book in my hands.
When I used to commute to work in London I had 20 minutes undisturbed bliss (on a packed tube) every morning, and the same every evening, to read and lose myself.
Then I started working from home.
I was constantly picking up my phone to scroll on social media. First thing in the morning. Last thing at night.
Until one day I realised my phone habit had taken over from my reading habit.
At the end of 2013 (a year and a half after stopping my daily commute) I saw people talking on Twitter about doing a "book a week" challenge.
I knew I couldn't commit to a book a week, but I could probably manage 52 books in a year (when I'm on holiday I devour a book a day).
So I announced on all my social media channels that this is what I would be doing in 2014.
I created a Google doc and every time I finished a book I added it to my list and had a quick look at the calendar to see if I was on track or running behind.
This challenge pushed me to pick up my Kindle rather than my phone in the evening. And my love of reading returned.
In 2014 I read exactly 52 books.
The challenge had changed me so much that since then I've read around this number every year (49-54 books until I hit a record with 70 books last year).
I don't restrict myself on what I read, so there is a fair amount of trash mixed up with business books, personal development, inspirational, biographical, and, in the last year, anti-racism books.
But better than all that, my social media and phone addiction is controlled. I will always be an addict, so I still have to be very careful, but it no longer takes over my life.
In case you need a nudge to get back to / take up reading, here it is. In case you need a push to get off your phone and the social media scroll suck, here it is. I'm pretty certain you won't regret it. And if you need book recommendations, jump on my mailing list as I often share what I've been reading in my newsletters :-)
Also if you've got any book recommendations of your own please do share with me ([email protected])!!