Based in south west london, tom is a creative artworker working within the Luxury Goods Retail Market, world renowned Museums and the Exhibitions sector

36 Books In a Year

This is my goal for 2019. To read 36 books by the year-end. I’m not sure if I should feel daunted, or motivated, or both. If I go by years-gone-by, then intimidated, definitely. I don’t know how many books I read in 2018, but it wasn’t many. Fewer still are the number of books I actually finished. I have an awful habit of buying a book, reading half of it, buying another, reading half of that one, and on and on ad infinitum. This is due to a lethal mix of FOMO and with my well-practised inability to finish things.

As huge, ambitious goals go, this one started out simple enough. “Read More” was my original thought. But as goals go, that’s pretty vague. So I began to clarify it. What do I want to read? Looking at some of my other objectives for 2019 I came to the conclusion that I wanted to learn about finance and business. So I went online, and after a quick search came up with a few blog posts with recommended-reading lists. One, in particular, caught my attention: 36 Books to Read If You Want to Become a Billionaire.

There were several things I liked about it:

  • The original question was oversimplified, “What one book can I read to become a billionaire?”, but had been expanded upon and answered well.

  • It included both business and finance topics, which covered my annual goals and would also translate well into my work life.

  • The books are broken down into levels—Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced—and the levels are organised into sub-sections.

  • I already owned 6 of the books, including the first one, which allowed me to start the project immediately, and meant I only had to buy 30 more. Also, I’m ashamed to say, I had only read one of the 6 I owned cover-to-cover.

  • 36 books felt like a good number. Three per month or one approximately every ten days. Enough to be a challenge but not so much it was unachievable.

  • I liked the structure of it. Knowing what to read first and what was next. A lot of the problem I had with always half-reading books was I suffered greatly with the paradox of choice and fear of missing out. Having too much choice meant I was stuck in headlights and never knew where I should be going or what I should be reading. Having a plan of A-to-B-to-C meant I just had to follow the path and put in the work with minimal thought as to what direction I was going.

  • Having 36 books to read in a year would help me get over my problem of never finishing things once and for all. A–Always, B–Be, C–Closing.

  • While reading the article, I wondered how many other people had read it and then gone away and actually read the books. I thought about all the blog posts I’d read with titles like this one—“XX things to do to get XX”—and then never done anything about it. Reading the blog post isn’t the same as doing the work. “You can’t hire someone else to do your push-ups for you”. If I wanted to see improvement then first I had to put in the work.

And start right away I did. I actually started a little early too. On the 19th of December, a whole 12 days before 2019! I started reading Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill, and ordered The Success Principals by Jack Canfield. I wanted to make sure I took up the challenge right away and not sit on the idea for a few days and then dismiss it. I also wanted to make sure I had the next book ready to go once I finished the first one - I didn’t want to lose a couple of days reading time waiting for shipping.

The other thing I did was do some maths and work out the enormity of the task I was about to undertake. I made a spreadsheet, listed all the titles, and got page counts for each book from Amazon. The number came to 11,332 pages. This works out at approximately 31 pages per day (not counting my 12-day head-start). I divided that by 365 and got around 31 pages per day. I then worked out how many days each book would take me and plotted out the coming year of reading. That spreadsheet looked like this:

The most colourful spreadsheet I’ve ever made!

The most colourful spreadsheet I’ve ever made!


With this new information I decided a few things:

First, I was going to aim for 36 pages per day. There’s a nice correlation—36 books/36 pages—and over the year it would give me a buffer of around 50 days if I fell short due to work/life commitments. It also meant that I could potentially finish early and either re-read some bits from the year or, add in a couple of related books based on what piqued my interest.

Second, I was going to blog about my experiences. I’d written a blog before and then fallen out of the habit, and I missed it. It would serve not only to document my progress and help me keep track but also maybe be an inspiration to others who, like me, had read the countless blog posts with titles like “36 books to read if you want to become a billionaire” and then never looked at one of those books.


And that is it. Nothing left to do but start. I’m excited to see where this journey takes me, and I hope that by documenting my progress I can share some insights and help inspire others to either pick up a book or motivate themselves to try and expand their knowledge.

Book #1: Think and Grow Rich