My Reading Strategy for Finishing Books

My Super-Nerdy Reading Strategy for Finishing Books

“I do so hate finishing books. I would like to go on with them for years." Beatrix Potter

So it’s November and the end of the year is around the corner. If you’re an avid reader like me, you probably set a book goal some time in January that you want to hit by New Year’s Eve so you can set your next one.

Maybe you’re not that calculated or goal-oriented but you do have pile of to-be-read books where your nightstand used to be. Finishing books is top priority. I’m going to talk to you today about one of my end of the year reading strategies that helps me meet my book goals and read myself silly.

Today I want to share a book reading strategy with you that I’ve never talked about before. As you might suspect, I usually keep the hyper-nerdy stuff to myself. Here it goes…

If you set a goal back in January, I want you to think about it for a moment. Maybe it’s an arbitrary number or maybe you put a lot of thought into the amount of time you’d have to actually read each week. Either way, you probably want to figure out how to reach that goal in the next six weeks before you set another goal next year.

These unfinished books are not going to read themselves, so if giving up is not an option, how do we prioritize finishing our in-progress books?

So you’ve probably heard of Dave Ramsey’s snowball system for paying off debt, right? He talks about it in his book, Total Money Makeover, and it’s a little counter-intuitive to what you might think is the smartest way to get out of debt.

If you think targeting the debt balance with the highest interest rate is the way to go because it is costing you more, you are not alone, but Dave Ramsey disagrees. He suggests putting all of your debt balances in order from smallest to largest and knocking them out one by one with all of your extra income. You don’t even need to think about interest rates.

The momentum you build from paying off one creditor after another tells the brain to release dopamine, the reward chemical, which helps you stay committed to becoming entirely debt free. Every time you pay off a debt, you win.

How does that translate to reading, you ask? Well, I’m not necessarily a compulsive shopper, but I am a compulsive reader. And let me tell you, I am in book debt up to my ears. Like any seasoned addict, I probably hide half of my habit from from my Goodreads friends and family. My “Currently Reading” shelf only shows a fraction of the books that are actually in progress.

Every November I go on a book freeze. I don’t buy any more books on Amazon and forbid myself to check out new titles at the library. Simply put, I need to get my book debt down before the end of the year. If I can eliminate it – even better. The way I start is by figuring out which title I am closest to finishing. First, I list all of the books I currently have in progress and the amount of pages I have left. This is a support group, right? Okay, so no judgment…

These numbers reflect how many pages I have left of each book. The Book Oblivion Community is also reading through In Search of Lost Time and currently tackling Volume II at 30 pages a week (, and I’ll be re-reading Kafka on the Shore (467) with my Murakami and Magical Realism course over the next four weeks. If I add all this debt up, I have a grand total of (drum role please…..) 

Grand total: 1475 pages.

Next, you figure out how many days are left in the year. I know, I know… there are a lot of numbers here. Stay with me. There are 51 days left in the year, so if I want to finish these books and start fresh next year, then I need to read 28.9 pages per day between now and then.

Finishing books is not hard when you break it down like this. If I attack these books in order, then I’ll probably end up reading more than my 29 pages each day to finish it and move on. I should point out that I don’t speed read at all, so even though I read a lot, it still takes me a while to get through books.

Lastly, I will admit that some of these books are in the debt pile because they are hard to get through. Reading is suppose to be for pleasure, right? Well, sometimes we need to make sacrifices now to enjoy the fruits of our labor later. No one ever said reading promised immediate rewards. It often does, but I rarely regret reading books and never regret pushing myself to finish them. So there you have it. That is one of my super nerdy strategies for working off book debt.

There is plenty of advice that will tell you not finishing books is okay. This is not that advice. I think you can do finishing books is possible with a little strategic planning. I hope you reach your finish line this year because I’m already excited to set new goals with you next year.

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Finishing books is possible with a little strategic planning. Here is how I slay my book debt at the end of the year to reach my reading goals.