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My 2021 in 119 books

How the virtue of reading to the fullest capacity transformed my year

<p>Typically, I would find myself reading right before bed or during breaks from doing homework. &nbsp;</p>

Typically, I would find myself reading right before bed or during breaks from doing homework.  


When I think back to what made 2021 memorable for me, there’s a lot that comes to mind. I could look back to the hundreds of photos or the themed playlists I made as a reflection of the year. However, there’s something that I think better encapsulates an overview of my year and experiences — books. 

I read a whopping 119 books last year. So if you thought you maybe misread the title or that it was a typo, I can assure you that is not the case. I don’t think that it’s as impressive as it may sound, but it is an accomplishment that I am rather proud of. 

To put things in perspective a little bit, reading is one of my main and favorite hobbies. For as long as I can remember, I have always had a strong affinity for it. I can’t pinpoint it exactly, but I think it started somewhere around the time I first read Dr. Seuss’ “Go, Dog. Go!” My love for reading has only grown since then. Fast forward to the present day, and now I can obsess over a book in almost any genre. 

In 2021, I actively made an effort to read daily, and that meant I could even read for as little as 15 minutes some days. For me, it was all about putting in the effort and time — however little or big — to do something I love. Typically, I would find myself reading right before bed or during breaks from doing homework. On occasion, I would find time in between classes where I sat in a quiet corner and read. 

Along with the effort and time aspect, I made sure to keep a book with me at all times. I am a huge fan of reading physical books, so this often meant that my backpack weighed an extra pound or two. 

I’ll be transparent in saying that I didn’t accomplish my goal of reading daily. Thinking back to it, there were spans of days in which I didn’t even touch a book. Life sometimes got in the way — and that is O.K. I would like to think I did a pretty good job though — 119 is quite the number, and it beats my record of 115 books from the year before. 

I usually track what I read in two ways — a Google Document and Goodreads. If you don’t know what Goodreads is, it’s basically a social media platform for book nerds. You can discover, share and keep track of books you want to read or those you have already read. It gives you the option to become friends with other users and also see their activity on the website.

Out of all the books I read, there were few that I awarded five stars to — I tend to be rather strict with my ratings. One that stands out in particular “The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue” by V.E. Schwab. I read this in February and I still get chills thinking of it. It follows the life of Addie, who is essentially stuck living forever and her struggle with never being remembered. The author beautifully intertwines the realm of fantasy with themes of love and loss as she paints Addie’s story of struggle. I am not the biggest fan of fantasy, but I fell in love with this book from the first few pages. 

I don’t remember all books by place or time but some of them hold unique memories. For example, I won’t ever forget reading “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” for the first time — despite the movie being one of my favorites since I was in middle school — while home for Thanksgiving break during college. Memories like that are why I choose to look at books to reflect on my year. 

If I am going to be honest, I don’t think I will read anywhere close to 119 books during 2022. However, I will make sure that reading is as much — if not more of — a priority for me this year than it was in years past. I think it’s really important to dedicate time to do things that you love regardless of how busy or stressful our lives may get with work and school. It was a really big stress reliever for me — no matter how my day was going, I had a little pocket of time to disconnect and immerse myself in the world of the book I was reading. It made me feel good that I was able to prioritize a hobby in the chaos of life and it also gave me a little sense of accomplishment. 

As we start off this new semester, keep this in mind as you begin to plan out your days. Whether it’s reading, meditating or doing something like going on a run, a little act of self care can go a long way. It might not be perfect at first — or at all — but I think the effort matters more than perfection when it comes to self-care. 

Zoya Zahid is a Life Columnist for The Cavalier Daily. She can be reached at


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