The Read 52 Books 2018 Challenge

The Read 52 Books Challenge 2018

52 Books 2018 – another year another challenge.

At the start of 2017, I created my new year’s resolution to read 52 books by the end of the year. It was a challenge with a difference, and it quickly turned into one of the most enjoyable resolutions I’ve set so far.

I’ve always been keen on reading since picking up my first book as a kid. And’s let’s face it, to complete 52 books a year, you must have an interest in reading!

So how hard was the challenge

Well, although at one point I did start to question what I had got myself into, it turned out not to be as bad as expected. Once a regular reading routine was in place the challenge turned out to be quite fun.

More importantly, I enjoyed the challenge so much that I’ve decided to continue it on into 2018.

So Why 52 Books 2018?

When I started the 52 books challenge in 2017, it was because I wanted to push myself to do more.

Once the challenge picked up the pace I suddenly found myself with plenty of time for:

Reading forgotten books – there’s a small list of ever-increasing books that I’ve wanted to open up over the years, and for whatever reason, I’ve just not got around to starting them. Some were recommendations, others had just been sitting hidden away on my laptop.

Reading books on new topics – if I’m only reading a few books a year then its guaranteed I‘m sticking to something that’s proven to be enjoyable. Reading 52 books a year allowed me to expand an experiment with other books on a wide range of topics.

Re-reading old books – sometimes a subject might be information-rich, meaning I just won’t absorb the full extent of the concepts the first time around. Other times it re-reading a book that was so good the first time its worthy of a second or third.

“Some books should be tasted, some devoured, but only a few should be chewed and digested thoroughly.”
― Francis Bacon

Highlights of the First 52 Books Challenge

The majority of the books were enjoyable to some extent. But I enjoyed these four the most:

Death in the Afternoon by Ernest Hemingway – my first Hemingway book and I loved it!

Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson – I’ve never been a huge Apple fan but the story behind Steve Jobs was well told and captivating.

Tools of Titans by Timothy Ferriss – sounds very similar to the title of my blog but as usual Tim Ferris brings a wealth of information gathered from the top performers in their relevant fields.

Van Diemen’s Land by James Boyce – a look back into the history of how a convict state turned into present day Tasmania.

The Read 52 Books 2018 Challenge

The challenge wasn’t just about me as there were multiple appearances from some authors.

The top of the list was Bill Bryson with a massive three books: A Short History of Nearly EverythingAt Home: A Short History of Private Life and In a Sunburned Country.

From the following authors I read two books each:

Mitchell Zuckoff: 13 Hours: The Inside Account of What Happened In Benghazi and Ponzi’s Scheme: The True Story of a Financial Legend.

J. Maarten Troost: Getting Stoned with Savages and Lost on Planet China.

Walter Isaacson: Steve Jobs and Einstein: His Life and Universe.

Sadly I couldn’t get into the Albert Einstein biography with the same enthusiasm as the writer’s effort on Steve Jobs. A Geek in Japan and Muay Thai Fighter didn’t get the blood flowing either.

With so many great titles to compete against they did have a high benchmark.

Lessons Learnt

The challenge shouldn’t be about trying to plough through as many books as possible. I learnt a few tips to make 52 Books 2018 more comfortable and less of a chore.

Such as:

It’s best not to plan – I found reading whatever book whenever worked well for me and didn’t make the challenge rigid and scheduled. That would have just taken the fun out of it.

Not a book a week challenge – it’s natural to think 52 books a year divided by 52 weeks would equal a book per week. However (quite quickly) I found that not all books are made equal. Some had less than 300 pages while others were nearly three times bigger with more than 800.

Don’t be afraid of big books – looking back, this shouldn’t have worried me as much as it did because I’ve always been a fast reader. Now I know what I’m capable of handling 1000+ page books and take the sky’s the limit approach (or at least the top shelf of the bookstore!).

The 52 Books 2018 List

For all those who wish to follow my progress or join in the fun this year, like before I will be updating with all the 52 books 2018 titles as they become available.

Also, the hashtag for social media will be #52books2018.

Any updates will be published on my Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest channels.

So enough is enough and time to kick off the 52 books 2018 challenge!

1) The Mechanic’s Tale

by Steve Matchett


As a self-confessed motorsport fan what better way to start the year with a book by a former F1 mechanic. The Mechanic’s Tale by Steve Match gives a firsthand account of the great drivers from the 1990’s, including Michael Schumacher, Nigel Mansell, Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna. He also talks winning three World Championships with Benetton and the aftermath that followed. A worthy read for any petrol head.

2) Mayday: How warring egos forced Qantas off course

by Matt O’Sullivan


Founded in 1920 by two WWI pilots and a grazier, the “Flying Kangaroo” is Australia’s oldest and most respected airlines in the world. Famous for never having lost a jet during flight, in late 2014 Qantas had a crash of a different kind, recording one of the most significant losses in global aviation history. Mayday is a story about an airline at war with itself and the world.

3) The Barefoot Investor: The Only Money Guide You’ll Ever Need 

by Scott Pape

Without a doubt one of the most down to earth and least boring books about money management I’ve read in my life!

4) Excursion to Hell: Mount Longdon  

by Vincent Bramley (

A hard book to find as it was supposedly banned for a time. Excursion to Hell is an account of the Falklands War told by an ordinary guy on the ground. Vincent Bramley gives an eye witness account of what happened to him and his fellow paratroopers during the bloody battle for Mount Longdon.


5) Lost in Shangri-La 

by Mitchell Zuckoff

Near the end of World War II, a plane carrying 24 members of the US military, including nine Women’s Army Corps members, crashed into the New Guinea jungle during a sightseeing excursion. The three survivors–a WAC, a young lieutenant who lost his twin brother in the crash, and a severely injured sergeant–were stranded deep in a jungle valley notorious for its cannibalistic tribes.


6) Trump: How to Get Rich

by Donald Trump

It seems everyone has an option about Donald Trump since he became president of the USA. Well everyone except me that is. Because, to be honest, I don’t know that much about the Man so what better way to find out more than reading about what makes him tick – money.

In How to Get Rich, Donald Trump covers how to: invest wisely – impress the boss and get a raise – manage a business efficiently – hire, motivate, and fire employees – negotiate anything – maintain the quality of your brand – think big and live large.


7) Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind

by Yuval Noah Harari 

It’s only book number 7 of 52 but I have a feeling this could be one of, if not my favourite book of this year. Remarkably thorough and thought-provoking. If you have a curiosity about history and life – then read this book!

8) Happier at Home

by Gretchen Rubin

Just because there’s always room for more happiness!

9) By the Rivers of Babylon

by Nelson DeMille

I came across Tolhurst Downunder Bookshop while I was in Hobart a few weeks back. It’s an interesting 2nd hand bookshop run by an even more interesting gentleman who knows everything and anything there is to know about books. Anyway, to cut a long story short I ended up reading the book he ‘threw in for free’ before the one I purchased!

10) The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich

by Timothy Ferriss

A must read for all those who plan on working remotely. 4HWW was one of the first books I read that got me questioning my decisions on life and work. Eight years later some points are still relevant. I’ve even integrated some concepts into my life like mini-retirements and not working for work’s sake. Some of what’s written can be far-fetched but there are plenty of gold nuggets inside this book.

15) The Interloper: Lee Harvey Oswald Inside the Soviet Union

By Peter Savodnik

Please note: some of the 52 books 2018 links featured in this post are affiliate links.

Barry Sproston
Barry is an English traveller and expat who spends most of his time between Asia and Australia. He has spent 12 months training at a Gung Fu school learning Wing Chun. Explored the island of Taiwan by scooter more than once. Been tricked into eating raw horse meat sushi in Japan. Even tried to overcome the fear of heights by bungee jumping in Thailand.
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25 thoughts on “The Read 52 Books 2018 Challenge

  1. Tracy

    Excellent idea! I find I read less books now I am blogging all the time but I am trying to fit more books in. I had a twitter chat with you about the barefoot investor so that is next on my list to read as well as some Tony Parks books as they are set in Africa which I enjoy reading about!

  2. Travel Lexx

    I really admire stuff like this – I read a lot but not books unfortunately – I subscribe to a lot of travel and games magazines and read them cover to cover which doesn’t leave any time for books – maybe my challenge for 2018 should just be “get back to reading books”. Thank you for sharing and I will be keeping an eye out on your progress

  3. Rob+Ann @TravelLatte(.net)

    We lament often about not “having time” to read anymore. Of course, that’s really just a matter of making time! But with a mounting, well, mountain of books I keep meaning to get to, I could do with hopping on this bandwagon. In particular, it’s a great way to indulge my love of history and early travelogues. I can’t say we’ll hit 52 books in 52 weeks, but any additional reading is good! Thanks for the encouragement!

    1. Barry SprostonBarry Sproston Post author

      Well guys, you have come to the right place as I love a good ol bit of history also. Not sure how many history books will make it into the 2018 challenge yet but there will be a few for sure. You hit the nail on the head about making time – that’s the secret 😉

  4. Urska | sliva

    Bravo, congrats! Have to say it sounds quite a challenge to read so many books, but on the other hand, I can imagine how much can you learn/experiences than in a year. Definitely a challenge worth taking.

  5. Angie (FeetDoTravel)Angie (FeetDoTravel)

    I take my hat off to you for repeating this challenge – 52 books a year is definitely a challenge and I love the lessons you have learnt from it, aside from all the knowledge you will have gained from reading all those books! I really enjoyed Bill Bryson’s “Down Under” and when I was in Australia, I found “He died with a felafel in his hand” rather amusing as it had references to places I knew. I also find Steve Jobs’ story of his rise to power and how he broke the stereo-typical mould fascinating. Thanks for this re-cap and sharing your 2018 vision 🙂 Pinned #feetdotravel

    1. Barry SprostonBarry Sproston Post author

      I agree with you Angie. Bill Bryson’s Down Under was so much more enjoyable when you either been to or know the places he is talking about. Having lived in various parts of Australia I expected to come across some bits in the book where I would loudly say ‘that’s not true!’ – but he did a great job and everything he said is spot on.

  6. Lisa

    That’s a really cool goal! I wish I had enough time to read 52 books a year. Sadly college won’t let that happen (yet). Last year i read 12 books and this year my goal is 24 🙂

  7. Stephanie (1AdventureTraveler)

    That’s a big task you took on reading all those books. Very impressive and informational as in “You Lessons Learnt”. How fun you are starting off with 52books for 2018. Good luck! Looking forward to seeing your progress and learn about the books you have read. Happy reading… #feetdotravel

  8. Ruth

    I love to read but have to admit I have not been able to read actual books because of spending too much time on the Internet (a lot of time working on the blog). I still read everyday but it is online (newspaper, articles, blog post, etc.). I have a bunch of books I would like to read and I need to start moving thru the pile. Thanks for the inspiration!

    1. Barry SprostonBarry Sproston Post author

      Just finished it today and its worth a read. I wasn’t aware of all the politics that that go on and just how cutthroat the airline industry is. Mind you now I’ve read how much the CEO’s get paid I can see why!

  9. California Globetrotter

    Wow that’s impressive! Only one year I managed to read like 30-40 books bc I was spending so much time on the bus that I actually had the time to read something! Now I barely make it one book a year! #FeetDoTravel

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