My New Year's Resolution: Read 52 BooksMy New Year’s resolution is to read 52 books.

The fireworks have finished, and the hangover may have disappeared, but 2017 is here to stay. Then with every New Year, there’s a New Year’s resolution made.

Making a New Year’s resolution is a tradition that most of us who live in the Western Hemisphere do and have done for as long as I can remember.

However, if I’m honest with myself, I’ve never really taken them seriously. It’s not that I see them as a joke or a bit of fun (although they can be) but what I mean is I have never made a New Year’s resolution that I can accomplish.

Let me explain with some past New Year’s resolutions below:

  • 2011: Go to the gym more
  • 2012: Eat healthier
  • 2013: Save more money for travels
  • 2014: Minimise my gear and sell everything I don’t use/need
  • 2015: Visit more new countries
  • 2016: Travel less (stay in a fixed location longer)

Some of the above, such as go to the gym more and save more money, might also be familiar with your previous New Year’s resolutions. I will admit travel less was a bit random, but I will explain that in just a minute. I want to discuss the problem with my past New Year’s resolutions first.

The problem isn’t that they don’t have potential, they do. Who doesn’t want to be healthier, fitter, save money and travel more?

The problem with the resolutions I have previously made is they are not measurable.

For example,

  • How many times a week is going to the gym more?
  • Is chomping one more apple a day eating healthier?
  • How much is exactly is saving more for travels, $100, $1000, $10000?

I’m sure you’re starting to get my point…

The good intentions are there. There’s just no measurement in place to monitor if the New Year’s resolution has been achieved or not.

With no way to tell if they have been achieved – they will always fail.

Enter the read 52 books challenge.

“I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book.”

― Groucho Marx

Why read 52 books?

I’m an avid reader and reading has been something I’ve enjoyed for a long time.

To make a resolution like this you have to enjoy reading. If you don’t enjoy reading, which some people don’t, completing a book a week is going to be extremely difficult. To read 52 books is a lot of work.

Reading does have many benefits though such as improving memory, vocabulary, writing skills and knowledge.

What better way to spend a few lost hours at the airport or waiting for that night train? One of the benefits of travelling so much is it allows plenty of opportunities to sit down and read the latest New York Times bestseller.

The perfect book can mesmerise your thoughts from start to finish, almost making you feel part of the story.

2016 was a good year in many ways. I met new people, developed new partnerships and set up a new business.

It also had its setbacks, and I ended some toxic relationships.

Was in the book shop looking for a new read today. I’m stuck between ‘I love dick’ and ‘Kill your boss’ ?

A photo posted by Barry Sproston (@toolsoftravel) on

I also chose to scale back on travelling compared to 2014 & 2015 and set up a permanent base in Melbourne. Working from a remote location is an excellent way to see the world, but the main reason for setting up a semi-fixed base around travelling was to allow me to get more creative things done.

The downside of working more in one area is other areas of your life can suffer. My reading did.

I never officially counted how many books I completed in 2016 but it was a lot less than previous years.

At one point I was really struggling to find time to read anything at all and started listening to audio books in the gym. I’m not saying that audio books are good or bad, but for the pleasure reading gives me, I felt like there should have been more.

So for 2017 I will read 52 books

It will be the first time I have placed a number on a New Year’s resolution and plan on monitoring the results.

This post will be updated regularly with the books I have completed and you are more than welcome to take ideas from my reading list. I will also update my social media using the hashtag #52books.

Finally, what happens if I fail?

Well at the end of the day it’s only a New Year’s resolution. Although I’m going to try my best to finish it, it’s not going to obstruct relationships with friends, family or business.

The good news is I’m fired up and looking forward to my reading time.

52 Books

Van Diemen's Land

by James Boyce

Muay Thai Fighter

By Paul Garrigan

The Elements of Style

By William Strunk Jr

A Tale of Two Cities

By Charles Dickens

A Fighter's Heart

By Sam Sheridan

Hide and Seek

By Ian Rankin

Zombie Survival Guide

By Max Brookes

Death in the Afternoon

by Ernest Hemingway

Blast the Bush

by Len Beadell

Mad, Bad and Dangerous to Know

by Ranulph Fiennes

Steve Jobs

by Walter Isaacson

Getting Stoned with Savages

by J. Maarten Troost

Lost on Planet China

by J. Maarten Troost

A Tiger in Eden

by Chris Flynn

The Old Ways: A Journey on Foot

by Robert Macfarlane

One Thing Led to Another

Mark "Chopper" Read

Einstein: His Life and Universe

by Walter Isaacson

In Search Of The Holden Piazza

by Chris Warr and Joe Kremzer

In a Sunburned Country

by Bill Bryson

The Increment

by Chris Ryan

Hot Shots

by Kevin Meredith

Wordpress SEO 2017

by Dr. Andy Williams

Bodyweight Strength Training Anatomy

by Bret Contreras

Boom – what a year! This is the last book and my 2017 New Year’s Resolution; AKA the #52books challenged finished! There was a point while reading a few page heavy books that I thought the challenge might be doomed. But I ploughed on and surprised myself in the end. . It seems fitting to end with Body Strength Training Anatomy by Bret Contreas as the only other fitness book this year was book number1. Anway the great news is, even though I have a different resolution for 2018, I’m going to keep on with the 52 books challenge. Bring on 2018!

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


  • Frank
    Posted January 26, 2017

    52 books is a lot of reading!
    You say that it is hard to measure eating healthier, saving more money, or going to the gym more…but I think the same can be said about books. It could be a picture book or a children’s book (Dr. Seuss for example).
    Anyway, just a thought if you get to the last day of the year and you need 10 books or so to finish off your goal 😉

    Frank (bbqboy)

    • Barry Sproston
      Posted January 28, 2017

      Haha, I like it Frank. We can joke about it now but come to the end of the year and I might need to take your advice! It’s been a while, so maybe it’s time to reintroduce Dr Seuss back in my life…

  • David
    Posted January 18, 2017

    Such a great idea for a resolution and I do agree that making them more measurable is always a better strategy towards success. I agree with Midori, Netflix is a killer for reading habits but I also the cost has turned me off these days as it seems more and more a luxury. Best of luck Barry, certainly got me thinking about my resolutions now.

    • Barry Sproston
      Posted January 28, 2017

      I don’t have a Netflix account but know it can be addictive. To be honest I haven’t watched TV or the news for quite a while. Youtube is probably my TV these days! The only exception is Korean dramas – I did get quite addicted to them while I was in Soth Korea.

  • Rob+Ann @TravelLatte(.net)
    Posted January 18, 2017

    In the days before Internet, we tore through books! As media changed (more Internet, less print) so did the content. I find I still read a lot, but now it’s more blogs and online magazines, fewer print magazines and books. This is a good reminder to get reacquainted with our old friends, Books! Although…I’ll pick up a copy of Hitchhiker’s any time! Enjoy the challenge. 🙂

    • Barry Sproston
      Posted January 28, 2017

      Totally agree Rob, I did get to a point last year where I was reading more online article and blog posts. With online reading I do find is way easier to get distracted though. I would prefer to read an old fashioned book if given the choice between the two.

  • ThriftyTrails
    Posted January 16, 2017

    The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy! I love that book! I read it a few years ago when my then boyfriend (now husband) lived 4 hours away. We had a book club of sorts with just the two of us. I can barely finish one book in 3 months, much less in a week. Kudos to you for setting such a resolution! Remember this: 42. You’ll know what I’m talking about when you finish the book.

    • Barry Sproston
      Posted January 28, 2017

      Compared to the others books I’ve read so far The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy was the most fun to read. I love how your version of reading this book has its only little romantic story attached to it! Nothing exciting happened to me apart from I had a good laugh or three.

  • Travel Lexx
    Posted January 16, 2017

    That’s an awesome idea! I would love to read more books but I have many magazine subscriptions that I have to read cover to cover so by the time I am done with all of them, I have barely any time left until the next set of issues! Look forward to reading some of your reviews!

    • Barry Sproston
      Posted January 28, 2017

      Yeah, it is a problem. I also do a lot of online reading as well as listening to podcasts too, so some will suffer during the 52 books challenge. As long as you’re reading that’s the main aim really. I guess not everyone has the motivation read a book regularly let along once a week.

  • Jen
    Posted January 15, 2017

    Great idea! I agree, I love reading and learnings new things, however once my job gets stressful or especially once I started my blog, my time has been consumed by other things and unintentionally I don’t leave myself time to relax and rewind! Looking forward to seeing what books you liked and didn’t to grow my reading list 🙂

    • Barry Sproston
      Posted January 28, 2017

      I know what you mean Jen – there is only so many hours in a week. I’ve also noticed it depends on how the book is written and the length. Some are certainly harder going than others.

  • Lisa
    Posted January 15, 2017

    I love reading books, take my kindle with me even when traveling. Not sure I could do one a week though. I tend to read a book straight through especially on our cold snowy Ohio winter days. Good for you for setting this resolution!

    • Barry Sproston
      Posted January 28, 2017

      Kindles are great very convenient when travelling. I do love the feel of a good old fashioned book, but it’s just not practical to be lugging them around everywhere.

  • Shona
    Posted January 15, 2017

    Great post Barry. It made me realise how I’ve neglected the joy of escaping through reading. Cheers!

    • Barry Sproston
      Posted January 19, 2017

      That’s true – reading does offer a great escape

  • Clair Kelly
    Posted January 14, 2017

    Wow that is a big commitment! I don’t think I could do it as I constantly have 2-3 books open at the same time! Will be interested to see how you get on 🙂

    • Barry Sproston
      Posted January 19, 2017

      Ah yeah – I used to have that problem too. I limited myself to a book at a time now otherwise I won’t finish any of them.

  • Tracy McConnachie Collins
    Posted January 13, 2017

    Great idea – I find blogging takes a lot of my reading time so I have set myself a book a month challenge! Not as impressive as 52 though! If you want some ideas I have a few posts called “Around the world in 80 books” with lots of books around travel!

    good luck and happy reading!

    • Barry Sproston
      Posted January 19, 2017

      That sounds great Tracy. I will check out your post as I love a good travel book.

  • Laura
    Posted January 13, 2017

    Barry what a fantastic resolution! Love the #52books idea – can’t wait to follow along and get some inspiration for my own reading endeavors! Juan Pablo and I both get inspiration for our travels from our love of literature. If you need any Latin American inspiration this year, here are five awesome novel recommendations:

    • Barry Sproston
      Posted January 19, 2017

      What a great idea. I certainly need to read more books from Latin America!

  • Anna Schlaht
    Posted January 13, 2017

    What a great New Year’s resolution! I, like you, love reading, but I, like you, haven’t done as much reading in the last few years as I’d prefer. Something always seems to come up … other hobbies get in the way. But your goal is truly inspiring!

    A book a week is a tall order, but at least it’s a fun one! Either way, you win because you’re motivated to read more in general. How awesome. 😀 I’ll be cheering you on this year (and hopefully read along with a few books of my own).

    • Barry Sproston
      Posted January 18, 2017

      I must admit it’s a fast pace at first and I did start to wonder if I had taken on too much. But now I’m in the third week of the challenge I’m really enjoying getting the chance to read books that kept getting pushed down the pile.

  • jenn | By Land and Sea
    Posted January 13, 2017

    That’s impressive! I have to do so much reading for school that I have little time or interest in reading for pleasure. It looks like you have some great content picked out so far!

    • Barry Sproston
      Posted January 18, 2017

      I know what you mean. When I was at uni the books were a killer! Academic books can put you off reading for life…

  • Anna
    Posted January 13, 2017

    I’m always reading at least 2-3 books at a time :). No matter how busy life can get with travel + work, I always make sure I get some time to enjoy a book. Good luck with this resolution! And please recommend books that you’ve enjoyed. 🙂

    • Barry Sproston
      Posted January 18, 2017

      That’s great to hear Anna. I will be posting the books I’ve read every week

  • Midori
    Posted January 13, 2017

    Definitely reading is my new resolution every year! After our new family memeber came into our lives, NETFLIX, I don’t read anything 🙁 Great advice!!! Thank you

    • Barry Sproston
      Posted January 18, 2017

      Haha, I don’t have Netflix but last time I went home to visit my parents they had recently got it – so I know what you mean! Very addictive.

  • Angie (FeetDoTravel)
    Posted January 13, 2017

    Well my first lasting thought is what a predicament to be in! You are stuck between “I love dick” and “Kill your boss” – is this literally in life or is simply which book to choose 😀 All joking aside, I think this is a great resolution to have – I also love reading and as a traveller, it’s great to just hang out on the beach or in a hammock reading a good book! I have got myself a e-reader as they hold a lot more books but I am old fashioned and love the feel of turning a page so I don’t know how I will get on as I start my new life as a full-time traveller! We shall see 😀 Love your first book (have you read Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Autobiography by any chance? He is a real motivator, very inspirational and a pioneer in workouts for men and women. #feetdotravel

    • Barry Sproston
      Posted January 18, 2017

      What can I say Angie – it was a tough choice! I’m totally the same and used to pack paperback books for my travels. These days I tend to read a lot more ebooks, just because it’s less weight to carry around. I still prefer a good old fashioned book if there’s the option. Thanks for the tip and yeah I did read Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Autobiography when it came out. I remember it was a fairly long book but it didn’t feel like it because of the different careers he had in Bodybuilding, films and politics. I wouldn’t mind reading it again some point.

  • Trippin' Turpins (Kelly)
    Posted January 13, 2017

    Great New Year’s resolution. I too am an avid reader but I find little time for reading now that I am blogging. Having said that there are times when we are sailing, and out of internet range, that I will read a book a day. I always read in bed at night, but sometimes two pages is enough for me to fall asleep. Good luck with your reading. I look forward to seeing your reading list as it grows!

    • Barry Sproston
      Posted January 18, 2017

      Thank’s Kelly. I know what you mean as there are some books I can just tear through in a few hours. I was once waiting for a train at Sydney station and smashed a book from start to finish. However, with some of the more technical books, it can be a bit of a challenge.

  • Paul and Carole
    Posted January 13, 2017

    Love a good book, but 52 in a year is a challenge, but a great challenge! Look forward to some inspiration for our next reads! #feetdotravel

    • Barry Sproston
      Posted January 18, 2017

      Yeah I agree it’s a challenge but will be worth it.

  • Nadine Smith (Scenes From Nadine)
    Posted January 10, 2017

    Wow! 52 books! One of my New Year’s resolutions is to finish 12 books this year — one book a month! But maybe I should aim for 52 as well! Great goal for the year!

    • Barry Sproston
      Posted January 10, 2017

      Great to hear so many people have set goals to read more. 12 books could work if they were longer books. The challenge is all about stepping up and getting after it. As long as your reading that’s the main thing.

  • Julia
    Posted January 9, 2017

    I must say, I am truly inspired. I love reading but never punted how many books I read. I do keep track on Good Reads, or at least I try to. So, I will join you on this #52books journey!

    • Barry Sproston
      Posted January 10, 2017

      Great stuff Julia. I think joining me would be a 100% great idea!

  • Jujevyle
    Posted January 8, 2017

    I am impressed. I agree with how you view reading. I hope and try to be a voracious reader as well hoping it will work this year. Reading is also the best way to know everything.

    • Barry Sproston
      Posted January 9, 2017

      Well here’s to 2017 and voracious reading. I find the key to finishing a book is to keep the momentum up. The worst thing is to read 1/2 a book, put its down, then try and get back into it a few months later.

  • loudy
    Posted January 8, 2017

    Great resolutions 🙂

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