It’s an honor to welcome you to the first, long-promised monthly challenge! Each month this year, I want to push you (and me) out of our routines and try something new. This can be physically challenging, mentally challenging, intellectually challenging – doesn’t matter. The goal is to try out new things, form new habits, broaden your horizon or learn something new! In the end, your goal should be to challenge yourself, to push you forward, and get out of your rut.
I’ve experienced myself that you can always challenge yourself, but it can be hard sometimes to come up with a proper new challenge. It can be hard setting the bar too high or too low. It can be difficult to stay committed and finish the challenge if nobody knows about your challenge and you’re only competing against yourself. For this reason, I created this public challenge for you to join me in a monthly challenge to advance and become our best selves.
We’re starting off with a fairly easy challenge this month:
Read a book for the next 28 days.
That’s it! Just pick a book (preferably non-fiction, but hey, your decision!) and read it for the next 28 days. Ideally, you will be finished on March 1st, and you can look back on an awesome month of learning new things!
As mentioned in the introduction of this article, it can be difficult to stay committed if you don’t tell anybody about your challenge. Pick an accountability partner (or multiple!) by telling your friends or colleagues about your commitment. This is why I chose social media to spread the word and give everyone (yes, you too!) the possibility to commit to this challenge publicly.
On top of that, why not nominate your accountability partners in a retweet to give them the same opportunity to join you in the #ReadABookChallenge?
What about you?
So you’ve been nominated by a dear friend, colleague, or maybe by me? Great! If not:
I hereby nominate you, dear reader, to join us in the 28-day #ReadABookChallenge in February.
Do you accept the challenge? If so, proudly declare your challenge as accepted, tell everybody the book you’re going to read during the next month, and nominate up to three other people to join you in the challenge!
“Why should I do that?”
- You automatically assign your accountability partners! They will check on your progress during the month, and you can check in on their progress. Not only this, you can motivate each other or challenge each other who’s finished earlier!
- This is a great way to get a few friends to dust off the ol’ bookshelf and get them to commit to something they probably haven’t done in a while. (“Remember that book I gifted you three years ago, Nominee XYZ?” 😉)
- You don’t just learn about the book that you are reading, but you can share your experience on social media or share it with your three friends you nominated! By this, you don’t get to know the learnings of one book but four or even more books! Maybe you will even get a great book recommendation for the next month? 😉
F*** rules! Do what you like! I don’t care if you’ve already started the book before, if you’re speed-reading, slow-reading, if you’re listening to it on Audible or if it’s the original version or translated to your native language. The only thing I’d care about is that you do it consistently for the next 28 days. It’s not about winning the race but about showing up each day and read (or listen to) a couple of pages and learn something new!
“Wouldn’t it be great to be gifted? In fact… It turns out that choices lead to habits. Habits become talents. Talents are labeled gifts. You’re not born this way; you get this way.”-Seth Godin
What should I read?
If you have absolutely no idea what might be a good read, here is a short list of recommendations from me:
- Atomic Habits – James Clear
One of the best books I’ve read in quite some time. It’s very inspiring with lots of scientific insights into human behavior and what we do unconsciously every day.
- Deep Work – Cal Newport
Very interesting approach to modern society and a quite different look towards us information workers and how we have unlearned to work without frequent interruptions.
- Born To Run – Christopher McDougall
Hilarious story about ultrarunners, how shoe manufacturers caused most of our injuries when running/jogging, and why the Homo Sapiens might be “born to run” and has possibly outlived the Neanderthals. (This book is also entertaining if you’re not into running. But maybe you will be after reading it?)
- The Culture Code – Daniel Coyle
This is actually one of my next books, but my girlfriend highly recommended it (and many other people! Look at the press reviews)! It’s about the chemistry of highly successful, functional groups and is extremely interesting now that almost all our professional life is currently done remotely.
If you want to go more techy, there’s plenty to choose from, and you can’t really do something wrong. I’d recommend something like:
- Test-Driven Development: By Example – Kent Beck
- Extreme Programming Explained – Kent Beck
- Clean Code / Clean Coder / Clean Architecture – Robert C. Martin
- Pragmatic Programmer – David Thomas, Andrew Hunt
- Refactoring – Martin Fowler
- Symfony 5: The Fast Track – Fabien Potencier
If that’s not enough, check out this list with additional great programming books: https://www.best-books.dev/list/best-programming-books
Me, personally, I will read “Rapid Development” by Steve McConnell this month. A 680-page book… so about 25 pages a day. Yep, sounds doable! 🙂
How to get the most out of your book
There is already so much great content out there that I can only refer you to some additional material if you’re interested in how to get the most out of the book your reading:
Be an Active Reader
Work with your book
Preview, purpose, summary, next actions:
My personal advice
On top of the aforementioned tips, I wanted to add these thoughts:
- If you’re reading an ebook (e.g., Kindle), highlight the most intriguing sections! You can export a summary of all your highlights at the end in several different formats.
- If you do export a summary or if you take notes while reading the book, store your notes somewhere where you can find them again. As you might know: I love using Notion for many things! This includes a reading list with books that I want to read, books that I am currently reading/listening to, and books I already read. After I’ve finished a book, I export my highlights and notes into the Notion entry of this book, add my personal rating and additional thoughts about it. Imagine the number of insights and ideas you collected when you do this for some months or years! Of course, this can be done non-digitally, too!
- Even if you do none of the above, talk about the book! Let someone else know if the book was a good read and what you have learned from the book. This doesn’t only help the other person, but it will structure thoughts about the book and strengthen the ideas in your head.
“When one teaches, two learn.” –Robert Heinlein
I wish you all a very pleasant experience with this challenge. But not too pleasant, it’s still supposed to be a challenge. 😅 (If the challenge is too easy for you, you are more than welcome to contact me and write a guest post with a book review!)
So let’s grab a coffee and start reading!
PS: Stay tuned for the March challenge. This will be a cool one 😎