You know those people who could win the Olympic gold medal for speed-reading? The ones who seem to glance at their textbooks in school and still get an A?

I’m definitely not one of them, and never have been. I’m the type to savour books, lingering over each sentence until it’s firmly embedded in my consciousness like a stamp.

Considering my slow reading style, you may think it an unlikely (if not an impossible) task to read 52 books this year, one for each week. While you’re probably right, I’m convinced that reading this many books in 2017 is sure to provide some benefit—whether I hit my target or not.

Although savouring books definitely has its advantages, there’s something to be said for pushing yourself to read more and read widely. I first came up with the idea of reading 52 books in 2017 while doing research on famous authors and how they achieved bestseller status.

Bestselling author (and avid reader), Nicholas Sparks

Soon, I found myself on Nicholas Sparks’ website, reading about his early life as a writer. He credited his writing skills to having developed the habit of reading over 100 books a year since the age of 15.

I couldn’t believe that Sparks had read so many books, and I began to delve into the number of books other authors had read over their lifetimes. It was a similar number for plenty of other authors, and judging by an Ask Reddit post, even most non-writers were averaging 30 to 50 books per year.

This was a serious wake up call for me. Up until that point, I had been reading about 12 books a year, and I knew I needed to pick up the pace. I wanted to really improve my writing skills, expand my knowledge base and learn new things, and I was quickly learning that I needed to feed my brain with more books if I was going to reach my goals (in this lifetime).

Once I had heard about the number of books others were reading in a year, I learned more about the benefits of reading a wide variety of styles, perspectives and genres. Not only can reading as many books as you have time for make you a smarter person, but it can also shift the way you think, the way you see the world, and your general mindset—sort of like positive brainwashing!

Reading works your brain in ways that watching TV or movies simply don’t. Growing my vocabulary and improving my writing skills are obvious benefits of picking up a book or two, but I also find that reading transports me to another world in a completely sensory experience involving taste, touch, smell, sight and sound, while movies really only cover the last two.

My intention with this reading challenge is simply to read, read, read, and keep reading until I feel like I’ve changed as a person. Whether it’s fiction or non-fiction, each book has something valuable to say, and there’s always something to be gained from reading.

Every book will take you on a different journey, and even though you may not leave your living room couch in the process, you’ll always come out the other side with a fresh take on life. No one will give me a medal for finishing this reading challenge, and chances are that I won’t even finish it at all, but the gifts I’ll receive by trying will be far more precious than any prize I could win.

Reading frequently and widely will grant me the courage to think differently, the ability to open my mind to new perspectives and a chance to step outside of myself without stepping outside my front door. On top of all of this, I’ll have fun!

Have you ever done a reading challenge? How many books are you aiming to read this year?