A Mighty Feat of Reading

This UW student set a goal of finishing a book a day for an entire year — and surpassed it.

Kyla Vaughn sits in front of bookshelves full of books

Vaughan: “I believe that reading about other people is the best way to gain empathy.” Bryce Richter

For calendar year 2021, UW student Kyla Vaughan ’22 set a seemingly impossible goal for herself: read 365 books — one per day.

On December 3, she finished book 365.

Then she just kept going. By December 31, she’d read 392 books, an average of 7.5 per week.

“I guess I did it partly for the bragging rights, but also because I believe that reading about other people is the best way to gain empathy,” says Vaughan, who graduated in May. “It was a joy to live the lives of so many characters this past year.”

Vaughan, a double-major in English and history, attributes her accomplishment to being a naturally fast reader and making reading a priority. She once timed herself and found she could cover 50 pages in about 15 minutes, though she doesn’t consider herself a speed reader. (She doesn’t skim.)

To make time for reading, she put television, movies, and social media on the backburner. “When people asked me if I saw the latest movie, the answer was always no.”

Vaughan worked two customer-service desk jobs on campus, both of which allowed employees to read or do homework during downtime. Her text-heavy majors also helped. She read 30 of the books for classes, although that still left more than 360 other books. Most of those came from her favorite genres of fantasy, romance, and science fiction.

Vaughan rated all 392 books on a scale of one to five stars. Her favorite: As If on Cue, a young-adult novel by Marisa Kanter.

Vaughan’s father remembers his daughter setting a class record in first grade for reading the most books in one year — more than 1,000.

“I think her love of books comes from the fact that her mother read to her while she was still in the womb,” says Jim Vaughan, “and we read to her every day while she was very young.”

Vaughan’s goal for 2022 is a departure.

“I want to read less,” she says. “I want to focus more on quality and less on quantity.”

Published in the Summer 2022 issue

Tags: books, Student life, Students

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