There are many dangerous places a journalist can go. A war zone, a bushfire, a flood-riddled town, a Donald Trump press conference or even the corridors of Parliament House during the near-annual ritual of a leadership spill.
But for me, the most dangerous place for me to step into, without a doubt, is a bookshop.
While you may not injure yourself when in a bookshop, aside from a paper cut or two, they're dangerous in other ways.
As a child who spent far too many hours at preschool hidden away in the book corner, one cannot just go into a bookshop "just for a browse". Instead, you end up leaving with your wallet several hundred dollars lighter, arms clutching several bags of books to add to a seemingly never-ending pile of what to read next.
Yet despite my love of books, work, life and the stresses of the day-to-day have got in the way, and recent years saw the number of books I read go down. Rather than set a 2019 new year's resolution to simply read more, I set myself an ambitious challenge: read 52 books in 52 weeks.
While the challenge itself could have technically been achieved in a matter of days, thanks to the help of picture books, only fully-formed novels would count towards the goal. It may have seemed like a tall order, but after reaching the 52 book goal with a few weeks to spare, the challenge was definitely achievable. Here was what I learned in the process.
Time is everything
The first thing I learned is that you have to make time for reading, and actually commit to it.
It can be easy to read through several books during the summer holidays when the biggest worry that day is when to go to the beach and is it possible to have leftover Christmas ham for the third week in a row.
But after adjusting back into reality and getting back into the regular rhythm of work, that time for reading can go out the door.
For me, setting aside a dedicated time each day for reading was a key way to help reach the goal. On average, it takes just eight hours to finish reading a 400-page book, or when put into perspective in the challenge, a little more than an hour a day.
If there was one thing about how I went about the challenge that I would change, it would be to abandon the books I never got into early.
When you think about how long you spend scrolling through your Facebook and Instagram feed or binge-watch whatever new show came out on Netflix, it's time in the day that can easily be made up from other activities.
Life's too short for bad books
Every book has a certain moment. A moment that happens in the plot that tips the reader from just simply reading the book to being completely engrossed in it and wanting to find out what happens next, no matter what. It can come in the first 100 pages or first 50 pages, or even the first chapter. Some of the very best can happen on the very first page.
Yet for some people, those moments never truly come in certain books.
If there was one thing about how I went about the challenge that I would change, it would be to abandon the books I never got into early, rather than try and slug it out and set the book-a-week deadline back further and having to play catch up.
Just because a book's an award winner doesn't automatically mean its going to be great, looking at you last year's Booker Prize winner Milkman, and even though it was one of the shortest books I reads this year in terms of page numbers, it felt like one of the longest.
If you are stumped finding the next good thing to read, websites such as Good Reads are a good starting point to get tailor-made recommendations based on books you have loved. Recommendations from friends and family are also a good starting point.
That's not to say you should abandon every book you find that isn't an instant classic, but when it starts to feel like a chore, it may be time to start something new.
Variety and old favourites are key
If you're going to commit to 52 books in a year, you're going to need to break it up somehow.
As much as hard-hitting crime novels or biographies are great on their own, an entire year of it might be overdoing it, unless they're your thing, which by all means go for it.
Moving between genres as much as possible was a great way to break up the challenge into chunks, and not just face the daunting 52 books.
You also don't need to load up on new books for the challenge and break the bank in the process. Sometimes you just need the comfort of an old and familiar friend, books that you know inside and out.
They're the books that made you fall in love with reading in the first place, all those years ago. It's the feeling you get from those books that make you want to undertake reading challenges such as this, in the hopes that there's a new book out there that can be added to the collection of old favourites.
To say the last 12 months of reading was challenging is an understatement, but will I take up the same challenge in 2020 to get that same joy out of reading again? You bet.