Setting Reading Goals

Stack of old books

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When I woke up on January 1st, the first thing I did was set my 2015 Goodreads Reading Challenge goal (okay, so I really had to pee, but after that, I swear, this is what I did). After topping my original 52 book goal by a whopping 33 extra books, I wasn’t sure what to aim for in 2015.

Should I make it 86 so I could say I read more books than I did last year? Or aim again for 52, so that anything more would make me feel extra accomplished?

It would be easy to set the bar low; “Yes, of course I reached my goal of reading one book this year!”. There’d be no way to fail. But since when did reading become about failing or “winning” a challenge? I read because I enjoy reading. Who cares what number of books I read?

You might be surprised to hear that I did end up setting a number for the Goodreads Challenge, however; I stuck with 52. Ilike challenging myself, and honestly, I need something to motivate me, to hold me accountable or else I will let excuses catch up with me as I claim I’m “too busy” to read one chapter before bed. But reading shouldn’t be a grueling, bitter race. It should be fun, it should be relaxing, it should be thoughtful, it should be — above all else — magical.

Numbers aren’t the only way to organize your reading goals, however. This year, why don’t you try reading:

1. All of the unread books on your shelf: I’ve got a stack of books that I’ve been “meaning to read” for ages. It’s time to crack one open.

2. A new genre: Break out of your comfort zone and try something new. If you’re usually a reader of fiction, make it a goal to read one non-fiction book this year.

3. An old favorite: Sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in all of the new releases, but this year try making time to curl up with a book you’ve been meaning to re-read.

4. Books as a part of a challenge: Pop Sugar and Bringing Up Burns — in addition to other blogs and websites, I’m sure — have handy little checklists to serve as your guide as you go on a sort of reading ‘scavenger hunt’. Like reading a new genre, this is a great way to branch out from your normal book tendencies and try something new.

Don’t limit yourself with a number; make 2015 about reading what you love and pushing yourself out of your comfort zone. A number isn’t worth losing your sanity (and zeal for reading) over.

This post first appeared in the January 2015 email newsletter.
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What are your 2015 reading goals?

  • I always put 100 books as my reading goal for the year. It’s doable – not too easy or too hard. I can reach it if I read consistently throughout the year, but I have to keep reading.

  • Good luck with your reading goals! I joined the Goodreads Challenge as well (I think I set mine around 15 books), but I’m inspired by the additional goals you have for yourself. After I finish Wild, I’m going to look through the books I have and read the ones I haven’t read first before going to library or bookstore.

    • I think that’s my ultimate goal: finish what I have before I go buy any more, haha.

  • Amy

    I had the same debate with myself when I set my reading goals. I aimed for 50 last year and read 68, so I thought I should go higher this year, although I’m a bit worried I’ll be playing catch up all year – especially since my first book of the year was The Luminaries. It’s 832 pages and I’m only half way through!

    • Big books suck when it comes to reading goals. But do your thing! Maybe count it in your head as two books?

  • Angela Wiebe

    I have two goals. The minimum number of books I want to read (80) and then my ultimate goal that would really make me happy (100). Last year I aimed for the same thing and hit 99 books. This year I am focusing on a different style of book then my usual so I am a little worried about hitting my goal. But I think if I can find an even balance it would be great.

    Good luck hitting your targets!!

    • Having a range like that sound like such a good idea! I hope you hit your ultimate goal!

  • I did end up setting a reading goal of 20 books on Goodreads, but I really love the way you look at it too. With my constant migraines and an almost 2 year old, I don’t have too much time for reading anymore but I really miss it. I have almost a whole bookcase filled with books I never read, so I’ve started moving them to the bottom section of my nightstand so I will have more of a chance of reading them

    • Life so easily gets in the way, but I wish you the best with your goal! Reading with kids around can be tough, I can imagine!

  • Kay

    I aimed lowish, and figure if I knock it out of the park then whoo!! But this way, it never turns reading into an obligatory task for me.

    • Obligatory tasks are never fun! Enjoy your reading 🙂

  • I like to set a number goal for myself, if only because that’s the easiest route to take, and I have to read a lot of the same genre of books. But reading this in Inklings—because I totally did!—got me thinking about how I can fit other books into my goal. More adult books, old favorites, genres outside of my comfort zone, etc. Now, to make it happen!

    • Yay! Honestly, I don’t usually do too much outside of number-related goals, because I tend to read somewhat of a variety, but even my “variety” is predictable and, really, I just need a motivator to read all of the unread books on my shelf. Happy reading!

  • This is the first year I’ve set a number goal for myself, but I’m not going to focus on it too much because I don’t want something fun turn into something stressful or feel like something I have to do!

    • The minute the number turns stressful, drop it and just focus on how much fun reading is! Sometimes a number or “goal” kills that joy, and that would be a shame!

  • This is the first year in a long time that I’m not setting a number for myself. I’ve noticed that when I set a book number I end up shying away from longer books. I’m hoping to just be a more well-rounded reader this year and am tracking some different things!

    • Ooh, didn’t think of it that way, but I could see how that might steer you away from longer books. Being a well-rounded reader is a great goal, though!

  • smbrink

    I’m still sticking with the goals that I originally emailed to you (making good progress on that POP Sugar list!), but have also came up with another interesting goal: I want to Instagram a picture of each book I read this year. Sounds random, but it’ll be a nice way to look back at all my reads + I love all the photos that end up in the #bookstagram feed!

    • i LOVE this idea! Maybe I’ll join in starting with my current books 🙂

      • smbrink

        Yay!! Can’t wait to see your photos on Insta 🙂

  • Great points! I need to set a number for myself to make me accountable, but I don’t want to set too high a number because I still want reading to be fun and nothing something I do just to hit that number. I definitely need to read all of the unread books in my room! The number is growing!
    ~Sara

    • It grows and never stops, it seems! I guess there are worse shopping habits to have, haha 🙂