Monday, January 7, 2019

Five Tips for Setting (and Reaching) Your 2019 GoodReads Goal

It's that time of year again: time to set a new reading goal for the annual GoodReads Reading Challenge.

Within the bookish corners of the Internet, the GoodReads Reading Challenge is THE metric for measuring one's literary year.  Meeting or exceeding one's annual reading goal is a point of pride while falling short can cast a pall over a year's literary highlights.

Personally speaking, I have met my goal seven of the eight times I have participated in the Reading Challenge.  These successes (and notable failure-- I see you, 2013!) have given me some insights into mediating my lofty literary ambitions and my full-time-job-having-adult-lady-who-wants-to-go-to-bed-at-eight reality.

One. | Start where you finished.  There is little difference between December 31st and January 1st.  In all likelihood, the circumstances that shaped your 2018 reading will still be influencing your early 2019 reading as well.  As such, setting a goal that is close to the number of books you read last year is a safe place to start.  Historically, you know that you can read *this many* books in a year; meeting or exceeding last year's number is a safe place to start.

Two. | Goals are a continuum, not an end point.  There are a lot of people (myself included) who set ambitious Reading Goals in January only to have a mild coronary when we revisit them a few months later.  You should never be afraid of either raising or lowering your goal; if the Reading Challenge you set in January seems unreasonable in April, the problem is the goal . . . not you.  Goals should be a stretch that you achieve with a concerted effort over time; they should be neither insurmountably difficult or ridiculously easy.

Three. | Do not be afraid to DNF a book that you are not enjoying.  There is no faster route to a reading slump that chaining yourself to a book you hate.  Your time is a valuable, finite resource and you shouldn't waste it on books that aren't enriching your life.  Toss it in the donate pile and move on.

Four. | Try reading more than one book at a time.  I am a notorious mood reader and usually have multiple books that I am working my way through at any given time.  Sometimes I feel like tucking into a novel, other times I may want to dip back into nonfiction, or I might even tuck into a short story collection.  Having multiple books in my "currently reading" pile affords me greater flexibility as a reader because I always have a book to match my mood (of which there are many).

Five. | Reconsider your metrics.  As devoted as I am to the Reading Challenge, I think it is also important to remember that there are other measures of your reading successes beyond your annual goal.  Truly, the quality of what you are reading is more important than the quantity of your reading.  When you get stuck into your 2019 reading, think about the micro-goals that you would like to achieve along the way.  For instance, this year I would like to read more work by authors of color, more works in translation, and make more mindful reading selections.  Consider the sort of books you would like to read, not just how many books you would like to read.

What are your reading goals for 2019?  What metrics are you using to track your 2019 reads?

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