Goodreads Goals, Reading Records, and the End of the Year
So, it's almost December. We have a little over thirty days left to scramble around and scrape up a couple more books to fulfill our reading goals for a feeling of self satisfaction or bragging rights on Twitter. Maybe you want to read 100 books or maybe it was 50 or even 5. Different people have wildly different goals with their reading. Sometimes there are also more specific goals like reading more diversely or reading a certain number of books across a couple genres. Just like with every other resolution made in January, everyone aims high and few think about it again until the end of November when we start thinking about how the year will glow in our memories and achievement list when the year rolls over. On the other hand, I think December is a good time to define what success with these goals means.
While I don't use Goodreads cause I've never quite gotten its interface and chronically forget my password, I do keep a detailed spreadsheet with all kinds of random data on the book I read. I track my ratings, the genres, the number of pages, the dates I read the books, and a couple other things. (One year I timed how long it took me to read every single book, but I spent that summer squarely planted on the couch reading, so it was more practical then than now). But this obviously leaves me with a running number as well, and now that I've tracked my reading for almost four years, I have a pretty good idea of how many I've usually read at this point every year. To be honest, I'm behind. At the start. of the year I was ahead of myself, and it's sort of fallen off. When I first noticed, I panicked. This year was supposed to be my best reading year yet. I thought I might finally beat my average of 120/130 books and make it to 150. That's not going to happen. And I'm making peace with that.
As I continued looking through the spreadsheets, I started to realize a few things. One was that I took longer gaps between picking up books, and I don't think that's a bad thing. I've gotten more selective with what I've picked up this year, but I've also started relishing in a book hangover. Sometimes, even when you've turned the last page, you still want to sit in that world a little longer and mull it over. I found it distracting to pick up a new book, and, if I hadn't given the first book enough time, it would feel like the new words were like water bouncing off my plastic-wrapped brain. This is a new experience for me as a reader. I used to read like four or five books a week, but it also left me with some weeks where I couldn't read at all. In a way, I got stuck in a quantity vs. quality loop where it just mattered if I crammed the pages into my brain. I'm not like that anymore. I've realized it's not a competition. I don't even have Goodreads mocking me for being behind. I also don't read multiple books at once anymore. I probably will when I start school again, but for the last six or so months, I haven't been multitasking between my books and school books which has put me behind.
The other, bigger, takeaway I found was that the books I read this year, I rated much higher. I started recording the books I DNF'd, and, if I added them to my reading list, I'd be ahead of where I was last year. But, now, I'm pretty committed to only reading books I'm going to love. I think enjoying the reading is more important than just having done it for me, so I'm honestly pretty pleased with myself. I've also read in more genres and about more experiences than in years past. I'm still probably going. to hit 100 books this year or come close, but I think the real win is to continue to push my reading boundaries and find the books that I genuinely love. I never even set a concrete goal for this year. So if you're realizing that you might have been too ambitious this year, look for the little places you succeeded. Maybe you read more books written by women or people of color or members of the LGBTQ community than the year before, maybe you've enjoyed more of them than last year, or maybe you've simply read more books than you would've if you hadn't set the high goal for yourself. Because, at the end of the day, we're all reading to learn and have fun and enjoy ourselves. All that said, good luck to everyone about to embark on a reading marathon with their few days off!
Links of Interest:
Foul Is Fair: Review Here
Planes, Trains, and Books: Here
Crying Laughing: Review Here
The Writing Process: Here