Do reading goals suck?

Ahh, the beginning of a new year. The time when resolutions, goals, and dreams come together as a to-do list. For some readers, this is the time when challenges emerge, TBR books get organized, and classics are dusted off, all to accomplish an end goal.

  • To read more classic literature.
  • To reduce their TBR piles.
  • To pick up more books from different genres.
  • To read more diversely.

And the list can go on and on. Of course, that’s just one side of the book community. The other simple receives the new year as a new date and continues reading whatever they want, whenever they want it.

Why is it some people love setting reading goals for themselves while others hate it? Do reading goals actually suck the life out of reading? I’ve seen myself siding with both types of readers at one point or another, so I thought it would be an interesting discussion topic for today.


It’s completely understandable why some people hate setting reading goals. They add a certain pressure to which books you have to pick up or even how many. When the year (or your chosen timeline) is coming to an end, reading can become stressful.

You have to read 5 books by the end of December? How about you stress about it while watching Netflix instead?

You might feel like you can’t reach your goal and motivation leaves you entirely. Cue the reading slump. And the worse part? If you don’t accomplish your goals, you feel terrible and reading might be the last thing you want to do now.


On the other side, reading goals can actually offer great motivation. In this case, the pressure I was talking about before becomes a booster and it pushes you to accomplish what you want.

Don’t you just hate when the Goodreads challenge says “You are X books behind schedule?” Don’t you want to prove it wrong? I know I do. I love seeing the “You are right on track!” message, I can’t help it. That doesn’t mean that I read just to see that little message displayed there, obviously. In the end, reading is what’s important here. (But it really does feel great to be right on track).


As I said before, I’ve been on both sides here. There have been times when reading goals inspire me. Then, other times, they’ve taken the life out of reading. That’s because they don’t always work the same and I think it depends on our attitude when we envision them.

  • We could decide to do anything to achieve them.
  • Or we could decide not to take them too seriously and don’t let them rule our choices.
  • We could set very specific goals, like a number of books to read for the year.
  • Or we could just have a general idea and never settle on a number.

I tried a challenge two years in a row where I had to read 25 books, each from a different category. It included rereading a novel from childhood, a true crime book, a non fiction one, etc. The first year was amazing and I was really motivated by it. The second year, I struggled with it. I never felt like reading a true crime book, but I wanted to achieve that goal so badly that I stressed over it. In the end, I read it, but it took a long time and it felt forced – like required reading. The problem was how I approached it.


In the end, I love setting reading goals. I set a specific number of books I want to read on the Goodreads challenge, as well as having my own personal goals:

  • Read more own voices.
  • Read more books in Spanish, especially from Latin America.
  • Read more non fiction, plays, poetry, and short story collections.
  • Read from all around the world.

What’s important for me is to take them with a grain of salt. I won’t stress like the other time if I don’t accomplish them. If they change during the year, which is bound to happen, I won’t mind. Our reading styles change, not only relating to which books we enjoy or not, but to how many we can read, too. We might get busy unexpectedly or read more than ever. Either way, it’s okay.

So, do reading goals suck? Nope, they just work differently every time.

What do you feel about reading goals?  Do you have any for 2017?

84 thoughts on “Do reading goals suck?

  1. I like to set a Goodreads challenge, though I cheat a bit. I set something very doable then increase it, again to something doable when I hit it. I have an overall goal of reading more classics but never set anything strict. I like to read for fun, not because I feel I have to.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I used to do that with the Goodreads challenge too! But usually I ended up lowering it because I set pretty unrealistic goals haha. It’s great that they let you edit the number whenever you please, right?
      I like to make some more stricts goals sometimes or else I know I won’t really do them. But always keeping the fun. As soon as it feels like a task, I dismiss them.


  2. Great discussion of this topic! It took me a few years to come to that conclusion – ‘they work differently every time’. I’ve finally come up with a goal setting system that suits me. I have general goals that I like to be aware of (ex. ‘read more books by Indigenous authors’), so that I pay closer attention what I’m choosing to read, but I don’t really focus on numbers.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That’s awesome! I think that’s the style that suits most people because it’s stress-free. I need a bigger push sometimes, so that’s why I like numbers, too. But sometimes I do general goals, like reading more classics. I don’t want to force that or it will feel like required reading all over again!


    2. Jenna, I’m in the same boat as yours. I’ve never set a time limit when it comes to reading a book. It might take me a month or a week or a day or even a few hours to finish a book-regardless of its size. Numbers matter not. The peace and relaxation of the mind does.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I actually really like reading challenges! They ~challenge~ me to read more, both qualitatively and quantitatively. The goodreads one helped me to read more books than even, and some of them, like the popsugar one, helped me branch out and read different genre that I wouldn’t touch otherwise. Like you said, it goes both ways. So while I enjoy doing the popsugar one, it puts too much pressure on me that I didn’t do it again the following year. I guess is picking the one that suits your taste and goals for the year. If you want to read more diversely, go with the diverse reading challenge. Or if you want to read more contemporary, then join the contemporary one. Also don’t set your goals too high, it will only stressed you out 😀

    Liked by 2 people

      1. You are most welcome, Esther. I don’t usually reblog other bloggers’ posts, but this one struck a chord with me. I love the classics and want to read more but I never make the time; I’ve only read four in the last three years 😦 Another of my reading goals is to read Don Quixote in Spanish. Alas, since my February is already packed, the earliest I can start the goals is March. Keeping my fingers crossed 🙂

        I always look to reduce my TBR, but at this point, with so many books, it’s more like a wish list 😉

        Excellent post, Esther!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thank you so much! I’m really glad you enjoyed the post 😀
        I have a copy of Don Quixote sitting on my shelf, but besides excerpts, I’ve never really tried reading it. It’s quite complicated, even though I’m a native Spanish speaker. It’s something I’d like to do someday, though. I’m the same as you with classics!


  4. I participated in the Goodreads challenge last year with 20 books I believe it was and I completely stressed out it. I love reading but didn’t have the time so anytime I was on Goodreads and saw how behind I was it just ticked me off. This year (luckily) life is not quite so full so I upped the challenge to 52 and am actually ahead. I feel like success with a challenge motivating you or completing it depends greatly on your own attitude. Sometimes you can’t entirely control your attitude because of outside stressors but can’t let it effect the next attempt.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I totally understand. I’m super behind on the challenge this year and it’s stressful to see that whenever I login into Goodreads, but at the same time I don’t really care if I make it because I want to enjoy what I read and not how much I read. That’s why a goal in numbers can be a bit stressful but also motivational. It definitely depends on how you take it. So as you said, it’s important not to let life get you down and keep trying 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I really like reading challenges so haaaave to start a reading challenge for this year 😮 🙂 I personally don’t think that reading challenges and goals take the fun out of reading- as long as you enjoy reading (actually you don’t even have to enjoy reading-you just have to read books you think are interesting and worth reading) So reading goals are for everyone! Spread the words (or spread the books) 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I set a reading goal of 30 books for the first time ever this year and it has pushed me to read. So far, I haven’t felt pressured, but again this is the very first time I’ve set a goal relating to reading so everything is exciting and new for me! 😛

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I’ve never set a reading goal before except from the one on Goodreads. And usually I choose a number that I know I can achieve, haha. I feel like reading goals limit my freedom to read whatever and whenever I want. Although I can see how people want to set goals for more motivation.

    Ahhh, I’ve missed your discussions Esther! You always have the most interesting topics 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much! ❤ I'm glad you enjoy them.
      I completely understand. For me, they are for motivation, but I can see how they can be a restraint for others. Right now, even though I've set some goals for myself, I'm not really paying attention to them because things have been hectic. I'm not stressed out about it because that would take the fun out of it. I'm simply hoping to catch up to them later on or maybe leave them for next year.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You’re welcome! 🙂

        Yeah, I guess the key is to not let it control your entire reading activity. But I get pressured too easily so it’s hard for me. It’s good that you don’t let yourself get stressed out about it 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! It is hard, because plans can change as soon as we make them. It might have to do with our mood, our reading tastes, the free time we have… No matter what it is, things seem to keep on changing and keeping up goals can be challenging. It’s what’s been happening to me!

      Liked by 1 person

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