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.
THE PRESSURE OF READING GOALS
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.
THEY CAN MOTIVATE YOU
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).
THEY DON’T ALWAYS WORK THE SAME
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.
GOALS CAN CHANGE
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.