Eight Reading Goals To Consider For 2021

I spend most of each January setting goals for the coming year. I feel like January is a month for planning, rather than instant resolutions made New Year’s Day. It seems to me that quick resolutions tend to fizzle out before month’s end. I just like to take my time setting up my plan for the coming months.

There are lots of ways to set goals, and reading goals are no different. Why set a reading goal? I’ve found that having some kind of structure in place leads to more enjoyment when I read. (And, it’s part of my job as a reviewer to organize my reading life.) Check out some different approaches to reading goals.

  • Reading a certain number of books: This is one of the most common goals out there. So what’s the magic number? That has to do with how much time you want to dedicate to reading, how fast you read, what type of books you want to read, and many other factors. One person’s 12 books-in–year goal could take as much effort as reading 50 books would be for someone else.

  • Reading a Specific Genre: Maybe you have a specific genre of books that you really want to get into in a deeper way. I love cozy mysteries and could read them all day. Maybe you want to get a survey of a genre to get to know what it’s all about. Or, you could choose a genre you’re less familiar with and want to learn more about.

  • Completing a Series: Some authors have lengthy series’ that can take awhile to work through. I have several series I want to get through at some point (Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum, Joanne Fluke’s Hannah Swensen, and Sue Grafton’s Alphabet series).

  • An Author’s Complete Works: Some authors are more prolific than others (Terry Pratchett, Sue Grafton, Stephen King, most romance writers), so this may be a more lofty goal depending on who you want to focus on. This goal could be a fun way to check out a relatively new author with a smaller catalog.

  • Debut Authors Only: Who doesn’t like a shiny new author? This goal would give you the chance to get in on the ground floor with a variety of authors in as many genre’s as you like.

  • Book Club Picks: There are lots of book clubs out there, from your neighborhood or church group to online groups (Modern Mrs. Darcy, Reese’s Book Club, and of course the grandmother of them all, Oprah’s Book Club). This can direct you to a lot of new and interesting books.

  • Read What You Own: As the owner of many bookshelves full of works I haven’t read yet, I considered this as my goal for this year, but chickened out. I hate the idea of a year of no new books. But for some people, this could be a relief, shopping your own home bookstore.

and finally…

  • All Paper/Digital/Audio: The format of a book changes how you take in the story. With paper books, you have the joy of turning pages, enjoying the cover image and jacket copy, and having something to hold in your hand. Digital books offer convenience (hundreds of books in one compact container), the ability to read in the dark (I know, weird, but this is what sold me on e-readers), and font/size adjustments. Audiobooks bring back the joy of being read to (like when you were a kid). The narrator can bring a lot to a story, and you attend to general tasks or exercise while you listen.

Since I review books for this blog, my goals have an interesting combination. Overall, I want to read at least 60 books this year, divided up each month in the following way:

  • Church book club selection
  • Modern Mrs. Darcy Book Club selection
  • NetGalley review book (3 to 4 of these)
  • Home/Organization/Non-fiction book
  • Audiobooks (2 to 3 of these, could fulfill a book club selection)

For January, I’ve read:

  • The Dress Shop on King Street (audio, church book club)
  • The Late Bloomer’s Club (audio, MMD book club)
  • Killer Kung Pao (NetGalley)
  • Death by Chocolate Snickerdoodle (NetGalley)
  • Paw and Order (NetGalley)
  • The Lazy Genius Way (non-fiction)
  • Welcome Home (non-fiction)
  • Why Not Me? (audio)

I feel like I’m off to a good start, and I work nights as a news writer for a media company, so I can listen to audiobooks while I work. I have three other audiobooks lined up, but I won’t finish them until early next month. My favorite audiobook sources are the Libby app from my local library and Libro.fm, where you choose your favorite indy bookstore to support.

Do you set any yearly reading goals? Are yours similar to the ones listed here? Or are they something else all together? Share in the comments below. We’ll be checking in with this topic every month.

Happy reading!

— Amy

Are Your Reading and Writing Goals Holding You Back?

Are you setting new reading and writing goals for the new year? As January pushes forward, it can seem like the pressure is on to achieve new things. After all, there are only 357 (leap year, yeah!) days left in the year and there is so much to accomplish.

Planning goals for the next 12 month can be a great practice. When you’re a writer and an avid reader, thoughts turn to goals in those areas. It’s a great time to think about what writing projects you want to tackle and how many books you want to try to read (or what kind). But are those goals encouraging or restraining?

I’m all for goals. I have plans to finish my book, continue to improve my blog, and read at least 60 books. I’ve broken down those large goals into smaller chunks, as experts recommend, and am using my planner to set smaller tasks that should lead to the accomplishment of the finished mystery novel, successful blog, and pored-over pile of books. But breaking big dreams down into small tasks can sometimes make the days ahead feel like a slog toward some big, disembodied dream. Yes, it’s important to narrow dreams into tasks so that you can accomplish big things. But I have to wonder, does having a goal of finishing two books a week take all the joy out of reading? Does it start to feel like a relentless march that leads to something that is abstract to the point of being nonsensical?

I’m not arguing against goals and planning and chunks and tasks. They have their place. But I thinks it’s important to not lose the forest for the trees. We as writers can focus so much on putting out pages that we lose the big picture and end up with a collection of words that don’t pull together into a cohesive work. As readers, it’s easy to become attached to a list of the types of books you want to read or the quantity of books you want to finish. There is validity to this type of goal-setting, but not at the expense of the joy of losing yourself in a novel for hours. The weight of constant tasks can be overwhelming for some, as much as they are encouraging for others.

I thinks it’s all about balance. This year I’m trying a new approach. I’m setting goals (finish that novel!) and breaking them down into smaller tasks.(Pages make chapters, chapters make books) But I’m also trying to take joy in each task, keeping in mind how they fit in with my bigger dreams. I picture the potential cover for my published mystery while working out the suspects who appear in each chapter. I read books that fit some general criteria (upcoming books to review, some mysteries, a little non-fiction, Christian fiction, and some romance novels for flavor), while staying open to other books that show up on my radar. Being excited about what you’re doing is as important to productivity as churning out chapters (written or read).

How do you view annual goals? Are they encouraging or confining? Does breaking down a dream into small tasks feel helpful or like drudgery? Comment below and share your thoughts.