Discussion: Annual Reading Goals – the Good, the Bad, & the Ugly

Discussion

Whether you’re a member of Goodreads, or other book-related websites and organizations, there’s a pretty good chance you’ve been asked or have come across various features that allow you to set reading goals each year.  These goals can vary significantly,  ranging from the highly specific “I want to read __ books in 2016” to something as general as “I want to read more historical fiction.”

But these goals, do they do more harm than good?  Instead of prompting us to read with increasing frequency, do they actually discourage us from the pastime?


I just love logging into Goodreads and immediately seeing exactly how far behind I am with my yearly reading challenge.  At the moment, I’m only a whopping 24 books behind schedule! In fact, by the time this is actually posted, I’ll likely be 25-26 books behind.  Yay?
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This isn’t anything out of the ordinary for me – it happens every single year, like clockwork.  And true panic only begins to set in during mid-July when that number of books that I’m behind schedule spikes into the twenties.  To avoid this inevitable onset of unpleasant emotions upon logging into Goodreads, I have three options moving forward:

  1. Stop logging into Goodreads altogether which, in all honesty, won’t be happening.
  2. Shamefully lower my reading goal to something more tolerable/realistic at this point in the year, simultaneously reducing the number of books that I am behind schedule. This would be even more embarrassing now that I’ve highlighted my original reading goal of 100 books throughout 2016.
  3. Completely demolish my social life, relationships, and general well-being in an attempt to maniacally make up for lost ground by reading every book within reach.  This would likely involve copious amounts of coffee, very little sleep, and complete elimination of social interaction, equating to a fairly miserable existence.  Picture Dewey’s 24 Hour Reading Challenge, minus the 24-hour time limit and the “fun” aspect.

I’m going to be completely frank and admit that none of these options are particularly appealing.  So that brings me back to my original question: why do I put myself through the psychological torment of setting annual reading goals? Are my goals really that unrealistic, or does the issue lie with the actual concept of reading goals?

Personally, I haven’t been able to come to a conclusion as to whether reading goals are all that they’re hyped up to be, let alone whether their benefits outweigh their detrimental effects.  Yes, it’s exciting to set a goal for yourself and watch yourself attain it, but then the question becomes do I push myself, or do I select something that I will definitively attain?  If I hypothetically set my reading goal to one book, it’ll be completed in a heartbeat, but there will be very little satisfaction or personal gratification afterward.  Conversely, if I designate an outrageous 10,000 books as my reading goal, I have no chance of attaining it, and a very pessimistic mindset can quickly ensue.

Therefore, I’ve found my reading goals to be most successful and beneficial when they consist of a healthy balance between these two extremes.  Through trial and error, I’ve found there to be a very fine line between overestimating and underestimating, both of which can significantly impact your outlook on and enjoyment of reading overall.


I’m curious, what did you designate as your reading goal(s) for 2016? How did you formulate this reading goal?  If you’re a Goodreads fanatic, how far behind/ahead of schedule are you (kudos to anyone who’s ahead, or even caught up!)?

What are your thoughts on annual reading goals in general?  Do you find that setting a reading goal encourages you to read, or does it have more of a negative connotation?

What is/was your 2016 Reading Goal

11-25 books

26-50 books

51-75 books

76-100 books

101-200 books

201-300 books

301+ books

pollcode.com free polls

 

Profile PictureOlivia
I am a freshman in college and an avid reader/reviewer, horseback rider, and graphic designer.  Since a young age, I have fostered a love of reading, beginning with my forays into the Nancy Drew series.  I’ve branched out significantly in my reading tastes since then, and my favorite genres include young adult, romance, mystery, and thriller.  I’m constantly trying to expand my horizons, however, so I do dabble in other genres.  While I’m not reading, I volunteer at a hippotherapy center and a veterinary clinic, practice agility with my dogs, play piano and guitar, and sketch.
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13 thoughts on “Discussion: Annual Reading Goals – the Good, the Bad, & the Ugly

  1. What have your Goodreads challenges been in the past? Is 100 normal for you or did you set a higher goal this year? There is no shame in not meeting it. Especially if you did challenge yourself to read more. I’m a firm believer in achievable goals. I’d much rather raise my goal than lower it just for my mental state but also just to feel accomplished.

    For me, I am super competitive and if I’m behind I try to work to meet the goal but I do know plenty of people who hate seeing that “behind schedule.” I think it all depends on you. Great discussion.

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    • My past Goodreads goals have been within the 60-85 book range, and I was readily able to complete those, so I decided to challenge myself to read 100. I knew it would be a bit of a reach from the very beginning, so in all honesty, I’m not surprised that I’ve fallen behind.

      I have a feeling your approach would have been a much better way to tackle this, setting a lower goal with the knowledge that I could always bump it up to something higher if I needed to.

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  2. setting reading goals are a great way to keep oneself motivated to keep reading. For a fact, I assign myself a reading goal at the start of the year because I want to change my habits of doing book slumps whenever school takes over my reading time. But if that reading goal is something that should hinder one person from enjoying the experience of plowing through books, why bother stressing oneself on keeping up with challenges? It would also be great if one has book goals to help regulate/properly schedule their book reading and not just for the mere satisfaction that they get to attain this certain goal.

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    • I completely agree – I feel like there is too great of a focus on quantity over quality when it comes to reading challenges and whether you’re successful in actually attaining these extremely elevated goals. I envy your much more organized approach to reading goals!

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  3. I always end up lowering mine so I know what it’s like…I hate how intense everyone gets about this sort of stuff. It gets knocked way out of proportion and people start to fixate on stuff like this unnecessarily. There’s more important stuff in life.

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    • So, so true – life’s too short to fixate on the little things, such as whether or not you attain your reading goal every year. Aiming high can never hurt, I just have to be prepared for potential disappointment when I fall short, which I’ve slowly come to accept over the years.

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  4. You’ve got this! It may seem like you won’t be able to get your goal, but you can definitely get there eventually.

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  5. To be honest, I don’t think there’s any shame in lowering your reading goals. I mean, how can we know in January how busy our year will be? I’ve done it too, especially last year which was a really busy year for me. I usually put my reading goal at either 100 or 90, but I usually read more than that. I put a goal, but I don’t like to feel so pressured by it.

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    • That’s very true – I always tend to overestimate, regardless of how busy I’ll be during the upcoming year (and of course there are always the unforeseen time sinks). I’m doing my best to catch up before school starts, but I may ultimately have to lower my goal in order to make it more realistic.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I always set a reading goal but to be honest, I never really care about it? Like, I’m not big on those things. I am more so big on the reading challenges, where you try and fit books into certain categories. That’s what I like doing most, and not to the point where it pressures me – just for fun!

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    • I’ve always been the opposite – I’ve placed quite a bit of emphasis on the Goodreads reading goal and neglected other reading challenges throughout the year. What challenges are you participating in this year?

      Liked by 1 person

      • In the Popsugar Challenge and… quite a few! I list them all at the end of my wrap ups. I’m not stressed about having set over ambitious goals I’m probably not going to reach at this rate 😀

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