2018 has just begun, which means people are still reflecting on the year behind us and looking forward to the year ahead. Resolutions will be made and most will be forgotten. And if you use the popular book review site Goodreads, one of those resolutions may include a reading goal for the year.
For the past few years, I have set a reading goal using Goodreads. In 2016, my goal was 35 books, which I just barely made, and the year before that it was 50, which I didn’t even come close to. Both years, I felt no small amount of stress over reaching these goals. This might sound silly to some of you, but if my Twitter timeline is any indication, there are plenty of other people who see their Goodreads goal more as a source of stress rather than a source of fun.
So instead of setting myself up for stress-fueled reading this past year, I had decided I wanted to focus less on reaching a particular goal, and instead just wanted to use Goodreads to track which books I read. I set a small goal that I was sure I would quickly reach: five books.
But despite thinking that this was a goal I would easily reach, once again I barely made it. Currently, I’ve read seven books this year. I’m not saying that reading seven books in a year is nothing. I know that for many people this would be an accomplishment. But for me, someone who has always prided herself on being a voracious reader, my lack of completed books is disappointing.
I think what’s more disappointing than the number, though, is what it represents. This whole year, I have struggled to get and stay interested in a book. There have been books that came out this year that I was really looking forward to, and yet still haven’t gotten around to reading. There have been books that I was enjoying and then suddenly found myself unable to finish. For whatever reason, this year has been one in which reading does not hold the same interest for me that it usually does.
In 2018, I want to get back into reading. I want to get wrapped up in a book and not be able to put it down. I want to look forward to reading again, instead of viewing it as a chore.
But I also don’t want to set unreasonable goals. The last two years, when my reading goals were significantly higher, I found myself worrying too much about the number I was plugging in to a website that, realistically, no one but me even cared about.
On the other hand, if I don’t set a goal for myself, I might have another bad reading year. I find I’m most motivated to do things, even things I want to do, when I have some sort of external motivating factor. While nobody else but me is monitoring my Goodreads goal progress, the fact that it’s there at all puts more pressure on me to actually get reading done.
In 2018, I’m going to set a bigger goal for myself than this past year, but one that still feels achievable. I saw someone on Twitter suggest setting 18 books for 2018 as a goal, as it comes out to about a book and a half a month. So I might go with that, or even go a little lower to 15.
Either way, I’m going to try and focus on getting back into reading for fun this year. Goodreads is just one of the tools I plan on using to help me in that goal, but I’m going to try and not let it become a source of stress. Ultimately, a Goodreads reading goal is what you make of it, and if you feel like it’s going to do more harm than good to your reading habit, don’t use it.
Grace Carlson is a writer from Washington. She writes about travel, mental health, writing, and books. Sometimes she’s funny, or at least that’s what her mom says. Follow her on twitter @gracieawriter