There are many reasons to set a reading goal for yourself in the new year. Maybe you want to read more, try reading new things or keep track of what books you read to help you find more good books. Whatever your reason, setting a reading goal and recording your books can be a very helpful tool. It helps you become a stronger reader and makes reading more enjoyable. I would like to help you get started on your 2021 goal with some tips, tricks and tools.
The most common type of reading goal is trying to read a certain number of books during the year. The first step to create this type of goal is figuring out how many books you want to read. This is a personal decision that depends on how much time you have to devote to reading and how fast you read. Some people set their goal at five books others at 100. A good way to set your goal is to think about how much time you want to take to finish a book. A goal of 50 leaves you having to read about one book a week. You may want to make your goal 12 (one book a month), 24 (two books a month) or 36 (three books a month). Another thing to consider when setting your goal is what books you want to count. For example, I count books that are over 100 pages, and I choose not to include graphic novels (not because they aren’t a great type of book to read, but because I read a lot of them rather quickly).
Once you’ve figured out the parameters, you will want to decide how to record your books. Pen and paper is always a good choice. You can simply create a list that you keep somewhere safe. Or if you really want to chronicle your reading, consider making yourself a reading journal. Here you can record things about each book like the title, author, what you thought of it, what rating you would give it, etc. You can get real creative with it and record all kinds of info about the book or even what happened in your life while reading the book. The more information you record, the more useful the journal will be in helping you figure out what to read next. You could also do something similar digitally in a program like Word or even Excel, if you want to be able to analyze your record. If you’re looking for a high tech tool, I recommend checking out goodreads.com. Goodreads has a yearly reading goal function that allows you to set your goal at any number of books and then keeps track of that goal throughout the year. It tells you what percent of the way you are to completion and whether that puts you ahead or behind schedule. At the end of the year you get a report which gives you a lot of fun stats like how many pages you read, what book you read was the longest or shortest, as well as which book was the most popular with other readers. If you stick with Goodreads for multiple years, you can compare your reading year to year. A new alternative to Goodreads is a site called beta.thestorygraph.com It has a similar reading goal function to Goodreads where you can pick how many books you want to read and it tells you what percentage of the goal you have achieved. It also gives you a very detailed statistical report at the end of the year about the types of books you read. I find their stats to be very helpful in figuring out what book I want to read next. (Note: If you already have a Goodreads account, you can upload your bookshelves to Thestorygraph so you don’t have to rerecord everything)
Another reading goal option is to try different types of books. As a reader it can become easy to stick to books you know you will like, but this may cause you to miss out on some truly amazing reading experiences. You can always come up with this goal on your own. Maybe you want to read a certain number of non-fiction books this year or want to read a different genre every month. But, there are also many sources available to help you diversify your reading. If you use Goodreads, they have a feature called “Lists’’ where you can find user-made book lists for pretty much anything. This could be a great starting point if you want to find a variety of genres, authors, styles, or time periods to use as goals. Bookriot.com has a “Read Harder’’ Challenge every year made up of 24 reading prompts and book suggestions to diversify your reading. For example, read a book you’ve been intimidated to read, or read a book by a Native American author. beta.thestorygraph.com is my favorite site for this type of reading goal because they have what they call “Reading Challenges.” They have challenges for pretty much any goal you might have. Each challenge has a series of prompts to inspire you to read different books, and if you join the challenge, you can see what books other users read for each prompt.
I hope 2021 treats you well and that you reach all your reading goals, whatever they may be.
Emma Lashley is a library assistant at the Reference and Local History Department at Crawfordsville District Public Library.