2021 Reading Goals

I mostly bombed my 2020 goals so no use in revisiting them. Onward and upward.

  1. Read 100. Easy, hopefully.
  2. Read Black playwrights. This past summer I made a resolution to read a play by a Black playwright for every Shakespeare play I read–I was doing ok at first and then quickly realized that keeping it up at exactly a 1:1 ratio was going to be virtually impossible given a handful of other reading obligations I was juggling, so I let myself fall behind and resolved to eventually catch up when I finished with Shakespeare. Excited to dive back into this.
  3. Read at least one ARC every month. I’ve decided that in addition to whatever ARCs I pick up on a whim, I’m also going to use a random number generator to decide on at least one ARC I’m going to read each month and just choose the corresponding title from my Netgalley shelf. My feedback ratio is appalling and it’s time for drastic measures.
  4. Read more backlist. I know this is everyone’s resolution every year, but this year my heart is really in this one. I have so many titles on my shelves that I’m dying to read and even though I wrote a long list of new releases I’m anticipating this year, very few of those fall into a must-read category for me.
  5. Read the Complete Works of Christopher Marlowe. This is something I decided I wanted to do just the other day but I’m honestly SO excited about it and I’m very impatient for my copy to arrive. Don’t panic, this guy did not write nearly as much as Shakespeare, this isn’t going to take over my entire life.
  6. Don’t read the Women’s Prize longlist unless I am truly excited about every single title. Which does not seem likely. I’m looking forward to reading a handful off the longlist with my Women’s Prize pals, but 3 of my 8 worst books of 2020 being off the WP longlist was really a wakeup call for me. And I didn’t even manage to finish the damn longlist!
  7. Be a better blogger. I think it’s no secret that my head and my heart weren’t in blogging this year, and I think that was entirely down to the pandemic. But I’ve spent my morning catching up and reading your blog posts from the past several months (I still have a long way to go before I’m caught up) and it’s reminded me of how much I adore this community and how I really want to be a better participant.

What are your reading goals for the new year?

2020 Reading Goals

Let’s start off this post by revisiting my 2019 goals:

  • Read at least 80 books.  Success!  112
  • Request fewer ARCs/read more books I already own.  lol
  • Read at least two books a month from any of these categories: plays, poetry collections, short story collections, nonfiction.  I did ok at this for a while and then eventually fell off the wagon.  But I did succeed in diversifying my reading (I definitely read more nonfiction in particular than ever before) so I’m not going to dwell on the specifics of this one.
  • Read my 2019 backlist TBR.  4.5/12.  Spectacular fail.
  • Read at least 12 classics.  I actually had to go back and count just now, but no, I did not succeed, I only read 7.  That’s especially low for me so I’m not really sure what happened there.  Oh well.

Some brief personal ramblings, if you’re at all curious why my goals went so badly.  If not, definitely skip these paragraphs.  2019 was… an interesting year for me.  Less than two months into the year the company I’d been working for for 5 years went out of business (long story) and I subsequently found myself unemployed for two months, which was awful.  And I almost feel bad about how awful it was for me emotionally, because I had enough savings that I wasn’t even in a position where I had to rush out and find a job the next day, and I know so many people aren’t as fortunate.  But I’d be lying if I pretended that that didn’t hit me very hard.

In April, I found a job which in many ways was my dream job on paper (I work in editorial and foreign rights for a local indie children’s book publisher), and while I do love my job in many ways, it was… a rather rough transition for me.  It’s a very, very, very different environment from anywhere I’ve ever worked before, and it took a pretty serious toll on my mental health.  Suffice to say, for the better part of the year I was suffering from worse depression and anxiety than I have in years.  I managed to read 112 books, which, yes, is a lot!  But it’s also about 20-30 fewer than I’d been managing in previous years, and I wasn’t even reading particularly long or dense books for the most part, so that goes to show that I was just really struggling in the second half of the year.  All this to say, in 2020 I’m going to be kinder to myself with my goals, because I can’t predict how my work/life/sanity balance is going to affect my reading.  I know it seems like I have a lot of goals here, but a lot of them are pretty basic and easily achievable.

(Sorry if that was all very ‘woe is me’ – I hate and struggle with talking about my personal life publicly, but I do feel like I owe it to you guys to sort of let you know where my head is at when it naturally affects my reading and blogging quite a great deal.)

So without further ado, 2020 reading (and blogging!) goals:

  • Read at least 90 books.  … ok, I was going to go lower, but I couldn’t resist.  I’ve been gradually been increasing my Goodreads goal by 10 each year for many years and I didn’t want to break the pattern.  I know a lot of people feel very restricted by their Goodreads goal, but this is actually one of the goals I care the least about.  If I hit it, great, if I don’t, I’ll change it to a lower number.
  • Read my 2020 backlist TBR.  Again, I don’t particularly care if I succeed at this goal or not, but as of this moment in time, it’s a pile of books I’m really, really excited about.  I also purposefully picked less ‘challenging’ books than the ones I put on my 2019 list, so I think this is more achievable.
  • Read my ARCs ahead of publication date.  At this point it’s an annual tradition to put this on my list and then fail at it.  So.  Whatever.  I’ll give it a go.  The road to hell etc etc.
  • Read the Women’s Prize longlist, and no other literary prize longlists.  I’ve discovered over the years that despite how much I love following literary prizes, I cannot focus my reading around them year-round.  However, I love the Women’s Prize too much to throw in the towel with this annual tradition.  Last year I read through the longlist with a group of friends and we all had such a blast with it that I think we’re all planning on doing it again, and I cannot wait.  If you enjoy my Women’s Prize series of posts every year you can absolutely look forward to that again.
  • Participate in Reading Ireland Month (March) and Women in Translation Month (August) and no other themed reading challenges.  Again, I just can’t focus my reading around community-wide initiatives, no matter how fun or well-intentioned they are.  But despite that, these two have my heart, and I am so looking forward to participating in both.  That said, I don’t plan on reading exclusively Irish lit in March (only because of the Women’s Prize tbh – otherwise I’d love to) or only Women in Translation in August.  I don’t want to restrict myself too much.
  • Unfollow a lot of blogs.  Don’t panic!  If we regularly interact on here, I am not talking about you.  When I first discovered this community, I would follow just about everyone.  I also had a lot more free time back then to read through my WordPress Reader more thoroughly.  I still like to rely on that tool to stay caught up, but nowadays I follow like 600 accounts on here and I find myself scrolling past way more blogs than I actually click on.  This just isn’t a sustainable way for me to stay engaged with the blogs I actually want to engage with.  So I know this seems like a kind of negative resolution, but it’s not, I promise.  This will be a lot better in the long run to focus my blogging interests.  And then, the flip side of this is that once my reader is more manageable, I want to be able to seek out some more bloggers whose reading tastes overlap with mine.
  • Review books immediately after finishing them.  I can’t believe I actually have to write this down as one of my resolutions, because this is something I have never struggled with.  I’ve always written my reviews within an hour of finishing the book.  But unfortunately I’ve been so mentally and emotionally drained lately that I find myself putting it off, and then resenting the process once I do sit down to review.  This just isn’t me.  I need to get back to the basics.

What are your 2020 reading and blogging goals?  Comment and let me know!

2019 Reading Goals

In case you missed it you can see how I did on my 2018 reading goals here, and since I failed pretty spectacularly at that, time for some new ones!

My 2019 reading goals:

Read at least 80 books.  Again, I’m purposefully setting a low goal (not that 80 books is low – just lower than what I’ve been reading the past few years), because I find stressing about my Goodreads reading challenge to be… not a great use of my energy.

Request fewer ARCs/read more books I already own.  Everyone’s perennial resolution.  Wish me luck.

Read at least two books a month from any of these categories: plays, poetry collections, short story collections, nonfiction.  Trying something new this year.  Last year one of my goals was to read a classic and a play each month, which didn’t quite work for me as I found it too restricting.  But I know I lean more heavily on novels than I’d like so I still needed a way to diversify my reading.  Hopefully this will be a good compromise.

Read my 2019 backlist TBR.  Self-explanatory.  There is no excuse for me to have not read these books by 2020.  (Even The Color Purple by everyone’s newly problematic fave – I was incredibly disappointed to read that and I’m positive it’s going to cloud my experience with the book, but it’s still a seminal work that I’ve been wanting to read for a decade, so I’m going to read it and unhaul it and move on.)

Read at least 12 classics.  The equivalent of one a month, obviously, but hopefully this will be less restrictive and allow me to go on more classics binges without thinking ‘wait I should save this for later.’

I probably have other goals I’m forgetting right now but I think I’ll stop there.  That’s enough to keep me busy for the year, certainly.

What are some of your 2019 reading goals?  Comment and let me know!

2018 Reading Resolutions – Update

On January 3, 2018 I posted a list of my reading goals for this year.  Let’s see how I did!  Spoiler: not great.

  1. Read at least 75 books.  Verdict: Success!
    As of December 19 I have read 128 books, so I’d say I knocked that one out of the park.  But to be fair I purposefully set my goal on the low side of what I thought I was capable of reading so I wouldn’t stress too much about the number.  I’ll probably raise my goal a bit for 2019 but still keep it manageable.  The Goodreads reading challenge is the last thing on earth I want to stress about.
  2. Read at least one book in Italian.  Verdict: Fail 😦
    I avoid books written in Italian for the same reason I avoid long books – I always think about how many shorter books I could be reading in that same amount of time.  I’m not sure this goal will publicly carry over into 2019, mainly because I’d be embarrassed to fail at it two years in a row.  But it will remain a goal in my head.
  3. Use the library more often.  Verdict: Success!
    One of my steadiest sources of books this year was my library’s Overdrive account, which has been a life-saver for audiobooks and ebooks.  But I’ve used my physical library more often as well.  This has presented me with a new challenge though – library holds coming in all at once.  So I still need to figure out a better way to balance my library holds with mood reading.
  4. Request fewer Netgalley ARCs/spend more time reading books I already own.  Verdict: Fail 😦
    The road to hell is paved with good intentions, etc etc.  What can I say – I still haven’t figured out a way to resist the pull of ARCs, even when I have plenty of books on my shelves that I’m also interested in.
  5. Read at least one classic and at least one play each month.  Verdict: Fail 😦
    I was doing SO WELL with this for the first half of the year…. and then I fell off the horse and never got back on.  I did end up reading 11 plays this year, which isn’t very good for me but still makes the one-a-month goal rather feasible, and I think that will carry into 2019.  But I learned that ‘one classic a month’ does not really work for me; I read 13 (with a bit of overlap between plays and classics), but sometimes I’m in the mood to read 3 classics in a row and sometimes I’m in the mood to read none.  As a firm believer in finding books at the right time, I don’t want to force myself to read a classic just for the sake of meeting an arbitrary goal.  So if I do this goal again I might say ‘read at least 12 classics in 2019’ or something like that, rather than one per month.

So, I succeeded at only 2/5 of my challenges, one of which wasn’t really a challenge at all but an arbitrary number I knew I’d hit easily.  But it’s good that I’ve taken the time to check in with last year’s goals before writing 2019’s.  Notes to self: (1) keep it manageable, (2) if you set goals that you know you won’t automatically meet, you need to actually make an effort.

What were some of your 2018 reading goals and how did you do?  Comment and let me know!