Last year, for the first time, I hit my yearly reading goal. Since 2015, I have been trying to read 50 books in a year. I got close in 2019 with 42 books, but I finally made it happen in 2020. How, you might be wondering?
Over the years, I’ve started following more literary lovers on Instagram (often referred to as Bookstagrammers) for their book reviews and recommendations. And with their help, I finally got to that magic number. Here’s what I’ve learned when it comes to reading a lot, but more importantly, enjoying it!
How to crush your reading goal
Say goodbye to books that you don’t like. This absolutely changed how I read. I used to force myself to finish every book I started, even when I absolutely hated it. (Which happens more frequently than I thought.) Doing this meant it would take me weeks to read a book that should only take six or so hours. Now, if I’m not enjoying a story, I’ll give it about 150 pages to change my mind. And if by then, I’m still not feeling it, I set it aside. It’s a little painful to do this if you paid for the book, but it’s less painful than forcing myself to sit there night after night reading it.
Utilize your library. Libraries are amazing. (Don’t at me.) If you’re not using your local library, you’re missing out. I borrow dozens of Kindle books from the library every year through the Libby app. And if you’re more into audiobooks, you can borrow those as well. And going back to my point above, it’s a lot less painful to return a free book to the library if you don’t like it.
Track your progress. Goodreads is my go-to app for tracking my books. It gives you the option to set (and edit, if needed) a yearly reading goal. You can also sort books into different categories: want to read, read, and currently reading. But, there are a lot of ways to track your goal progress. Reading journals, simple lists on your phone, Facebook groups, calendars, and book stacks are other methods of keeping track of what you’ve read.
Listen to audiobooks. I don’t care what people say. Audiobooks absolutely count toward your reading goal. If anything, they take longer to get through than a physical book. I have an Audible subscription, which nets me one new audiobook a month, but you can also check out audiobooks from most libraries for free.
Try different genres (branch out). You might be surprised by what you find when you step out of your reading comfort zone. My favorite genres are historical fiction and contemporary, but I’ll read anything if it looks interesting, and my favorite book from last year was a fantasy (The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue). If you box yourself in by what you think you’ll like or what you’ve liked in the past, you might miss something great.
Join a book club. People help keep you accountable. If you join a book club, there’s a good chance you’ll be assigned one book a month and that you’ll need to read it to participate in the discussion. Seven of my 50 books last year were because of a small book club that I’m in. If you don’t want to be in an ‘in-person’ book club, there are lots of virtual ones out there. There are even whole podcasts devoted to selecting books and then discussing them.
Scan pages with lots of descriptive imagery. Not every scene detailing the mist rising around the trees is important to your overall understanding of a book. If you see long passages with little dialogue, you can often scan them for context.
I’m hoping to read 60+ books this year, and I encourage you to set a goal as well! Good luck — you can do it.