The unexpected benefits of a reading goal


It appears there are unexpected benefits to having a reading goal. This is the first year I’ve actually set a “books read” goal (mine is 96 books) and while having the goal alone is quite motivating, there’ve been some interesting side effects.

I’m slower to DNF. Yes, it’s true. I used to be one of those “I’ll give you ten, okay, maybe 15 pages but that’s about it” readers. Now, though, if I’ve invested the half an hour or whatever it took for me to get through those first fifteen pages, I find I’m reluctant to put down a book unless I’m absolutely sure I’m holding a real stinker. Which doesn’t actually happen very often at all.

I’m still a moody reader, but now my moods are “stickier”. So yes, I still have to be in a a certain type of mood to read a certain type of book. Which means I still get into a mood for mystery, or fantasy, or science fiction or non-fiction or memoir or whatever—but I find myself staying in that mood for longer. Often for long enough to finish whatever book I happen to be reading. And if not (I like to have three or four books on the go at any given time) then it seems like I switch to a mood that’s right for another one of the books I have on the go. Quite handy.

As for that “not in the mood for reading” mood. And so far this year (knock wood) I haven’t encountered the “not in the mood for reading” mood. Which has been very nice indeed (although I’m not so sure I can credit this to my having a reading goal this year. But maybe I can.)

I have a lot more “Incoming!” books. Once upon a time I would semi-regularly post an “Incoming!” post, where I’d list the latest books that crossed the MsBookish threshold. It’s hard to write those posts, though, when you’re only seeing a trickle of new titles every now and then. But now that I’m reading regularly and consistently, I find I’m constantly on the lookout for more books. And when that happens, more books arrive. (Perhaps this is the Avalanche Theory of Reading More?)

I have a lot more to blog about. Reading more books means I have a lot of bookish stuff on my mind, which means I have a lot more bookish ideas for posts. Which is a good thing, since I’m also committing this year to 365 days of blogging.

Have you encountered any of these benefits of having a reading goal?

8 thoughts on “The unexpected benefits of a reading goal

    1. Belle Wong Post author

      I think for me it’s been the numbers. First, setting that goal and then breaking it down into books per month and books per week. I find the monthly number really helpful – it feels very doable. And then the reading spreadsheet (although I tend to forget to enter them as I finish them, so usually do a batch of them at the end of the month). The spreadsheet lets me track interesting things, like diversity of the characters, gender of the authors, number of pages, format, source–I’m even tracking audiobook hours and minutes. All those numbers! I love having all those stats at hand like that.

  1. Beth F

    I used to make reading goals but realized I have way too many other goals going on in relation to books (editing, freelance reviewing), so now I just read to read. no goals.

  2. bermudaonion (Kathy)

    I’ve never set a reading goal like that. Sometimes if I’m in the middle of a big book for book club and I’m not enjoying it, I’ll set a goal of a certain number of pages per day and that really helps me.

  3. Sarah's Book Shelves

    What’s happening with your DNFing is exactly the opposite of what’s happening with mine! I’m trying to be better about abandoning a book that doesn’t work for me….but it’s still so, so hard. I think having a # of books reading goal causes me to jump on short books quicker and to really consider tackling a chunkster. I have to be REALLY excited about that chunkster.

  4. Athira

    Like Vasilly, I struggle to stick to reading goals. Once I make a goal, I have the illusion that there is plenty of time to achieve that goal and then go do something else. This year, I decided to try no goals reading and so far it is working out. But I do miss not having goals (not that I ever achieve them) so I may go back to it next year. I’m glad it’s working out for you though!

  5. Meghan

    I really like reading goals. I’m failing at mine this year, but I like having something to aim for. The only downside is it makes me a lot less likely to tackle chunksters like Sarah says above, but I’m trying to almost ignore my goal if I’m really interested in reading a particularly large book, or phase it with a pages per day target and read some smaller books alongside it. I also really love tracking my reading. It’s the way I got into the whole book blogging thing in the first place!

  6. Becca Lostinbooks

    I still DNF like crazy, but I do give them 50-100 pages. If I’m not hooked by then, I will have more luck with another book, in my opinion.

    I have gotten a bit into the “do I want to read or lay here and just listen to music or sleep” thing lately and lately books have not won out as often. I’m trying to fight it but somehow I think letting go and just letting the wave pass might be a better bet in the long run. I’ve just had a lot going on emotionally so I think I don’t want to read sometimes when I am THAT kind of tired.

    I am so glad this is working out for you. I have a goal of I think its 80 books this year. Last year I read over 100 but still I wanted to make it hard but not too hard for me. I’ve read 24 so far this year.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>