Reading Goals: Helpful or Harmful?

Reading goals. You can’t go anywhere online without seeing them. 

If you are a member of the online bookish community, you know what I am referring to. Folk who boast via GoodReads how many books they have under their belt this year alone. The aesthetic as hell Instagram accounts document the fifth book they read today. The blogs detailing the ten new releases you need to read this month. 

If you are like me, they make you feel inferior, right? While we are living in the golden age of bookish content, it can take a toll on us.

So you promise to read 50, 100 or books when the clock hits midnight on New Year’s Eve, only to burn yourself out. You are slapped in the face by the mother of all reading slumps. 

There is this toxic idea in the community that insinuates that you are “less” of a reader because you haven’t read as many as someone else. Frankly, we don’t all have the time to sit around and read all day due to work and education obligations, We can’t all afford to buy the newest releases (hardcover prices are criminal if you ask me) and not all of us are lucky enough to have access to public libraries.

Now I am not saying we should abolish reading goals. After all, for the past four years, I have set reading goals. With each passing year, the goal gets higher, this year my aim is to read 70. However, I remind myself that while it is a goal, I do not take it too bad if I miss the mark. The important part is that I am reading. 

I mean, what is the point of reading goals if you page skim half of your books to hit an arbitrary number, forgetting everything you have read within a week. Forcing yourself to finish a book you hate because the sunk cost fallacy is kicking in. Deliberately reading dull short books so you can get one step closer to that lofty number. 

Perhaps instead of focusing on the numbers, concentrate on what you are reading. Aim to diversify your reading. Try different genres, ensure your TBR list isn’t as white as the pages. Maybe read nonfiction at least once every two months on a topic you know little about. Perhaps one on queer or racial issues, or about a different culture. Part of the reason I am doing the POPSUGAR challenge this year is for this very reason. It has helped encourage me to try books I would never have read otherwise.

Another point to consider is coming at this from a different angle. Possibly instead of aiming to read a certain about of books, you set a goal to read a bit every day. I have seen a bit of debate in regards to how long folk should read every day. It seems to be around 15 to 30 minutes per day. Or, to really simplify matters, read 20 pages a day. Again, as long as you are reading, that is the main thing.

Please do not feel guilty about your reading habits. No matter if you read a handful of books or enough to fill a library, you are valid. What you choose to read and how you read it doesn’t make you any less of a reader than anyone else. Never forget that!

One thought on “Reading Goals: Helpful or Harmful?

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  1. This post is incredibly relatable. I am definitely guilty of forcing myself to finish books I don’t like just so I can tick off that reading challenge prompt and of reading short books to boost my numbers.

    I’m also guilty of taking on way too many reading challenges at once. That means I often spend Decembers binge-reading all the books left at the bottom of the list just because I don’t want to admit defeat. As you said, rushing through them at the last minute means I don’t enjoy them as much as I should and the stories don’t stick in my head for very long. I definitely need to learn to go easier on myself in terms of challenges and not to beat myself up too much if I’m struggling to finish them.

    Liked by 1 person

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