#LetsDiscuss2021 #5 – Reading: Goals and Guilt – #DiscussionSunday.

#LetsDiscuss2021 Landscape

As people started the year out with lots of reading challenges, from Goodreads to Pop Sugar, I also noticed an increased number of people on Facebook bemoaning the number of books they read in 2020, and are already worried about how many they’ll read in 2021. The question is…

Why do we set reading goals? Do they really help us read more (or read different types of books)? How guilty should we feel when we see we aren’t reaching these goals?

Discussion Sunday 2021


These are my personal opinions. I do not expect anyone to agree with anything here, and in fact, I’m certain that many will disagree and/or even hate many of the things I’ve written below. Sorry about that, but you are always welcome to express your own opinions – be they contrary or comparable – in the comments section. So, with that out of the way… let the controversy begin!

What made me think about this topic?

I noticed that during 2020, many people noted that they read a great deal more books when the pandemic set in, while others felt that they weren’t motivated to read as much because they were depressed by the whole situation. Now that we’ve suffered a whole year since the beginnings of the lock-downs, some people who read less are back to reading more, others are having an even harder time of it than they did last year.

My Thoughts…

There are several parts to this discussion. There’s the idea of the number of books you want to read each year (as in, Goodreads the challenge). Then there are the other reading challenges. For example, I do the Historical Fiction one, and the New Releases one. Sometimes I do the big summer book one, but only if I actually have books on my TBR that are 400+ pages (which seems to be increasingly common these days. In fact, I’m finding it harder and harder to find books in the 250-300 page range).

Don’t get me wrong – giving yourself a goal can be a very good thing. We like to challenge ourselves, so that we can be proud of our achievements when we reach our goals. The thing is, when I enter into these challenges, I always set my sights lower than I think I can achieve. For example, on Goodreads I made it to 64 books last year, and my goal was 63. However, you should know that I actually changed my goal about five times, when I saw I was ahead of schedule. In years past, I have been known to lower my goal, and not feel the least bit guilty about it. This year, I started out with 60, and so far I’m on track, but I might adjust that number if things change. Who knows what tomorrow will bring, and how that will impact the number of books we read?

That said, I’ve seen many people on Facebook and other social media places almost beating themselves up because someone else reads twice that many books, and they might not even get to 10 during the year. I’m trying to tell them that they shouldn’t be ashamed or cowed by someone else’s rate of devouring books. If you read only ONE book this year, but you read it with intense enjoyment, that’s a great achievement, and you should be proud of yourself. More importantly, everyone reads at their own pace. I’m dyslexic so I read slowly, but there are people who read very quickly. I therefore know better than most that comparing your consumption to someone else’s speed of reading is only going to depress you. Don’t do that to yourself, please just don’t!

As for all the diversity reading challenges, I get where they’re coming from, and I appreciate their wanting to promote diverse authors, and I understand the importance of doing that. However, if a book isn’t in a genre I enjoy reading, should I feel pressured to read it just because it was written by an author who isn’t white or straight or whatever? And in truth, I do read plenty of diverse authors, when they write something that piques my interest. I would also like to note that I’m willing to be pulled out of my comfort zone from time to time. However, I’m simply not going to commit to doing so through a challenge, because I know that I’m always going to prefer certain genres over others. Furthermore, as a reviewer, I think that I am more valuable to publishers when I stick to my favorite genres when offered a new release.

In addition, it is very hard for me to comprehend why people would go out of their way to do something that makes them suffer. I mean, we’re all supposed to be readers here; book lovers. Why torture ourselves with something we love? If that means reading only manga or only YA contemporary romance, then just read those. If that means reading five books during 2021, then BRAVO – that’s five more books than non-readers, so pat yourself on the back for your achievement.

My point is: My goals, my decisions. Nothing is set in stone. You need to do what is best for you, and everyone else be damned! Read what you want, and as much as you want. That includes reading books that you WANT to read, and not reading books that you think you’re supposed to be reading (because of the hype, or the type, or whatever). The point is to enjoy reading. Can we agree on this or not?

There you have it!

So… what about you?

Do you join in on reading challenges that ask you to set certain goals (numbers or types of book)? If you do, are you strict about keeping to them, or are you okay with changing them when you see you’re doing better or not as well as you originally thought? If you can’t adjust your goals, to you get anxious when you think you might not reach them?

This post is my 5th entry in the 2020 Discussion Challenge, hosted by Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction and Shannon @ It Starts at Midnight!


31 thoughts on “#LetsDiscuss2021 #5 – Reading: Goals and Guilt – #DiscussionSunday.

  1. I never do challenges that count what I read since I don’t want to get caught up in quantity over quality. I do like challenges that push me to read different types of books or books about different parts of the world. I’ve found great books that way that I might not have discovered. This year, I found a challenge on Modern Mrs Darcy that’s completely customizable – you choose your own goals. The downside to that is you don’t benefit from a community that shares your goals. Over the last year I’ve tried to keep my reading more unstructured, since life is stressful enough!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. The only reading challenge I participate in is setting a goal of reading one per a week (for 52 total). Anything more than this does more harm to me mentally than good. What I will never understand is why people feel the need to moan and complain about how many books other people read? Like,. why? Please.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Yes, I DO participate in reading challenges. That being said, I do not participate in ones that take me away from my existing TBR. I find challenges that fit with the books I’ve already got on my TBR or titles that I have review commitments for. Because of this, I find reading challenges help me to take control of my outstanding reading by spurring me to read things in a more timely manner.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Great questions! I do the annual Goodreads challenge — but I will change the goal if I get to mid-year and realize it’s unrealistic. I’ve also increased the number if it’s a year where I read a lot of short fiction, children’s books, graphic novels, etc. I see it more as an exercise for myself than anything else, so I don’t worry about the numbers too much.

    I really don’t participate in other challenges, and that’s because I try to limit how many books I feel obligated to pick up versus just reading what appeals to me in the minute. I know a lot of people enjoy challenges, but it just doesn’t suit my reading style. And who needs pressure when it comes to reading?

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I love to read, I love that over the last few years, I have read and enjoyed books I would not have read before because of book bloggers I follow and some challenges I participate in. I used to read the same authors all the time. Only one or two genres and that is it. My reading is very diverse and eclectic now. Having said that, I do not beat myself up if I don’t complete a challenge or read certain things I had selected. Goals are for me only. Great discussion questions Davida.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I set reading goals on Goodreads because I’m trying to work my way through my mountainous TBR pile. I don’t know if it’s helping or if I should even worry about it. I need to stop buying books until I’ve made a dent in it, because it does make me stressed.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah… see, that’s the thing. I think we should try to avoid getting stressed. I emptied out my Goodreads TBR list to books I actually own (print or on kindle) and that was a huge relief.


  7. Oh, I 100% agree with you on the fact that you should just read whatever YOU want and not worry about it beyond that. I do occasionally like to throw in a challenge that helps me expand my reading horizons a bit, but I never go TOO far out of my comfort zone, and I also don’t get hung up on feeling required to finish one.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I set some reading challenge goals this year but I have let them go completely by the wayside. And I don’t feel bad about it! This year, I’m just letting the reading take me where it will, and enjoying the ride. There are too many constraints in other parts of my life.

    I never set a goal of reading a total number of books for the year (or month, week, etc.) I know I will always read as much as I can and there’s no need to pressure myself.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I set myself lots of targets and challenges but I almost never achieve them and I don’t care! I really do it mostly for a bit of fun on the blog, and partly to remind me to vary my reading a bit. But I don’t compare my reading to other people’s or read books I don’t want to because I feel I should. That would soon destroy my enjoyment in reading…

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I use the Goodreads reading challenge just to count the number of books I’ve read in a certain period. My only other real reading goal is to tick off as many books from my TBR list as possible.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I only do the Goodreads challenge and it’s just for fun. I don’t really care if reach my goal or not ( although there’s a feeling of satifaction if I do) Reading is a pleasure, I would hate it to become a chore so I read the genres I love at my own pace.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I deleted Goodreads, but I downloaded my data first. I read 60 books last year and decided to read 100 this year. So far, I’m on track with 26. It’s just for my own fun, not competitive with anyone else.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. When I was working full time and had kids still at home, I was lucky to read a book a month. I’ve always loved to read, but all of my reading was done while in line for parent/teacher conferences or in the waiting room at the doctors. Never could I just sit on my couch and read uninterrupted for even 15 minutes it didn’t seem. Now I read more in one month than I used to in a year. I’ll admit, back then I felt like my number was embarrassing. Now, in hindsight, I say “good for you!” And good for anyone out there who finds those stolen minutes to read for the joy of reading, not to reach some random number.

    While I’m doing better at passing on books that aren’t my usual fare, it’s still hard for me to give up and actually mark a book I already started as DNF. I’m getting there, I get a little better each year.

    I really appreciate this post. Very well thought out.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I honestly don’t understand reading challenges and making reading goals. I make a reading goal on Goodreads but I never look at it. It’s inconsequential to me. I agree with you – read however many books you want because they make you happy and you enjoy it, whether that be one book in a year or 200.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I like to read at least 100 new books per year, and I belong to one group which has a monthly reading challenge, but that’s it. I’m amazed by how many books some people read, but it depends what else you do – some people don’t work, or don’t watch a lot of TV, so have more time for reading than I do.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ll probably never get to 100 books because I read far too slowly. When I was still working, if I read 30-35 a year, that was huge. Now that I’m retired, I see that I’m in the 60-65 range.

      Liked by 1 person

  16. I agree with reading “in your own lane”….at your own speed and reading your most loved genres! I love tracking my reading because I’m a data nerd and love a good spreadsheet….but it’s competition with myself only. I’m getting better and better at avoiding my least fav genres… mainly for my own enjoyment but also because I like to give good reviews. Nice discussion Davida!

    Liked by 1 person

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