In the book blogger world, Goodreads Reading Challenge goals are big. Really big. Some of the book bloggers I follow read upwards of 150 or 200 books in a year. That’s A LOT of books.

And it stresses me out.

In 2018, I set my Goodreads Goal to 100 books.

That was huge for me. Since I started tracking my reading a few years ago, the most books I’d read was 88 books in a year. So, I aimed high in 2019. And I made it! I read 100 books in 12 months. Which was super exciting. But also, super stressful.

The thing with numbered reading goals is they are dual-sided. 

  1. They encourage you to read more.
  2. They make you feel like you have to read more.

Numbered reading goals are both positive and negative. 

I love reading more books, discovering new authors, trying out new genres and styles. I like seeing the number and saying to myself, “Wow, I’ve read a lot of books this year. That’s cool!”.

But, I also dislike seeing the “You’re 8 books behind schedule” note and feeling like I need to find some short books to quickly read so I can catch up. I dislike feeling like I have to force myself to read just a little bit more of a book I’m not enjoying to see if it will get better so I can finish it and count it on my list as “read”.  I don’t want to force myself to finish a book before going to bed, when what I actually want to do is veg on the couch and watch a movie that night.

Last year my life went a little off the rails. I barely read anything during the first trimester of my pregnancy. I was too tired, too nauseated. And then, when my son was stillborn, my reading went up and down like crazy. Some days reading was an escape. Other days, it was a chore. And I was constantly looking at my goal and getting stressed that I was behind or stressed about whether I would make it.

And that manufactured, self-imposed stress is not what I need. It’s not healthy for me.

So in 2019, I’ve set my Goodreads Reading Challenge to one book.

Yup. Just one. And that way, throughout the year when I inevitably read a lot more than that, I’ll feel accomplishment and not stress.

Reading should be fun. And I want to read whatever I feel like reading, regardless of how long or how short the book is.

So this year, I’ll probably read a lot of books. That’s part of who I am. But, I’m not aiming for a specific number. I’ll read what I want, when I want. And, if that number is a high number at the end of December, cool. If it’s not as high as this year, no worries.

I haven’t quite decided on my other reading goals for the year. Come back next Friday, for a post exploring different kinds of reading goals readers around the world are aiming for.

Why my 2019 reading goal is only ONE book on trishajennreads

  1. Our society is run on statistics to empower comparison and judgement. We also run on the measurement of time, down to the nanosecond. Congratulations for stepping away from the hamster wheel into at least the clean shavings! I hope your reading builds your world with ideas and deeper thinking as well as pure joy and fun.

    • We spend a lot of our time comparing ourselves to others, don’t we? I think this year’s step away from that will be refreshing. Thanks for reading!

  2. I’ve started setting mine really low the last couple years. It definitely helps in not feeling pressure but I find I still face pressure from other sources so I haven’t totally figured out how to completely avoid that yet

  3. I’ve lowered mine this year too. I actually just scheduled a similar post. Like you say, goals can be really motivating but once you start to slide behind it can just make it more and more stressful or force you to make different reading choices.

  4. Hallo, Hallo Trisha Jenn,

    I have been seeing a lot of s/o about this recently – where even #booktube is taking back the GR challenge on their terms! For me, this year I was compiling lists of stories I wanted to get into per each different category of interest that would in effect led me back inside the key focuses I wanted to give my time too: Classics, INSPY Lit and my Backlogue Reads. Everything outside of those focuses would be cream on a cake of delish offerings I am so eager to be reading *right now!* lol

    Although, for me, I didn’t have anxiety building about the lists themselves nor in the high volume of books I want to be reading. I seem to thrive when I’m a busy beaver; which is one reason I felt this year would be a good year to begin writing again. I have generally avg in the neighbourhood of 200 (-/+) books annually now since I started blogging which is a comfy spot to be in for me. I know there are so many stories I’m attracted to reading per year, I can see in the future that number increasing to either 300 or 400, especially once I start kicking in my research queues and/or if I start to re-devour #LoveINSPIRED Suspense or other stories where I’m reading for pleasure moreso than I am for review. Something that connected with me during July 2018 and I want to carry forward into 2019.

    Yet for me – those are just stats and numbers that seek to explain what I read and how I went about finding the books. I’d be equally as happy reading 100 to 150 books which might be where I left 2018! I haven’t yet complied the data on my top favourites (though I did tweet about them) and my overall final stats for the year. I find those surveys fun, not headachy as I like to see where I went and how it all measured out in the end. More for personal fodder than to even contemplate finding someone to cross-compare it with – I never did that – I never went into competition with someone else as a reader but that stems from my background in competitive swimming. It is really just you, the clock and how you feel in the water. No one is your enemy and no one is your competitor because the main person your competing against is yourself (and your ability).

    lol I think also — anyone whose stuck with me longer than the past year, would know it was only just within months (say, November!) where I finally was able to finish and stay with a RAL!! I’ve had so many false starts/stops with readathons and readalongs, rejection from the standpoint of not securing my goals I had inked out for any period of time is second nature now! I’m rather comfortable with my attempts – even if with good intentions, either life or health interfered, it simply wasn’t meant to happen for me.

    This might be why I am comfortable with that kind of system of tracking my own reading life – now, where I do get a bit more stress is when my health prevents me from reading and/or I have trouble focusing again after a severe migraine. I think that would get anyone stressed — if I’m able to read just a bit every day and able to move between review books and my own wanderings – those are my favourite ways to keep *balance* in my life. Where I’m not thinking about the stories I desire to read but can’t – as I can see myself moving towards them.

    Yes! Exactly what you said in the end – whatever works for each of us is the right approach! For me that meant joining the Category Challenge on LibraryThing and seeking out select reading challenges to funnel into my blog. Those actions left me feeling light as air as I finally for once felt more comfortable with the renewing sense of hope a New Year brings!! After all, it is literally just one story at a time to appreciate, enjoy and savour! If we find ones that are our cuppa, there are at least 10x behind that might be the next beloved read!

    • I’m so glad you found some reading challenges that inspire you instead of weighing you down, Jorie! Thanks, as always, for reading and commenting. 🙂

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