row f books, pages out and spines up.

Goodreads Reading Goals are all about the numbers.

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

I made it…barely. I was excited to see that gorgeous big number, but I found it difficult and stressful and frustrating to get there. It made me feel like I had to read, even when I didn’t want to.

For someone who has always loved reading, reading became a chore.

And I didn’t like how that made me feel.

I realized that wasn’t what goals were supposed to do. Yes, they should inspire and push you, but they shouldn’t stress you and make you want to cry. (And yeah, I did cry a few times while trying to make it to that goal. Sure, some of those tears were actually because of big life things, but the pressure of reaching that goal did not help my already stressed self.)

So in 2019, I set my Goodreads Reading Goal to 1 book.

Just one.

And I read 87 books.

Sure, that’s not as many books as the year before, and 87 isn’t nearly as pretty or prestigious sounding as 100, but it’s still a lot of books.

I felt free and able to read when and what I wanted. I wasn’t stressed about how many books I was reading, or if the book I really wanted to read was too thick and would take too long. I chose books based on if I wanted to read them at that moment rather than if I needed to read them to check them off some imaginary list or if they were short so I could quickly read them and have them count towards my goal.

In 2020, my Goodreads Reading Goal is a modest 15 books.

a stack of books with a pair of glasses on top

It’s seems like a random number. And it is! I know I will likely read at least 50 books. That’s who I am. I’ve been a reader since I was a tiny girl. I always have a book with me – usually a print copy of something along with an audiobook and the Kindle and Kobo apps on my phone.
So why 15 books? Because while I loved the no-pressure feeling of not having a big goal and constantly seeing the “you’re 8 books behind” messages, I missed the high of the “you’ve met your goal!” message part-way through the year. I met that one book goal on January 5 last year so didn’t get the extra burst of accomplishment.

By setting a low goal, I’m still inspiring myself but also keeping things stress-free.

I’m looking at other types of reading goals for this year too.

I’m participating in The Unread Shelf Project 2020.

What is The Unread Shelf Project 2020? It’s a reading challenge to read the books you already have on your shelves rather than constantly buying and borrowing new books.

The first part of the challenge was to count the number of unread books on your shelves.

I have 80 unread books on my bookshelf.

That’s nearly as many books as I read last year! And that number is only my print books. I didn’t even look at my audiobook and ebook collections.

The Unread Shelf Project is hosted by the lovely Whitney on her website and on her bookstagram (bookish Instagram). Each month, she offers extra challenges with tasks like doing a book-buying ban for the month or reading the book that’s been on your shelf the longest. The main goal is to read at least one book from your unread shelf each month.

My other reading goal—keep reading what I’m enjoying.

I’ve gone through phases in which I only read classics (yes, I was that person after university), read only romance, read only YA, read only fantasy, read only books that were hyped, or only books that I felt I needed to review. And it was exhausting!

In 2020, I will continue my reading trends from 2019 — I will read what I feel like reading when I feel like reading it. Sure, I’ll probably still do some reviews of ARCS if I’m lucky enough to get them. But for the most part, I will read whatever it is I’m in the mood for.

In 2019, I read a lot of romance, a lot of women authors, and a lot of books about women. To be completely honest, I loved it. And, I will continue reading those types of books. On top of that, I want to read more books by authors of colour. I’m not sure how many are on my shelf right now, but that might be my criteria for books I buy or borrow – they have to be by authors of colour. It’s definitely something to think about. Reading about people who are different from us can teach us so much by giving us insight into different ways of experiencing the world.
Reading goals can inspire us to read more books, to read more diversely, and to read more of what we enjoy. And I think those are the kinds of positive goals I like.

What are your reading goals for 2020?

What I've learned about reading goals and how to make them stress-free on trishajennreads

Photos by Kari Shea and Tom Hermans on Unsplash