In 2021, I surpassed my reading goals and read 55 books. My goal was to read 21, because yeah, 2021. When I set the goal, I had just finished 2020 where I had read hardly anything. So I had no idea if reading 21 books was going to be reasonable or out of touch for me. But then I started this blog and got into the #Bookstagram community and my reading took off.
Be Willing to Adjust Your Expectations
First, a word on reading goals. If you read the first paragraph and went, gee whiz there is no way I could ever read 55 books in a year, then your approach is wrong. You never know what you have in you. You also never know what life is going to throw at you. We are entering year three of the panorama and things are tough for everyone in different ways. You have to set goals that work for you and your situation. Sometimes you meet the goals, sometimes they just need to be adjusted. I never thought that reading would be a turn off for me in 2020. But then 2021 breezed in and now I’m a voracious reader again.
Lots of Books, Many Different Page Counts
For me, as a mom of three children under the age of seven, fitting reading time into my schedule can often be difficult. It means that most of the time I am reading at night after the kids are in bed. If you check out my GoodReads and blog posts from the year, you will also see that I include children’s books in my book count. That’s because if I spend the time to read and review them, then I’m counting them! lol! So no, not all of the books in my count are of equal length.
A Peak Behind the Number
So when you are looking at other people’s reading goals, keep in mind that everyone isn’t reading 300+ page books every time. I like my books like I like my music: eclectic. The books I read represent the intersections of my identity. I read children’s books because I’m a mom (and addicted to beautiful illustrations). I read middle grade and YA because I’m an educator who is invested in bringing high interest books into the classroom. I read adult and literary fiction based on my interests and moods. I read nonfiction because I’m a former journalist and facts are just the way I roll. I read graphic novels because I love comic books. I read cookbooks because I love food history. I could go on and on. The important point is that end-of-the-year reading goals are just a number. It’s what is behind the number that is really interesting.
Life Changes and So Do Your Reading Habits
In 2019 I read 21 books. I was so happy. My coworker had introduced me to audiobooks as a means of reading and it was a game changer. (I might write a post later on why audiobooks are the key to reading for teachers and busy parents.) Many of the books I read, I ended up recommending to other educators. Then March 2020 hit like a Rocky punch to the eye and I dropped down to reading only 8 books that year.
I was too stressed to read anything that required too much focus.(I did read a lot of romances that didn’t require any thought-work from me, but I don’t count those in my official reading goals.) It took some renewal via the NCTE (National Council of Teachers of English) annual conference and the ALAN Workshop (Assembly on Literature for Adolescents of NCTE) for me to really get back into the reading game. I signed up for a NetGalley account and little by little, page by page, I started to read on a regular basis again. Reading has become my stress reliever.
A Message for 2022
Celebrate what you read in 2021, whether it is one book or just social media and blog posts about books that you would be interested in reading. If you want to set reading goals, set an easy one that you can meet by midyear or set a lofty one that will make you work for it. Move away from numbers and focus on pushing out of your comfort zone to different genres or decades or authors. It’s your choice! Have fun!