As we come to the end of the calendar year, I notice many people posting about meeting their reading goals for the year. I've got to admit, I both love and hate the idea of having reading goals.
On one hand, I like the idea of taking the time to plan what I hope to accomplish, because it forces me to think about what, exactly, I want/need to focus on. It holds me accountable each time I look at the list and see what percentage of my goal I've conquered. Each checkmark satisfies my sense of "ducks in a row."
On the other hand, the very things I like about setting reading goals are the same ones that make me feel trapped. If I find myself falling short at a certain point in the year, I get stressed out. As things continue to progress, if I get behind more and more, I feel like I have to force myself to catch up, even if I'm dealing with quantity over quality so I can check off those boxes. One more duck in a row. If I find out that there is no row, the ducks are everywhere, and they're actually not ducks at all, but rather rabid squirrels—squirrels that are completely incapable of ever, ever making a row—well, then we have a problem.
Something I did this year with a semi-half-thought-out-maybe-almost-not-planned effort was to list the books I'm currently reading on my Goodreads home page. I can list what I'm reading, see my progress (by percentage or page number, so there's gimmicky fun involved that I can even do from my phone), and when I'm finished with each book, I am right there on one of the two places I leave book reviews. How handy, you might say! It is.
I can have the progress in plain sight without the pressure of a goal and deadline. I start when I want, finish when I can, and slowly see accomplishments piling up.
Another not-goal-but-more-of-a-guideline is that I promised myself I'd do a couple specific things:
- I would have one non-fiction book happening at all times. This book would fall into the category of writing or editing and would be something that helped me in my work.
- I would read more classics. We used to read a lot of them aloud to our kids when they were younger, and I've gotten out of the habit of reading the more challenging stuff. My current classic is Crime and Punishment and though I'm enjoying it, I find I don't want to pick it up unless I have a solid block of time to get in the groove of it. This is making a really long book feel even longer.
- I would read books written by the author bloggers I follow. I follow, visit, and comment on a good number of blogs. Many of those bloggers are authors, both traditionally and independently published. Something I notice is a lot of cheering but not always a lot of follow-through. The equivalent for me would be having everyone read and comment supportively on my blog but never recommend me when someone's looking for a copyeditor. I decided to randomly choose books these authors had written or were talking about, and have found a nice selection of good work so far.
After the new year gets underway, I'll be sharing my favorite books on writing and editing, based on my first sort-of-not-really-a-goal. I'd love to hear from you if you'd like to share a book that has had an impact on you, and I'll be featuring those in the second part of that post series. Drop me an email and tell me the name of the book and why it's memorable to you.
Until then, happy reading!
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