In 2018, I discovered a fun book-centric website called Goodreads. It’s like Yelp for books – you can look up interesting or popular books, post the books you’ve read along with a review, and follow your friends and view each others’ books you’ve read.
My favorite part about Goodreads is the Reading Challenge. With the challenge, you can set yourself a goal to read X books by the end of the year. It’s extremely satisfying to read a book, mark the book as read in Goodreads, and see the progress bar fill ever so slightly to the right.
Let’s dive into my reading numbers from the last 4 years!
During my first year in Goodreads, I made a goal to read 10 books. I didn’t do so hot :/
To be fair, I did read books, but because I only inputted them into the website after the year ended, they never showed up. I believe I read 4, so I ended at 40%. During this time, I was still a frugal new-grad, so I preferred to not buy any books. Instead, opted to check books out at the library, where books abound for free! The main problem was that I never came to the library when it was open, so that stunted my reading journey.
The next year, I never set a goal. I apparently wasn’t on Goodreads or reading any books at all because I have no books inputted as read during that year. I must’ve been busy with many other things that year!
In 2020, I decided to give myself the goal of reading 15 books to motivate myself to do better than the year before.
How did I make it to 24 books? I owe it all to my secondhand Kindle. It was the best $35 investment I’ve ever made, as it opened up the world to digital lending. No more closed libraries for me! And as soon as I finished one book, I could hop into my Libby app and check out the next book.
I probably could also attribute that much reading to the downtime provided by 2020’s shelter in place.
We are now at present day with 16 days left in the year.
I have 7 more books to read in the last 3 weeks before it hits 2022. That means if I read one book every 2.3 days, I can make it! In fact, I’ve started to speed read the books in my rotation right now to help boost my numbers. But despite my desire to achieve my goal, this kind of pressure would make reading feel less enjoyable. I also realized that I’m looking at the challenge with too much of an achievement-based mindset.
Like an OKR, the reading challenge is not about hitting 100%; rather, the challenge is about setting an ambitious number of books to read that motivates you hit that number as close as you can. At 77%, I’m actually at an ideal completion percentage because that meant I set a challenging goal for myself. 30 was a good target number because I kept wanting to pick up the next book to hit my goal. And even though I wasn’t able to stay on schedule with my reading rate, checking my progress mid year and realizing I was behind helped me realize that I could dedicate more time to reading. While 30 books is the “destination”, the journey of reading one more book, immersing myself in other worlds, and discovering new good reads is more important than any number.
Although I may not hit my goal by the end of this year, I’ll sure do my darndest and enjoy myself in the process. And who knows – maybe for 2022, I’ll bump the reading challenge target even higher!