I started challenging myself to read a specific number of books five years ago, and I’ve reached my goal three years in a row. This year, my goal was to read forty-eight books, and in 2020, I plan to read fifty-two.
While that’s only four more books than in 2019, the idea that I’ll (basically) have to read one book per week is challenging and exciting.
Pick the right goal
If you want to set a reading goal, you have to choose the right number of books. It needs to be challenging and compelling enough.
If you choose an intimidating number, you’ll be too overwhelmed to enjoy reading. I’m not one to tell people to be realistic, but in this case, you have to be. If you want to up your goal from last year, don’t aim higher than ten more. For example, if you read thirty books, aim for forty.
“Books are a uniquely portable magic.” — Stephen King
If you decide on too little books, then it won’t be stimulating enough, and that’s part of the fun. Pick your goal now, and once you have, keep reading to find out how to reach your target.
1. Choose your books ahead of every month
You want to avoid scrambling to find a book to read on the day you’re already supposed to be reading it. Be prepared, and decide on the books you’ll read every month.
Pick the number of books according to your goal. For example, in order to reach my reading objective, I need to read five books in January because there are five weeks. So, I’ve checked out six or seven books from the library.
You want to check out or buy more than you need in case you don’t like one of the books. You can:
- Buy books online or a bookstore (thrift shops have inexpensive books)
- Buy audiobooks
- Go to your local library
- Check out e-books and audiobooks on Libby
2. Set individual deadlines for your books
Setting deadlines for books depends on the story you read, but it helps to have little goals along the way to make sure you’re staying on track.
For example, if you want to read three books per month, then figure out which days exactly you need to complete those books by. Some will take you a week, others two.
Throughout the year, you’ll meet the deadline, miss it by a day or two, or you’ll finish three days earlier than you expected. Whatever happens, never freak out, adjust your goals, and keep reading.
By the end of the month, you’ll have found a way to reach your goal anyway. Trust me. We do things we don’t believe we can when we realize we’re running out of time to do it.
3. Break down how many pages you need to read per day
Probably you know which books you can read in a few days and which ones will take you two weeks to finish. You might not have to break down the shorter or easier ones, but it helps to stay on track when you’re tackling larger books.
For example, I can read a YA novel in a couple of days, so I don’t need to figure out how many pages to per day. When I read The Stand by Stephen King last year, that’s exactly what I had to do.
You figure out how many pages to read by dividing the total number of pages in the book by the number of days you’ve given yourself to finish it. Your answer is how many pages you’ll read per day.
Example: 300 pages ÷ 14 days = 21 pages per day
4. Track the books you read
There’s nothing more satisfying than writing down the book you’ve reads and seeing that list grow throughout the year.
How you track your books is up to you. My sister, who’s an artist, draws the covers of the books she reads. I write down the book, author, and date I finished in a journal dedicated to the books I’ve read over the years.
Some people like to write short reviews or rate their books. You can do whatever the hell you want, but don’t do it just because it looks pretty in a bullet journal. If you’ll use it, do it. If you won’t, the title and author will do.
Those are the steps you need to follow to reach your 2020 reading goals, but there are a few more things I want to say. (Yes, bonus tips time!)
Never finish a book you don’t like
A book you dislike is going can take you weeks to finish, and it’s not worth your time. I don’t care if you’re fifty pages into a book, let that shit go if it’s boring you.
Make reading a habit
If you want to read more, you have to make time for reading. Challenge yourself to read every day from ten minutes to an hour.
Read on the go
More and more people are reading books because of audiobooks. Rather than listening to music while you work out or while you clean, listen to a book.
If you’re running out of time, pick a short book
In November, I was behind on my monthly goals. If I wanted to read forty-eight books this year, that meant I had to read eight in November. I only reached it because I chose YA books and short books.
This reading challenge is supposed to be fun. If you’re stressed or overwhelmed, reduce your goal or forget about it. Finish the book you’re reading without worry, and then get back to figuring out how you’ll reach your goal after.
A book is a dream you hold in your hands. — Neil Gaiman