Am I a Reading Overachiever?

stack of books

photo credit

Since I started actively keeping track of my reading in 2007, my reading has increased.  In 2007 I read 78 books. In 2008, I actively set a goal to read at least 100 books.  I ended up reading 113.  Since I was so close to averaging 10 books a month, I set 120 for my 2009 reading goal. I hit my target coming in at exactly 120 right under the nose.

At the start of 2010, I didn’t actively set a new goal. I just wanted to keep pace.  I read a challenge idea somewhere in the blogosphere about paying yourself a dollar for each book read. I didn’t officially sign up but I participated anyway, assuming I’d have 120 dollars at the end of the year.

Towards the end of the summer, I realized that I wasn’t on track at all with keeping pace with previous years reading. At first it bugged me a little. Then I just stopped caring. I got busy. I fell into reading slumps.  I went long (for me) periods without reading. All this goal setting and failing was sorta stressing me out.

At the end of the year, my total was 80 books.  A good 40 books less than previous years, but I think this is what more on par with what my normal reading trend is (if 2007 is any indication) when I’m not trying to fulfill a million challenges and keep reading goals.

Looking back, I can see that my reading ebbs and flows.  I usually start the year with a bang reading in spurts. I read a lot in the spring, which is naturally boosted up by the readathon. In the summer my reading slows down a bit and trends more towards light and chocolate-y. The fall brings an influx due to colder weather and curling up with blankets and hot chocolate. Then it slows down again as the holidays get closer.

This year, I’ve decided only to participate in a couple of reading challenges. I have decided to not set any reading goals.  I will continue to branch out and read outside my comfort zone, while also fitting in favorite authors and new releases I’m looking forward to. 

However, I will accept that I won’t read the same amount of books every month. Some months are busier than others. Some months I am less inspired. Other months I am super inspired and gobble up books like a dessert binge. I’m okay with that.

What about you? Do you set reading goals? Does it ever interfere with your reading habits? Perhaps even stress you out a bit? (Or is that just me?)

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26 Responses to Am I a Reading Overachiever?

  1. In the past I was a bit obsessed about increasing my total books read amount each year. However in 2010, I went back to work full-time, instead of part -time and knew I could not keep up my self-imposed challenge, so now I just read what and when I want to.

  2. Kimberly says:

    This year was the first time that I’ve set reading goals — I’ve always been a big reader, so I never really thought about it (except when I was a kid and we did Book It! in school , where you read to get free miniature pan pizzas at Pizza Hut). Last year, though, I did find that I wasn’t reading nearly as much as I had been in the past. And then I discovered Goodreads. I’ve got a good to-read list going, and think I’ll be able to keep it more consistent this year.

  3. I set a goal in 2009, I think, and made it, but it darn near killed me. Last year and this year I just decided to read as much or as little as I wanted to. So I read fewer books, but I think I enjoyed them more. Now that I’ve got my handy dandy nook, I’m actually reading more because I can easily fit hundreds of books into my purse and read what I want, when and where I want.

    • Bumbles says:

      I just started reading on my iPad and am thrilled with how easy it is to read a big fat chunkster on the go. I do miss just picking up and flipping through a book or seeing how much farther I have to go or how far I have come. Looking at stats on a screen just isn’t quite the same.

    • jehara says:

      I remember that! You read over 365 books that year.

  4. Bumbles says:

    I decided that this year I would do 1 thing regarding reading goals – I would only read what I really really wanted to read. Those ones that for whatever reason keep getting bumped for a group discussion selection or some such thing. I have a huge list of titles recorded on Goodreads that I want to read at some point. I am now going to sort them and put the ones I would most like to read at the top of the list and just pick from those. I still want to read 1 more than the year before – but sometimes my selections are really long books and so the “stats” get misrepresented.

    • jehara says:

      I tried keeping track of my page count last year but I just couldn’t keep up with it. So yeah, sometimes the number gets misrepresented because it may be a bunch of smaller books or a few big books.

      • Bumbles says:

        Goodreads tracks your page count automatically for you – provided you are electing the appropriate addition that you read it gives you a built-in tally right along with the number of books. Super cool.

      • cransell says:

        Ooh, thanks for the GoodReads tip, Bumbles. I use Good Reads, but had never noticed that it would track my page numbers before. More fun with statistics!

  5. cransell says:

    I like to keep track of my reading and see where I end up at the end of the year. I do often set general reading goals – read more non-fiction or poetry or fiction by men, etc, but I don’t do very well with specific challenges (read these 10 books in the next six months).

  6. Kathleen says:

    I really don’t set reading goals. I read what I want, when I want. For me reading is an escape so putting a bunch of pressure on myself to reach a certain number makes it feel like business and I have enough deadlines to meet in my work life. That being said I do sign up for book tours and have no problem meeting my obligations for those. As long as I don’t sign up for too many it doesn’t end up feeling like “work”. I always think it’s cool when people in the blogosphere talk about how many books they read in a month or quarter or year and sometimes I feel myself getting competitive and thinking I will track my numbers but then I stop myself, take a deep breath, and just sit down and enjoy my books!

  7. ds says:

    Having blown every challenge I attempted last year, I have given up on them. No goals for me (other than the pledge to read what’s already here). Happily working my way–slowly–through my piles. Speaking of piles and looking at the photograph, when did you sneak into my house?? 😉

  8. izzybella says:

    Oh, I like Bumble’s goal-only reading what you love. I remember when I was finished with college and I promised myself I would never again read anything I didn’t want to!!

    And that truly is what jehara’s stacks of books look like. 🙂 I always got a huge kick out of hanging at your flat and seeing your book piles all over the place…

  9. Staci says:

    I do set reading goals but am fine with it when I fall short!!

  10. Margot says:

    I enjoyed reading about everyone’s reading goals here. I also like to set goals and enter reading challenges. But I also tell myself that if I don’t accomplish the goal or meet the challenge, it’s not the end of life for me. That way each book that I read isn’t a “have-to-read” which feels more like a classroom assignment.

    The reason I like (and join) so many reading challenges is because it gets me to reading very interesting and fun books I’d never pick up on my own. For instance, this year I decided to join the Civil War challenge. I’ll read three books about the war or set during that time period. I know I’ll find some books I love. On the other hand, if I don’t read all three, what’s the worst that could happen to me? I won’t get stressed out if I don’t complete the challenge.

    Reading is one of life’s great pleasures. A book takes me places and introduces me to people I would never experience otherwise. It’s a pleasurable adventure. If something gets in the way of all that, then it’s time to cut out whatever is getting in the way of that pleasurable adventure.

    • Bumbles says:

      Just don’t do the trifecta I did for the Civil War:
      -Gone With The Wind
      -Andersonville
      -Red Badge of Courage

      Oh sure – they were all fantastic books. But the size of those first two? Holy cow. A bit too ambitious. I was in high school and my English teacher thought they’d make a perfect combination for me to read and compare for a paper. Talk about a challenge! But I did it. And learned a lot. That’s the nice part about challenges – you are right.

  11. Since starting to blog in 2009, I found myself reading for speed – to have something to post about, to join a discussion, to complete a challenge. I was always checking to see how many pages were left or wondering what short book I could read quickly for a post. It was sucking the fun out of reading – and I’ve loved reading since I learned the alphabet. So this year I’m back to reading only what I truly want to read and actually enjoying the story.

    • izzybella says:

      This is SO TRUE. I think you can miss so much when you plow through a story. Reading challenges can be really educational, but I admit the only ones I’ve ever completed successfully covered books or a genre I was already interested in.

  12. Annie says:

    I set reading goals enter books challenge and open a books blog for the first time this year ! I began a month ago… and it stesses me a lot ! But, in the other side I find I read much better and that I discover books I never would have readen without them !
    Sorry for my english !

    • jehara says:

      Wow! You’ve accomplished a lot in a short time span!

      Reading challenges are great for getting you out of the reading comfort zone. I have definitely expanded my reading horizon by playing along.

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