Most people like to set their goals for the new year in December. Typically on the last day of December, they’ll do some bullshit called “setting New Year’s resolutions”.
I don’t believe in setting New Year’s resolutions. And I don’t believe in waiting to the last minute of the year to set my plans for the next year.
So I’m setting goals for various areas of my life now in November and today I want to share a few of my reading goals for 2018.
These reading goals are a bit unconventional but I’ll explain my reasoning and you might just want to adopt them yourself.
Reading Goal #1: Stop being a literary dick measurer
What I basically mean is:
Slow the fuck down.
One of the biggest problems slightly OCD, overachiever, A-type bookworms have is the need to devour a metric shit ton of books.
I watched a lot of BookTube videos this year (basically just book-lovers spreading their love of books) and the thing that astounded me was just how common this sentiment is in the book world:
Yeah, I only read 12 books this month. I’m so depressed. I should just kill myself because I’m such a slow reader and all-round shitty person.
You see this on BookTube, in book forums, in book clubs, on Goodreads – anywhere avid book lovers congregate, you will see intense efforts to “read 100 books in a year” or “read 3 books a week” or whatever.
Why do we use the metric of “books read” to measure our value as readers?
I found myself doing this and you wanna know the result?
- I skim-read books and miss chunks of story
- I constantly feel like I’m “behind”
- I never enjoy what I’m reading
Shouldn’t we use these better, admittedly less quantifiable, metrics when it comes to reading?
- How much we enjoyed the book
- What we learned from the book
- How the book has impacted our lives
I’m sick of buying books and then never finishing them or even starting them because I feel a built up pressure from my own personality and the book-lover community to read more, more, more.
So my main reading goal for 2018 is to slow the hell down and enjoy my books more.
The rest of my goals are subservient to this one main goal.
Reading Goal #2: Nix the infinite TBR
Fuck never-ending TBR lists.
Us book lovers are literary hoarders.
We collect book recommendations and “add them to our TBR” as if that means we’re actually ever going to read them. What really happens is we become overwhelmed and we spend too much time mentally masturbating over what we’re going to read when we should just spend that time actually reading.
A 12-book TBR for the year.
And actually plan on reading them.
That’s one a month.
Literally pick 12 books you’ve always 100% wanted to read – not books you think you should read or books you might read someday – books you ACTUALLY want to read and map them out.
One book per month.
You’ll probably read more than one book per month in a year but don’t let your TBR go past 12 books you actually have concrete plans for reading.
Limits create freedom.
If I tell you to only have 12 books on your TBR and plan to actually read one of them each month, you will be damn sure you pick a great book.
If you have no numerical limit on your TBR, it will be endless and filled with mediocre slop that you don’t actually want to read. In addition, the size of the list will just overwhelm you and you’ll start skim-reading to get through all that crap.
Batch your TBR research so you aren’t doing it ad-hoc and you can spend the new year literally just reading.
A nice lazy Sunday evening with a glass of red wine, a pad and pen, and a couple of tabs of book websites and you’ll have your TBR ready to go by the end of the night.
Reading Goal #3: Eat your vegetables
I want my year of reading to be memorable.
That means minimising the amount of bland forgettable books and increasing the amount of books that have a tangible impact on my life.
Books like Man’s Search for Meaning have rewarded me countless times since first reading.
I want lots of experiences.
I don’t just want to kill time.
Of course, I love my pulp and want to get stuck into a good story but I want to schedule my “thinking person” books to ensure I stay sharp.
So get your literary vegetables lined up when you make your 12 book TBR.
Don’t eat vegetables you don’t like. Find tasty ones. I like broccoli and beetroot but can’t stand onions. Just because something’s good for you doesn’t mean it will taste bad. Pick the stuff that’s good for you and you enjoy.
Need some help picking your bookish veggies?
Here is a criteria I recommend you use as a guide:
- Pick at least one bulky classic (500-page whoppers like Moby Dick)
- Pick at least one Nobel Prize winner
- Pick at least one Pulitzer Prize winner
- Pick at least one Man Booker Prize winner
Reading Goal #4: Track that shit
I’m scaling down my reading and slowing down my pace so that should leave a gap of time for something equally important:
Journalling and reviewing.
What’s the point in reading a book if you don’t reflect upon it and consolidate the information?
I want to truly appreciate a book and then spend a fair amount of time articulating what I gained from the book and how I can apply things I learned to my own life.
There are three ways I will do this:
- Start using Goodreads – this will be quick-fire, micro-blogging style to keep a digital catalogue of books read.
- Keep a physical journal and handwrite things I learned from each book.
- Keep my monthly Book Club Newsletter updated.
Those are the main reading goals for 2018
I have a bunch of smaller ones that include:
- Fully immersing in one book by consuming written and audio version simultaneously.
- Following an on-going series and finding a new one to become excited about.
- Have a dedicated 1-hour wind-down reading session before bed.