3 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Set A Reading Goal
posted on October 25, 2018 | by Sanhita Mukherjee
I’ll admit it – I’m a serial reader. Before I am even quarter-way through my current book, I have my next three or four reads already lined up. My TBR pile has reached precarious heights, and I have this habit of buying books that I know I won’t even get to reading for the next couple of years. Which is why, reading goals that motivate you to read a certain number of books per year seemed like my kind of thing. Until I realized they are not!
Though such goals sometimes do encourage you to read more, they usually end up piling pressure on to something that used to be enjoyable before. Besides, such number targets are pretty arbitrary when you think about it. Is it really going to make a difference to you personally, if you read 49 books this year instead of 50?
Here’s why I do not set a reading goal for myself – and why you may not want to either.
You end up focusing on quantity, rather than quality
Sure, it feels great to set a lofty reading goal in January and announce to your friends that you are going to read 50 books this year. (Or more!). But goals like this miss out on something important. They focus only on the number, and don’t really account for the kind of books you read.
You may have had a rewarding reading year, finally getting around to enjoying denser classics like ‘War and Peace’ or ‘Ulysses’. Or you could have had a whole lot of fun reading fantasy trilogies, where each book is over a thousand pages. But as far as your goal is concerned, you’d still be falling behind!
Before you know it, it’s October, and you find yourself pushing away those big books on your TBR, and deliberately seeking out slimmer novels, just to hit that number target you set at the beginning of the year. You’re also less likely to be adventurous with the books you choose. You would rather pick up a book that you know would be a fast read than experiment with new genres that may slow you down – but may ultimately be something that you end up loving.
You don’t savor books anymore
Slowing down to enjoy each word, rereading a particularly well-written paragraph or pausing to look up some interesting fact you just read about are some of the things that enrich your reading experience. Unfortunately, these things are really tough to do when you are stressing about the number of books you still have to go through.
Rather than being in the moment and getting into the book you have at hand, your goal may cause you to rush through the story. Or skip sections just so you can get to the next book on your TBR. If you find yourself getting more satisfaction from ticking a book off your list than, you know, actually reading the book, it may be time for you to abandon your goal!
It gives you major FOMO
Should you read several books simultaneously? Are you missing out on exciting new releases? Should you take up speed reading? How is your friend already on her last book of her target number, with two months to spare? An ambitious reading goal is a quick way to develop that dreaded condition – the Fear Of Missing Out!
Remember that reading is supposed to be fun for you, and what (or how much) others are reading should not influence your literary choices. If you still want something to motivate you to read more, consider a challenge that aligns with the kind of books you personally would like to explore. For instance, there are loads of challenges that prompt you to read diverse authors or books that are set in different countries around the world. Once you’ve chosen your challenge, keep it up only as long as it feels enjoyable. The moment it starts feeling like a chore, step away and read the books that you actually want to.