“Read, read, read. Read everything — trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You’ll absorb it.
Then write. If it’s good, you’ll find out. If it’s not, throw it out of the window.”
― William Faulkner
As writers, reading is often an essential part of our lives. Books are our tutors. They feed our writing, showing us what works in a narrative and what doesn’t, helping us understand our genres. At the same time, they often act as our inspiration, allowing us to be the audience, to remember why we love stories in the first place. It isn’t surprising, then, that many writers tend to set reading goals at the beginning of a new year. We resolve to read more, perhaps determined to read 30 or 40 or 50 books before next January hits. I’ve noticed a few people on my social media announcing a goal of 52 books this year, one for each week, which I think is admirable.
However, I find that I struggle with hitting a specific number of books. I feel like when I’m trying to reach a particular number, the books I’m reading near the end of the year aren’t as enjoyable. I’m too busy trying to fill my quota to really get lost in the stories. So instead, I try to set more qualitative goals for myself and thought you might enjoy trying them as well.
3 Reading Goals To Try in 2022:
1: Take A Reading Challenge–
Reading challenges are fun because they encourage you to try out different genres or themes, leaving lots of room for flexibility. One challenge I usually join with fellow staff members at my library is the PopSugar reading challenge. It has 40 prompts to complete the challenge, with 10 bonus prompts to try. However, even if you don’t finish it (I often don’t, I admit), it’s still a fun way to motivate yourself to read different kinds of stories. Another idea is to look for a book-a-month challenge. If you search #readingchallenge on Instagram, you’ll find a variety of prompts posted by different book bloggers, usually one for each month of the year.
2: Build Your Own Challenge–
If you can’t find a challenge you like, try creating your own. Make a list of reading goals based less on numbers and more on what you’d like to get out of your reading. Do you want to read more in the genre you’re writing? Challenge yourself to finish at least 5 new titles in that genre before the end of the year. Do you want to expand your reading tastes? Make it a goal to try at least three genres you don’t normally read, to start listening to audiobooks on the way to work, or to read a few books translated from international authors.
3: Start a Reading Journal–
One of my New Year’s goals is to start keeping a journal specifically for the books I read. Oftentimes after finishing a story, I find myself picking up a scrap piece of paper or my diary, and scribbling down all my thoughts about the characters or settings or themes. This reflection allows me time to notice more of the details in the book, to put into words what I loved about the narrative and what I wished had been different. So this year, I want to be intentional about making time to reflect, even for just a few minutes, on each book I finish.
A reading journal can include how ever much or little detail you’d like. You can add dates of when you started and finished the book, thoughts on why you loved or hated the story, speculation of what you think happens after the story ends. Whatever you include, reflecting on stories is a great exercise that helps us take in more as readers, which can help us develop tools for our writing.
What reading goals are you setting for 2022?