2023 Reading Goals
What should you read, how often, and to what end
Every year I commit to reading a certain number of books.
For a while, I was reading well over a hundred. All kinds, too. Fiction, biographies, YA, memoir, self-help, and graphic novels.
If it made a list or a blogger I like posted about it, I was eager to get my mealy mitts on them.
This compulsion to digest and consume and keep up started back in college.
Back in college
I was an impressionable undergrad in Athens, GA, and Junot Diaz came to speak.
It was a full auditorium. And as he walked across the stage to roaring applause, he had a certain type of swagger about him.
He said a lot during his hour up there. He read excerpts from his spectacular novel “The Brief and Wonderous Life of Oscar Wao.” He talked about teaching at MIT. He talked about how he grew up a nerd and read comics often.
I couldn’t tell you the specifics or details of any of it.
There is one thing he said, however, that really landed with me.
He said, “If you want to be a writer, and you’re not reading a book every 2-3 days. That’s not going to cut it.”
That throwaway comment changed everything for me.
It’s why, for a while, I was reading over a hundred books a year. That was a book every 3-4 days.
But, it begs the question:
Is reading 100 books a year really worth it?
Well, like most things, it depends on who you ask.
For me: probably not.
I have a job, I have family and friends, and a dog and deep need to be outside as much as possible. I like to cheers on porches and climb on rocks. I love to read— it’s something that’s foundational to who I am. But (and I feel deep gratitude that I get to say this) I love to do a lot of other things, too.
Reading 100 books a year was a bit too much for me.
So much so that when November and December came around I dreaded picking up that novel or punching into my Libby app.
I started to resent the very act of reading— this thing that has saved my life again and again and again. I began to despise it.
And that very feeling begged me to reevaluate why I set the goal in the first place.
Why set a reading goal?
For some, I think it’s to create better habits.
For others, maybe it’s a reason to brag.
And, I’m sure, there are a few folks that fall somewhere in between those two.
I set out to read 100 books because I wanted to push myself.
In that respect, I pushed myself too hard.
So now, I’m taking a step back and setting my reading goal to something that, for me, is much more managable.
I want to read because I love it, and I want to encourage myself to read regularly and often, simply because I love it.
Genre, page length, format… none of it matters.
The entire point of my reading goal can be boiled down in one word: pleasure.
What should you read?
There’s no such thing as a guilty pleasure.
You shouldn’t feel guilty about the things you love. Ever.
So, don’t feel guilty about the books you love.
If you like romance, read romance.
If you like Dostoevsky, read Dostoevsky.
If you like queer YA novels, read queer YA novels.
If you decide you want to read the 50 Shades of Gray series 50 times this year. Do it and don’t apologize.
How often should you read?
If you’re trying to build better habits, read 20 minutes before work or 20 minutes before bed. It’s a small chunk of time and easy to sneak in.
If 20 minutes is too great of a stretch, no problem. Download a reading app.
I use Libby. It’s free and connects to your library. Put it on the home screen of your phone. Instead of scrolling through social media, click into that app, and read instead.
There’s no right or wrong way to read. No right or wrong limit to put on your reading.
Make it fit into your life as is, not how you wish it to be someday.
Why read when you can watch tv?
Because reading is magic. It allows you to occupy the singular headspace of another person. It allows you to engage your imagination and develop greater respect and understanding for humanity.
It pushes you to learn and actively engage in your learning.
And if you’re a writer, reading is one of the surest and best ways to get better.
Thanks for reading,