For nearly three weeks…
While I was also in the middle of a massive reading slump…
I tried not to let that influence my thinking.
I’ve finally started to enjoy writing notes about the books I’m reading. Not for review purposes, but just as a way to think through how stories work and what makes them work for me, specifically. In other words, figuring out the commonalities in what I like vs. what I don’t like.
So, I’m not ditching the reading journal…yet.
But, I decided that I definitely needed a new plan for how I track my reading stats. After all those weeks of reflection, I broke down and spent an evening modifying the most basic reading spreadsheet I could find and adapting it to track only the metrics I care about.
This new approach means that I’m using three different tools (Goodreads, reading journal, and spreadsheet) instead of just two (like last year), which is not ideal. BUT each of them are going to be used for different purposes. Here’s how I’m thinking it’s going to work…
Goodreads is a pretty good database tool. Its search function is not great, but I’m not planning on building my own database of books anytime soon, and I don’t think anyone else is doing the book database thing better. That probably has something to do with Goodreads being owned by Amazon, but whatever. I don’t need to (or want to) reproduce all that info in my spreadsheet when they already did it for me. So I will continue to use Goodreads to browse book covers and other relevant info when I am trying to decide what to read next.
Then, once I decide what I want to read, I’ll enter it into my spreadsheet. When I’m done reading, I’ll mark it as read on Goodreads, write some notes in my reading journal, and repeat.
That covers my process changes, but what about reading goals? That was the topic for this post, right?
At the end of 2021, I drafted up some pretty ambitious goals for 2022. Then I proceeded to enter a reading slump and read zero books for the first half of January. Not good.
I’m reading again now. So I’m going to give it a little more time before I revise my initial 2022 reading goals. I mean, goals are just goals. They’re meant to point you in a direction. You don’t have to necessarily achieve them. You are allowed to change your mind about your desired destination along the way.
When I drew that table on the left-hand page, I assumed I would be using it to tally up reading stats. I just wasn’t sure what stats I wanted to track, so I only made one column for number of books read each month. Since I decided to go the spreadsheet route, I’m going to leave that space blank and use it to write notes on my reading mood and/or trends for the month and/or my favorite book I read that month. TBD.
The right-hand page is where I really went big. Not only did I give myself more goals than last year, I also made myself a little TBR pocket. With sideways evergreen trees. Do you think that maybe I should have taken that as a sign that this was probably a bad idea? Can I hear you saying “uh oh… what was she thinking?”
Let’s break it down.
The first two goals aren’t bad. They are the same ones that I gave myself last year and that I give myself pretty much every year. Specifically:
- Read at least 52 books
- Read at least 12 books by Black authors, at least 12 books by non-Black authors of color, and at least 12 books by queer authors (or featuring a POV queer character with positive representation).
The problem is that I decided to add a few reading projects to challenge myself a bit:
- Read at least five indie-published books, and ideally not all by the same author — this goal is somewhat associated with Fantasy Romance February which I’m participating in this year.
- Read at least six non-fiction books about anti-racism and/or social justice — this is a continuation of the goals I set for myself after reading Me and White Supremacy last year.
- Read (or DNF and donate) at least three books from my unread physical TBR — my unread stack of paperbacks and hardcovers is getting too big, and I’m not buying any more bookcases.
At the moment, this seems like too many challenges, but I’m not going to give up yet. I’m planning on revisiting this list in a few months. I’ll see how I’m feeling about it then and recalibrate as necessary. This first quarter is particularly challenging for me because I have a lot of writing and publishing stuff that I’m focused on. Reading is taking a bit of a back seat. It’s probably not going to be like that all year, though. This may seem a lot more do-able by the end of March.
I have, at this point, finished at least one book this month. And I finally finished this post! Even better, I feel like I’m back in the reading groove. So I’ll have something to talk about in my January wrap up! Hooray!
Unfortunately, it’s nearly time to set up my reading journal for February…
I really hope your year in reading is off to a better start than mine!
Until next time, happy reading!