How to set a yearly reading goal
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How to Set a Yearly Reading Goal and Stick to It

"How to Set a Yearly Reading Goal and Stick to It" by Grace Stetson is a resource for readers who want to win their Goodreads Reading Challenge Goal, like Grace did with 52 books in a year. Check out how Grace Stetson did it and how you could too.

“How to Set a Yearly Reading Goal and Stick to It”

by Grace Stetson

This is the featured photo for How to Set a Yearly Reading Goal and Stick To it by Grace Stetson for Independent Book Review

Are you struggling to stick to your reading goal?

My friends and family have always identified me as a “reader.” Every year, I get some sort of gift specifically for book lovers. When I prepared to move from the Bay Area to Chicago, the first thing I packed was six boxes of books. In my Brooklyn apartment, friends always comment on our bookcase, to which my roommates correct them to say, “It’s mostly Grace’s.” 

It’s true—I love books, I love reading, and I love writing (probably why I have those degrees in English and journalism). Yet, for a long while, I never spent much time reading for pleasure, whether that be because of my commute or my Netflix binges or my consistent hiking or—perhaps—a combination of all of the above. 

For 2019, I set a yearly reading goal after many years of never fulfilling my Goodreads Reading Challenge Goal. This year, I was going to read a total of 52 books.

As daunting as my aims were, I succeeded mere hours before the ball dropped in Times Square, which made me feel incredibly accomplished, satisfied and relieved. 

Here are just a few of the lessons I learned to help me stick to my yearly reading goal in 2019, and ones that I will continue to utilize as I keep picking up my next reads.

The library is your best friend

Although I own lots of books, I often strive to read something else (much to the annoyance of my loved ones). In January 2019, I hadn’t fully utilized the library just down the street and, as soon as I was able to figure out their very intuitive and helpful website, I began putting in request after request for book holds.

Because of this, I was able to get more books that I wanted to read in a timely fashion, and use the system to find audiobooks, similar books to those I was checking out, and new releases. Without the continued benefits of my local branch, I wouldn’t have read many of the books I did in 2019, which would have made it much more difficult to stay focused and interested.

Don’t waste your time on books you don’t like

One of the best things I learned from a coworker at Disney Publishing was: If a book doesn’t catch your interest within the first 50 pages, stop reading it. 

As much as it pains me to stop reading a book (can you tell I’m not a quitter?), there truly is no reason to continue reading anything that doesn’t grab you. Although I did read 52 books last year, that doesn’t account for the books that I started and just couldn’t finish. I even made it over 175 pages through a very well-regarded debut novel by a renowned journalist, and just could not finish it.

Remember: You’re not failing for not finishing. Use that time to go find a book that aligns with your needs a bit more — likely to be found at your local library!

Looking for some new books to request at your local library? Look no further than our staff-recommended book reviews here.

Follow your favorite authors online for related book recommendations.

One of the best things about social media is that there is now a way for readers to connect with their favorite authors. I’ve randomly connected with powerhouse writers like Brandon Taylor, Sam Irby, and Blythe Roberson through my continued deep-dives into staying up-to-date with all things literature, and following incredible voices like these help to provide us with context for other book recommendations.

Through authors like these, I was able to discover Lane Moore’s How to Be Alone: If You Want To, and Even If You Don’t, Nikesh Shukla’s The Good Immigrant, and Halle Butler’s “The New Me,” among many, many others.

Don’t stick to just one genre

One of the best books I read in 2019 was a random find during a trip. As I approached the end of 2019, I looked through my bookshelf at home and found Pablo Picasso’s Desire Caught by the Tail, a short farcical play by the painter that I had picked up in Montreal. I had bought the book because, truly, who knew Picasso was a playwright?

While I’m not the biggest fan of plays or the magical realism genre, the play was short and sweet, and proved that not everything I was reading needed to fit into a specific category. Throughout 2019, I not only read lots of contemporary fiction, but also lots of essay compilations, nonfiction think-pieces, and true crime novels. 

Looking to expand the genres you’re interested in? Here’s one of our favorite blog posts, “7 Indie Genre Fiction Publishers to Keep an Eye On.”

Be patient with yourself

Now, as much as I was striving to read one book a week, it didn’t always work out that way, often because of work stress, tiredness, or the like. While I could have been disappointed and used those pauses to give up entirely, it gave me more insight to really re-evaluate my why. Why did I want to complete this challenge? 

In all honesty, it was largely because I love a challenge and I’m not a quitter. However, there are also many amazing books that I wanted to read. Because of that, it was important to give myself the credence to continue, and keep reading great books.

Although I don’t know if I’ll ever complete a goal as unnerving as this again, the lessons I learned throughout the challenge will stick with me forever. I highly recommend challenging yourself to go beyond your typical aims for that reading list and, who knows? Perhaps you’ll be able to surprise yourself before “Aude Lang Syne” plays again.

About the Author

This is an author photo for Grace Stetson, who contributed this blog post on setting and sticking to a yearly reading goal.

Grace Stetson is a woman of many hats (as her last name would suggest), including a freelance writer, copy editor and researcher for sites like Apartment Therapy, HelloGiggles and NBC News. With all of those responsibilities, she still makes time to read. Read more of her work at her website:

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