Every January, I set a goal (often publicly shared) for the number of books I hope to read during the calendar year. As with many goals, my annual number has steadily creeped higher.
This doesn’t seem uncommon. Goodreads and our favorite book blogs encourage us to set reading goals, and many of us tend to get unintentionally competitive about it. With that ever-expanding number of books to read, the same thing happens almost every year... December rolls around and I’m inevitably behind in my goal.
I scramble. I blaze through a graphic novel series or a succession of shorter books... All so I can proudly and publicly declare: “I read an arbitrary number of books this year!”
All of this — the arbitrary goal and the reading for the sake of ticking off boxes — misses the point. I realize that being an obsessive achiever has caused me to lose sight of why I love to read.
I love to read because I crave exploration and new experiences. I love to read because I can meet interesting new people without leaving the comfort of my home. I love to read because it’s one of the closest things I can do to uploading information straight into my cerebral cortex.
This year, I’m reading for quality instead of quantity. Instead of 20, 50 or 100 books, I’m focusing on the ones I’m really excited about, the ones that help me grow, and the ones I can’t wait to discuss.
I’m going to let myself take a month to read a 600-page book because that is how it should be enjoyed. I’m going to read the short stories and essays because length does not indicate quality or significance. I’m going to get excited about all types of books and media formats because all of it is valid and worthy of my time.
As your local librarian, I’m here to tell you that reading isn’t a competition. It should be something you do because you enjoy doing it. If you love goals, try reading for breadth. Try reading only works in translation, a classic that you missed, or something that's been adapted to the screen so you can truly say if the book was better (maybe it isn’t).
So, here’s to 2020 being a year of reading for you. I hope you love everything you read — whether that’s 100 books, 10 or two.