In this episode, I share 9 lessons I learnt when I set a 100-book goal in 2023. You can listen to the episode below or keep scrolling to read the post.
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100 Book Goal
Lesson 1: I don’t like restrictions
In October I decided to only read fantasy books to get in the Halloween mood. I LOVE fantasy books, it’s one of my favourite genres so I didn’t see this being a problem.
However, a few days in I almost stopped reading because I didn’t feel like reading fantasy but I felt like I couldn’t read anything else.
This is silly, right? Not only was I putting this restriction on myself so I could easily sway from it if I wanted, but I preach all the time about stitching what you love. This applies to reading too.
Why, oh why, did I not just pick up a different genre?
I actually don’t know the answer to that. Looking back I think I just wanted to keep that magical feeling alive. And I wanted to see the challenge out.
I did not read much in October and I think it’s one of the biggest reasons I didn’t hit my goal.
But at least I learned that I can’t just stick to one genre any more.
In December I decided to read a lot of Christmas-themed books. I still read other themes/genres though, and December ended up being the month I read the most books.
Lesson 2: I love a list
I love a list; especially a reading list. You can listen to me talk about how I make my reading lists here.
Making a reading list means that you will actually have those books to read. For example, you buy them on Kindle, you reserve them from the library or you dig them out of your bookshelf.
You don’t have to stick to your list (I rarely do) but having it there means that you always have something you want to read next.
I know you probably use Goodreads and track your want-to-reads on there. But I’m going to guess your want-to-read list is in the hundreds.
Making a monthly or seasonal reading list helps you narrow it down. If you are trying to find a book to read next and you have to look through 250 books on your Goodreads list and just find one, it can get very overwhelming.
In fact, this is another reason why I decided to only read fantasy in October; to make making a list easier. I just had to find 10 fantasy books on my list and it was done.
Sometimes my list is just my holds from the library. If it’s audio and a popular book I usually have a few weeks to wait for it. Right now I have 10 books on hold from the library (the maximum you can have). 1-2 become available every week and then I put another 1-2 on hold which means I almost always have a constant rotation of audiobooks coming through.
How do I know what to put on hold next? That is my next lesson.
Lesson 3: I love a series
It wasn’t until the end of 2023 that I read a proper series. I say “proper” because I read a collection (Avalon Bay). This was crazy to me when I realised because before this I almost always read a series. I love a series, but somehow I forgot that.
God bless Percy Jackson and my sister for reminding me.
I have been thinking about why I love a series so much. Of course, because we always want more at the end of a book and a series gives us that.
But also, it gives you something to read next without even having to think about it. If you loved the first book, chances are you will love the next ones so you can just dive right into book 2/3/4. Unless there is a 16-week wait at your library for the third book.
I will definitely be reading more series’ in 2024.
Lesson 4: The number doesn’t matter
At the end of the year, I hadn’t hit my goal, but I didn’t even care. I just wanted to read more than I had in previous years. I ended the year with 91 books read. The most books I had read in one year before that was 35.
I went for 100 because I knew it was a huge stretch goal, but not so ridiculous that it seemed impossible. This was a nice middle ground. The actual number doesn’t matter; you just need to find a number that makes you read more. Which is the point of a reading goal.
For example, if the most you have read in one year is 10 books, then setting a 100-book goal might seem impossible for you. To go from reading, on average, 1 book a month to 10 is a lot. But what about going from 1 book to 3? It might seem like a stretch, but not impossible. If you set your goal at 30 books, you might not get to 30 but I bet you would get to over 10.
Of course, only you know yourself. Maybe you would start to feel disheartened knowing you were never going to reach your goal so you give up on trying. If this is you then maybe a stretch goal wouldn’t work. In this case, I would put a lower number or the same as you usually read in one year so that you can feel that motivation when you hit your goal.
I will say one thing about that though. Not hitting my goal last year, but coming very close has only given me more motivation this year to try again. I did not think I would set another 100-book goal for 2024, but I have. It’s only February and I’ve already read 20 books.
Lesson 5: Audiobooks count
If it wasn’t for audiobooks I never would have come close to reading almost 100 books. I love audiobooks and my love only grows each year. In the past, I used to listen to around 1 a month but now that I have discovered library audio books it’s more like 1 a week.
I hate when people say listening to a book shouldn’t count towards your reading goal. It absolutely should. Just because you aren’t reading the words doesn’t mean you aren’t reading the book. The words are still sinking in; they are entering your mind just in a different way. You are still engaged in the story and visualising what’s going on.
I worried for a long time that listening to fiction books wouldn’t be the same, but I personally see no difference in how the story plays out in my mind.
Not only is it annoying but it’s also abelist. Many people cannot physically read a book and listening is their only way to read.
Plus you can cross stitch while listening and really, what is better than that?
Lesson 6: TikTok/BookTok has some good recommendations
I knew all about Bookstagram, but until last year I did not know about BookTok. And I have to say, I prefer it. I never really got many recommendations on Instagram, but most of the books I’ve been reading lately are from TikTok.
Don’t worry; you don’t have to get the app. There are many BookTok videos just on Google or YouTube.
Reading is cool now and I feel like I was born in the wrong generation. Or maybe I was really ahead of my time reading so much in my early teens.
I do have one rule with finding books on TikTok though, because it is very overwhelming when you search BookTok. I have to see a book pop up 3 times before I look at what it is about. This has worked well for me and I’ve found some good gems.
I also use this rule away from TikTok; if I see/hear about a book 3 times I read it, or at least see what it’s about.
The only downside to BookTok is that the books are usually very trendy/popular ones so the wait at the library for them is long. Luckily the wait is usually worth it, s.
Lesson 7: Reading outside my comfort zone is fun
When I first dove into a murder mystery it was for a Book Club I run in The Cross Stitch Club. I wasn’t sure how much I would like it but I knew mysteries make good book club books.
I was missing out! Never would I have picked up a murder mystery; I thought they would be too scary for me (I’m a wimp). But I loved it. And now I have this whole new genre of books I can read and I’m excited.
Sometimes we put ourselves in boxes with reading but even within one genre, there are sub-genres. I have found a YA/crime/mystery mix that I adore now. I never would have found this if I hadn’t stepped outside my usual romance/fantasy box and tried something new. No two books are the same, even in the same genre.
I even tried reading horror for the first time last year. It wasn’t my favourite but I still enjoyed it.
Lesson 8: I love re-reading
Last year I didn’t re-read any books. The only exception was listening to Harry Potter out loud with the kids in the car.
This might not seem like a big deal, but I used to always re-read books. I decided I would try not to do it for a whole year to make a dent in some of my ‘want-to-read’ books. It didn’t work. I found so many new authors and collections and new series that I have added more books to my list than I ended up reading.
Of course, this is one of the benefits of not re-reading; I found so many new books and authors to read.
I like re-reading if I’m stuck on what to read next; I have books on my shelves that I know I love.
I also like re-reading in different formats. For example, I have read the Hunger Games books and listened to the audiobooks and love both versions. For Christmas, I got one of the illustrated Harry Potter books and can’t wait to read that.
Lesson 9: Libraries are amazing
I already knew this of course (I have an episode about libraries here), but I have even more love for them now. I used the app Libby many years ago for eBooks but quickly realised I couldn’t read off my phone. So I deleted the app.
It wasn’t until the Summer of 2023 I got it back and realised how many audiobooks my library offers. I got so much more reading done using that app and I’m just very grateful that we have libraries.
As you can see, I learned a lot from setting a big reading goal last year (big for me anyway). Hopefully, some of these tips have helped you in your reading journey and maybe given you some motivation to set a big goal and just read more.
Extra episodes and posts
- My Cross Stitch and Reading Routine
- How to Make a Summer Reading List
- How to Read More When You’re a New Mum
- 10 Reasons To Use Your Local Library