What to Do If You Are Behind on Your Reading Challenge

reading challenge goalReading challenges like Goodreads Reading Challenge have encouraged many people to set aside more time for something they love–reading. It’s fun to see the numbers add up, especially if you are on, or ahead of pace to meet your reading goal.

But what if you are not? You wanted to read a book a week, 52 in total and here it is, November, and you have read 20. What do you do? Here are some thoughts, facetious and otherwise.

  1. Read and count lots of children’s books. Many for younger readers are very short, and each counts as a book. You could probably binge over a weekend and reach your goal.
  2. Go on an extended reading binge for the rest of the year. Still choose relatively short, page-turners to read. At this point (November 12) you have just over six weeks. Five books a week will do get you there.
  3. Count audiobooks and listen to them while driving, working out, whenever you can.
  4. Re-define “read.” You could just skim these books, read the first sentence of each paragraph and get a sense of this.

I’ll be honest, none of this sounds like any fun, except for maybe the children’s books. Mostly, it feels pretty driven and kind of defeats the purpose of reading, which is enjoyment that grows our minds and view of the world.

I suspect that a better tack might be to look at what has hampered your reading. It might be that life has happened in a big way–an illness, a new job, a break up, or even a marriage, or a new baby. It’s probably best to forget the goals, and live in the change you are in, and be the person you hope to become amid it, which may take work. Start reading when the bandwidth and desire are there. If your are a reader, let me assure you, it’s lurking in there, just waiting for a chance to come out.

A few thoughts for the rest of us who just need to recalibrate our reading goals:

  1. Unless you are close, ditch the goal for the year. You made the goal. You are allowed to change it or set it aside.
  2. Goodreads actually allows you to change the goal. If reaching a goal means something to you, set a goal that is reasonable to reach at this point–perhaps your current total plus two. That will get you started. You might even exceed your goal. Won’t that feel good.
  3. Figure out when you will read. Fifteen minutes a day allows you to read 15 books of average size a year. That should allow you to read at least two books before the year ends. The minute a day of reading per books you want to read each year is a good rule of thumb for setting goals. If you are able to read an hour a day, then you have a chance of making that 52 book goal next year.
  4. Make reading a reward for something, and reward yourself in your favorite chair accompanied by your favorite drink. This isn’t study hall!
  5. Start with books in a genre or on a subject you enjoy, if you are getting back into the groove. That may not be War and Peace, as much as you think you should read it! Pick that up during a year when you are ahead of the pace needed to reach your goal, or after your reach your goal.

Unless you are a student or are doing work related reading, you probably just read for your own personal amusement and enrichment. If reading goals help you be more intentional in pursuing what amuses and enriches you–great! But if the goal is making you miserable, then you either need to get a better goal or just be someone who enjoys reading without goals. Maybe just keeping a tally of the books you’ve read is all you need.

Happy reading, goals or not!

 

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