I stopped setting New Year’s resolutions. Not only is it cliché to set new goals at the start of a new year, but it’s too much self-imposed pressure. Besides, I don’t think I should wait for a new calendar year to eat better, exercise more or be a better me.
That didn’t stop me from joining the Goodreads reading challenge. I set my goal to fully read 36 books in 2016. It seemed reasonable. As a book nerd, I leave with a book tucked under my arm or in my purse every time I leave my apartment. In the case of evening outings with a clutch purse, I have ebooks and magazines on my phone and iPod. Thanks to a Living Social free three-month promotion, I joined Audible.com. I listen to books while cleaning or walking around the city.
I still failed.
Six books short to be exact. Compared to other people who met or surpassed their goals of 100+ books, I felt pathetic. For a quick second. I know I could have done better, but unlike eating better or exercising more, not reaching this goal did not have any negative repercussions on my well-being. I read for fun and for escapism.
As much as I love to read books, sometimes I just can’t. I started, but didn’t finish more books than I care to admit. So much for those must read lists articles, best seller lists, and people who swear they know what I’d like to read (see: The Girl on the Train). Then there’s the issue of my magazine backlog.
There are mornings when the train is so crowded during my commute to work that I can’t even lift or hold a book open. There are days when even if seated, I’d rather stare out the window and watch the darkness of the tunnel whiz by. Others when I just want to focus on the music filtering through my earbuds. Or I’d rather eavesdrop on the two friends lamenting their dating lives. Or watch the person playing candy crush (yes, still) on their phone. Or try to read the newspaper over the shoulder of the person beside me. Or watch the train performers. Or mentally make an errand or grocery list. Or have a silent sobbing session. I’ve witnessed others do it too, so I don’t feel weird.
In early December while changing a book’s status from “currently reading” to “read” on Goodreads, I noticed I was behind my reading goal. It was disappointing because for months I was “on track” or “ahead.”
I scoured my bookshelves for books with thin spines that I could devour in a few hours. I pulled books to see how closely packed together the words and font on the pages were. I logged into my Audible account to see which wishlist books had less reading time. My latest, Taraji P. Henson’s Around the Way Girl clocked in at 7 hours and 27 minutes. It was all for naught. I was out of credits to purchase books, and I wasn’t interested in the skinny books. Give me an Americanah any day.
I could’ve gone back to one my abandoned books or bought more credits for an audiobook, but didn’t. I’m ok with not reaching a goal of 36 read books. I spent plenty of for-pleasure reading hours, not just books, but magazines, blogs, newsletters, not to mention the rabbit hole of social media.
I logged into Goodreads and again set my reading goal for 36 books. Unlike when I go to the gym and sometimes decrease weights, speeds and inclines, I’m going to stay at 36. I’m not going to intentionally set a lower number to reach it. “Better to aim high and miss, than to aim low and hit.” Actually, it’s not that serious. I’ll keep reading—and sometimes not finishing—books at the pace that makes me comfortable. Whatever the outcome on December 31, 2017, is the outcome.
Check out My Year in Books on Goodreads!