It’s finally 2021! It’s time to set tentative goals for the year and get that motivation going. As someone who loves lists, I’ve already made a list of my own goals. One of them involves taking on the Goodreads challenge yet again. This is the third year I’ve done this, and I am very lucky to have hit my goal two years in a row. When I set my goal for this year, I started thinking about myself the first year I did this challenge. I had no game plan, and no idea how to tackle my goal. I thought I was an experienced reader, but my challenge kicked my butt. If you are in that same boat, don’t worry! Here are 10 tips that can help you smash your Goodreads goal.
- Set a realistic goal
This is one of the most important things to consider when setting a goal. Be realistic about how many books you can read with your lifestyle. If you are a busy parent who can barely listen to a book tape, 50 books might be a bit much. Instead, take a mental tally of how many books you read the previous year. If you want to keep up your reading habit, you can set a goal for the same number of books that you read the year before. If you want to challenge yourself, try upping that count by 2-5 books. That will give you an attainable goal that also pushes you to read a bit more. If you are coming back to the challenge this year and need a new goal, take the same considerations into account. If you read 30 books last year and can feasibly see yourself reading 35, go for it! If you hit your max reading goal last year, renew it again. Don’t feel like you have to read 50 or 100 books just because so many other people are. That’ll add additional stress and suck the fun out of this challenge. This is supposed to be fun, not stressful!
- Keep a list of favorite books and authors
Something that has helped me in the past two years is my favorites list. Keep a list of favorite books and authors to reference when you run out of ideas. There are even books built for this, where you can track your favorites in one place. If you prefer an easy to access list, create a Google doc with these lists and keep the app on your phone. If you are out of ideas at the bookstore, you can pull it out and search for similar books. Also, most online booksellers have a suggested reads list. If you really liked a book, look it up on one of these sites and take a look at the recommended list. You can also use this feature to look at your favorite author’s novels. You can also go to an author’s site to see what books they’ve written and tackle their books.
- Ask friends and family for book recommendations
This option can be a great or terrible idea, depending who you ask. Take that into account when consulting your peers for book recommendations. If you are a fiction lover and cringe at the thought of nonfiction, maybe don’t ask your aunt who loves nonfiction for advice. Instead, consider people who have reading interests that overlap with yours. You can find books that you know you’ll like, and maybe even a few that’ll surprise you. If you want to expand your reading world, then consider talking to that aunt or uncle who likes different books than you. This is great if you’re getting into a new genre with no idea where to begin. Let them know your preferences and dislikes and they can help you translate that to their favorite genre. It’s also a great bonding experience for you and the person you’re consulting. A win win!
- Audiobooks are your friend
Audiobooks are a great way to keep yourself on track for your goal. Many people have different obligations that make it hard to sit down and read a book. You can listen to audiobooks while you work, while you drive, and more! You can get audiobooks via Audible, Youtube, CDs, and your library. I’m a fast reader, so I tend to listen to Audible audiobooks at 1.25x speed. You can also do this on Youtube as well if you want a speedier read. If you use a platform like Audible, I would recommend listening to a sample of the audiobook before purchasing it. This will help you determine if the reader’s voice is grating or nice to your ears. You don’t want to get an audiobook version of a book you’ve been dying to read, only to find that the voice gets on your nerves. If you find a reader’s voice that you like, try searching their name to see what other books they’ve read. You might find some new books that way!
- Keep a written list of book ideas
This is an obvious strategy, but I had to mention it. I often forget to write down books that I find interesting. If you carry a notebook like myself, dedicate a page to books that interest you. Google docs are also a great way to keep this list. You can format the list to include book recommendations and books that you come across on your trips to the bookstore. If nothing tickles your fancy on your bookshelf, consult your list for ideas. Try to include books of all your favorite genres so that you have options for any mood. If you find a book in a series that you want to read, include the other books in that series on your list as well. Series are a great way to increase your number of books read.
- Follow book blogs for recommendations
Book blogs are your best friend when it comes to recommendations. The odds are that every book blog has at least one book recommendation on their blog. Research some blogs to follow that you find fun to read. If you can find blogs that specialize in certain genres, they’re a great way to find your preferred books. It’s also a great way to learn more about a genre that you want to try reading this year. I would also recommend following Booktubers for the same reason. It is important to note that this option involves some trial and error. You may start out reading a blog that you think might be promising and then find it disappointing. Don’t be discouraged! There are a lot of great ones out there. You’ll eventually find a few that will be great resources. If you want to check out some of my book recommendations, you can look at my book content here.
- Goodreads itself!
Again, another obvious point that needs to be mentioned. Goodreads is a great way to find books. They have an option where you can select your favorite genres. Based on this information and your previously read, they will have a list of book recommendations catered to you. You can also keep track of your want to read on their site, as your account has a shelf for that reason. If you have Goodreads friends, you can also see what they are reading and check out those books. The reviews are usually varied enough that you can use them to determine if the book is right for you. They usually have links to buying the book as well. If you are someone who needs to watch your budget, you can use the links to buy the books on Kindle.
- Ask a worker at your local bookstore
This is a tried and true way to find a book. Bookstore workers, especially at independent bookstores, are a great resource for finding books. Make sure you come to them with a specific title or genre that they can work off to help you find books. If you want to try something new, ask them about their favorite book and see if that sparks inspiration for you. Independent bookstores usually have the worker’s favorite books highlighted in some way. Try looking for those and write them down in your book list if any strike your fancy. You can also ask them about recommendations based on authors to see if they know of any similar authors that they have in stock.
- Consult the classics
If you feel burnt out on your current favorite genres, try taking a look at classic novels. It can be hard to separate these from your dreaded school days, but they are worth checking out. I used to dread the classics because of my mixed experience with highschool English. Once I could choose the classics and could read them without dissection, they were way more fun to read. If you are unsure what classics you like, consult a list on Goodreads or Google a list of classics and go from there. The genres of classics may seem small, but there are many different options to choose from. I always recommend checking out Mary Shelly or Jane Austen’s work for some dynamic storytelling. If you are concerned with the language getting in the way, they are good ones to read. It isn’t too formal and can get you used to reading the writing styles of the time. The more you read the classics, the easier they get to read. If you want to check out some of my favorite classic novels for some ideas, you can read this post.
- Repeats of your favorites are okay!
If all else fails, don’t be afraid to repeat some favorites from 2020 or the years prior. I don’t believe that reading the same book twice in one year counts, but that doesn’t apply to books you’ve read in years past. You can add multiple dates read for a book. This is great for me, because I have some go to books that I love to read at certain times of the year. If you aren’t sure what to read, consult your old Goodreads reading challenge lists and write down the ones you remember liking. If you like to read certain genres at certain times of the year like me, you can map out when to read these books. This can be super helpful if you want to reread a longer book. You can plan accordingly by upping your book count in a different month so that book doesn’t get you behind on your goal. This also a great option because you can look at how long it took you to read them the last time and can plan accordingly.
With these tips, I hope you can kick your 2021 goal’s butt and come out victorious. However, don’t forget to give yourself some leeway. Last year was a whirlwind and that might make it hard for you to get moving with a new goal right away. If that’s the case for you, focus on one book at a time and don’t stress too much about your goal. What tips would you add for people wanting to complete their Goodreads goals? Do you have any book recommendations for me or a fellow book lover to read this year? Let me know in the comments below! I’ve just gotten started on my own challenge and am looking forward to all the great book ideas to add to my list. Thanks so much for reading everyone, and good luck!