I Don’t Care How Many Books I Read a Year

discussion don't care how many books i read a year

According to Goodreads, I joined in 2012. I vaguely remember I was living in Maryland, had just finished my first year of grad school, and was trying to get at least a part-time job, but the fact that I lived in one state and went to school in another state, well, I was probably a bit unrealistic for many reasons. With the academic year winding down, I was a little bored, so, just like with NetGalley years and 2 kids later, I signed up for Goodreads. I also entered a few giveaways and won one. I really liked the book (South of Superior by Ellen Airgood), but have yet to win another book (it would probably help if I actually entered any).

Anyways, every year, I get a message from Goodreads to set a reading challenge, to choose how many books I want to read that year. It’s been almost a decade. I have never done this. I have never seen a need or desire to do this. I have only vaguely wondered why people want to set a certain number of books to read each year.

Always a Reader

My mom will tell you I’ve loved books since before I could read. I have no idea how many books she read to me, and, later, how many books we read together when I learned how to read. I fondly remember getting my mom all to myself for 15 minutes when she put me to bed. We either read a book together (usually Nancy Drew) or played word games. We did this until right before I started high school and I realized I couldn’t keep my regular, earlier bedtime because I had a literal mountain of homework every single day. By then, I was regularly carrying books to school with me (it started in 8th grade because of a bunch of annoying boys, but maybe that’s a story for a later date), so was reading about a book a week, in addition to all my school reading (one of my teachers asked so that’s the only reason why I know that).

Reading has always been just a natural part of my day. Not having an unread book around was unthinkable. I couldn’t even fall asleep without spending at least 15 minutes reading at bedtime (habits die hard, I guess). Even in college, when I literally read every word assigned (I wanted to prove someone wrong), I had pleasure books to read before bedtime (it was a really strong habit broken only by the exhaustion having a breastfeeding baby could break). I couldn’t move into a dorm, or even travel abroad to study, without a pleasure read. I’m still not even sure how I packed up the books I bought in the UK and Denmark to bring them home considering one is about 2 inches thick. The one time I faltered was when I was in grad school, mostly because I lived an hour and a half away from my school for 2 years, so spent at least 3 hours a day driving back and forth. Any free time I had went to my husband. Even then I remember getting in some pleasure reads during those 3 years.

When my oldest was born 7.5 years ago, I started reading when I was up every 2 hours like clockwork every single night (until he was about 19 months old, caught a cold, and suddenly started sleeping through the night). Then, when he was still a baby and then a toddler, I read to him to put him down for naps and bedtime. And then we had a second baby, and I still read to her at quiet time and bed time every day (she’s 4.5 years old). I haven’t gone a day without reading in almost 8 years, and really can’t tell you how many books I read each year. I just need to have an unread book on hand all the time.

The Reader I Choose To Be

A couple of years ago, I started making the shift into book blogging from…whatever it was I was doing. I started following more and more book bloggers and noticed a lot of them setting out how many books they wanted to read each year. For the past couple of years, I’ve followed their journeys to reading X amount of books, but have never felt inclined to do the same. Of course, this set off an introspective look into why (as an introvert, my favorite conversations are with myself, so they happen quite regularly about everything).

It really comes down to I have no real reason to do so. Why does it matter to me if I read 100 books or 50 or 500 a year? Does that make me a better reader? A worse reader? And what does that say about the quality of the books I’m reading, or how long they are? Sure, I can count all the picture and MG books I read with my kids and will therefore have a ton of books counted as read, but I need my reading to be more meaningful to me. Mostly, though, I don’t want to find myself picking up shorter reads that I probably won’t enjoy (because I really love the long, complex, extremely layered fantasies) at the end of the year just to meet a silly goal I set out in January. Prior to book blogging, reading was nothing more than an absolute pleasure to fit in whenever and wherever I could. It was just something I did because I love it and it’s a part of who I am. As a book blogger, I don’t bother counting up until December when I do my favorite reads of the year, when it’s kind of helpful to know how many books I’ve read in a genre. But, even then, it’s not accurate, because I end the year in mid-December, but will read several more books before the end of the year. I count how many reviews I’ve done, not the number of books.

So What?

I’ve been wanting, for a really long time, I mention my 11th grade English Honors teacher and what she taught me. The assumption was that we would all continue on into English AP for our senior year, so she pushed us and challenged us. At the very beginning of the year, we had to write an essay on one of the books we read over the summer from a list provided by the school for English Honors and AP students. After that one, well, I could tell she wasn’t really impressed with us. She taught us to ask “so what.” Very simple. Why does it matter? Why did we feel the need to mention it in an essay? What did it matter? So what?

I apply that to everything I do these days. If there’s no good reason for it, I just don’t bother. Like with setting out how many books I want to read each year. So what? What does it matter to me? What would be the purpose? I know those who do decide to do this have a reason. Personally, I don’t have one. It’s just something that will hang over my head if I do (it’s enough that my kids literally try to do this). I have enough hanging over my head. I’m up to over my head in things hanging over my head. I don’t need something like keeping track of how many books I read in a year hanging over me.

Nope, Not For Me

So, no, I don’t and will never track how many books I read a year. I personally don’t see the point. I just want to enjoy reading, not feel like I’m pushing myself to read so many books. With all the responsibilities I have in my personal life, not to mention here, I’m lucky to get some time to read each day. Some days, all I get are 2 minutes when I’m putting my daughter down for quiet time and about 30-40 minutes at night when I’m putting her to bed because she will not fall asleep unless I sit with her. Having a goal to reach is just too anxiety-provoking. Some nights it’s stressful enough just trying to pick out three picture books she wants me to read to her.

Instead, I do more low-key challenges that make me a little more thoughtful about what I decide to pick up. Last year, I embarked on an indie reads challenge. I wanted to have about half of all the books I read in a month to be an indie one. It made me say yes to more review requests and I found myself dismissing some books on NetGalley that were published by the Big 5 that were interesting, but maybe not the perfect read for me. I enjoyed all the reviews I read for those books I decided not to request, but I don’t regret my decision because it made more room for indie reads, specifically self-published ones.

This year, I have another challenge: to read books with more diversity and more accepting societies. I don’t know yet how it’ll make me consider the books that come my way, but I’ll be thinking about what I read and what I have to say about what I read in a different way.

One thing I know for sure: I’ll never set a number of books to read in a year each January. It’s not for everyone, and it’s definitely not for me.

Do you set a goal? What do you love about it?

Pin this! (mostly a reminder to myself, but also an invitation to you!)

don't care how many books read a year

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25 thoughts on “I Don’t Care How Many Books I Read a Year

  1. I set a goal on Goodreads. It’s actually only reading goal I set and follow throughout the year. It’s not about a goal or challenge, it just keeps a track how many books I can rad throughout the year and how I’m doing than previous year. It’s kind of fun as long as it doesn’t make me pressure read. And what’s more I can always change that number and it’s okay if I cannot complete it. Amazing post!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That sounds like a really wonderful way of keeping track! It does sound like fun and the way you’ve framed it really makes it feel like the pressure of reading a certain number of books has been taken off. I keep track as well and love how it just helps make reading fun instead of something I have to do. Thank you so much for reading!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Once I counted how many books I read in a year. It was some time ago, and I did it because I was really concerned about my ability to concentrate. That year I read 60 books. I don’t know if this is a big number or a small number, but it’s around one book per week, so I was satisfied. Now I don’t count anymore. I just count “the good ones” if you know what I mean 😁.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’d say your ability to concentrate is quite good! Sometimes there are book bloggers who post reading stats and, I believe it was in the last two years, the stat was that most people don’t read more than a few books a year, so I think your 60 books is a very good number, definitely more than most. And, of course, only the good ones count!

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  3. Good call. I never in my life set myself a goal to read X number of books and I never will set such a preposterous goal in my life. It is my belief that we read for enjoyment and also to get knowledge and understanding from books. I’d rather see a person who read 5 great books a year but who really understood them, they changed them maybe in a good way, and who enjoyed them immensely, then someone who read 150 but can hardly recall any and was rushed through them (and none of them were any good or were waste of time). That competition to read X number of books is the worse peer trap one can fall into…that’s my personal opinion, of course.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I feel very much the same way. Reading is meant to be enjoyable and putting a number to it just makes it seem like a chore to me. Life is too short to want to read X number of books and dislike most of them just to find the good ones. I’ll never understand it, but, for whatever reason, it seems to make a lot of readers happy, though seeing many fail by the end of the year makes me wonder why set a number at all.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I guess you could say I’m a bit of a lemming. I do put a number in that box because “everybody is doing it,” but like you it means nothing to me. I read. That’s how I’ve always been and I have never cared to count how many books I have read nor do I need to challenge myself to read more. I just read. My blog has changed things somewhat since I take on ARCs and blog tours, which both ask that you commit to reading a book by a certain date, so I have to be aware of how many books I’m capable of reading in any given amount of time. If I wasn’t aware, I could very easily commit to way more than I could handle. A very thought-provoking discussion post, Kat!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Tessa! I’ve been tempted to just put in a number in an attempt to get Goodreads to stop sending me messages about it, but, considering I spend no more time than it takes me to post a review there, I would never update it, making doing it a bit useless. I’m like you; I just read. As long as I have a book, I’m very happy, no matter what number it is. Having so many deadlines definitely puts on the pressure to really understand you reading capabilities! I’m always so impressed with how on top of them you are.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Very understandable point of view!
    I love the Goodreads challenge cause it motivates me 😅 There are time when I’m so into writing that reading eludes me, but reading is one of the ways I get inspiration and learn hence it’s super important for me. And Goodreads reminds me to do that!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I totally get that! Sometimes I get so into writing, too, that it’s not until I’m reading to my daughter at night that I remember I haven’t opened a book at all that day. But I agree that books are a great way to get inspiration, and that’s great that the Goodreads challenge is so useful to you! Even if I don’t quite understand it, I absolutely get that it can be so useful to so many readers. Good luck with your reading this year!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I do set a goal, because quantified reading is important to me as a writer. Weirdly enough, I’m slow as heck, and typically over in the under 20 range. But like you, I’m planning to vary my genres this year, especially since I don’t have the speed to read as much. Here’s to more reading regardless of tracking!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Any reading is good reading! Even though book blogging would have me guessing every reader is a fast reader, that’s just not true and it doesn’t matter how much anyone reads. It’s all fantastic anyways. I hope you enjoy reading more genres and find some new enjoyable reads this year!

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  7. I have no idea how many books I read a year and have never set a goal. But that’s because I don’t need one to make myself read…I devour books lol. When I was little, I’d check out 40 books at a time from the library, because that was the limit. My mom still talks about the time she picked them up randomly and quizzed me to see if I was actually reading them all. Already on my 4th book this year. (The downside is that I read so much because I have trouble getting to sleep and staying asleep…so I read.)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha, I feel the same way! Though my mom limited me to the number of books I could hold, so I never managed to find out how many books I could check out at once. Better to read when unable to sleep than do other questionable activities, as I’ve heard some people get suckered into buying things while watching TV.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Haha, I remember having those nights! It’s been a while since my kids exhaust me so thoroughly. I remember reading about so many moms just turning on the TV when nursing at night, but, when that was me, I found reading to be a much better experience, though it often made me reluctant to put the baby back to bed since it meant I also had to put my book away!

        Liked by 1 person

  8. What a wonderful post and a unique perspective. I do set myself a goal to read a certain amount of books per year, however it is done mainly to ensure I am making time to read more than anything else. I’d hate to beat myself up for not smashing my reading goal every year 🙂 I haven’t done this previously, but I did the Reading Women Challenge last year and enjoyed it thoroughly. This year my focus is on translated books (mainly fiction).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That sounds perfectly reasonable to me. With so much to do and so much going on, it can be hard to make time to read, so it’s a good way to make sure some reading gets done. Focusing on translated books sounds like fun. I hope you enjoy it!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I don’t tend to set a book goal either. I’m just always on the lookout for my next pleasure read because I always want something new and I rush through each book in days. I’ve no idea how many that actually equals per year. Goodreads says somewhere between 40-60 but often times I forget to update Goodreads or the book I’m reading isn’t on it. Like you, I’m not really concerned about the number =)

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  10. The number of fiction books I read a year is solidly in the single-digits, lol. I tend to be excruciatingly slow, because I analyze everything from sentence structure and character development, to my own reactions and the reasons behind them. I can only take so much at a time before I need to change gears and do something else.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha! Well, any reading is reading! When I was younger, I was much slower for the same reasons, but only because my English classes demanded that level of analysis and it was hard to break out of. It really sent my mind whirling in weird directions.

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  11. I enjoy setting a reading goal because it’s encouraged me to read more books! When I was in college, my pleasure reading decreased a lot until I started making a goal on goodreads. The first time I did, I only set it at 10, and the next at 12. Now, just a few years later, I’m hoping to get 25 books read, and pretty confident I can do it! It’s just been a great motivator to make time to read and to make progress in my massive TBR pile. And if I find myself struggling with that goal, I can always decrease it if needed.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s fantastic! It’s been great to read how it helps so many readers fit in reading and even read more. It’s so easy to stop pleasuring reading in college. It’s great to hear how Goodreads has been so beneficial and it’s really nice that it’s adjustable. Good luck reading your 25 books! I hope you read some really good ones this year!

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