Reading Challenge and Goals (Early) Wrap-Up

I started this year with quite a long list of goals, partly because I had two almost back-to-back blog prompts (here and here) that asked for my goals for the year. There was a Top 5 Wednesday prompt in early January asking for our reading resolutions, and a Top 10 Tuesday prompt a couple of weeks later asking for the same thing. When I remembered that I had set myself a total of 15 goals for the year, many of which I didn’t remember off the top of my head, I was worried that I wouldn’t have done to well. I was pleasantly surprised to realize that I actually had accomplished many of my goals! To be fair, several of the goals were quite vague so it’s completely up to my discretion whether I felt it had been accomplished or not, especially when the goal was to read “more” of a certain kind of book, without specifying how many exactly would be “more.” I was originally planning on doing a wrap-up a little closer to the end of the month because I’m still working toward my reading challenges, but I think I’m at a good enough point now to have an idea of where they stand.

The Top 5 Wednesday Goals:

I’m starting with the 5 goals I set within the first week of January since these are the ones that were a little more specific, and they were my five highest priority goals for the year.

1) Finish all of my reading challenges by the deadlines I set — (Almost) Done!

This year, I took on a total of 5 challenges, with a total of 182 books needed. At the time, I calculated out that in order to finish everything by December 31, I would need to read 15 books per month which seemed a bit too high. I decided to take some of the pressure off by splitting the challenges. I wanted to finish the Goodreads Around the Year challenge (55 books total, including a wild card and 2 extra books I added by splitting a prompt into 3) and PopSugar challenge (52 books total) for sure by December 31. I was hoping to finish Book Riot (24 books) by December 31 as well, but left the deadline for that one flexible. The Modern Mrs. Darcy 2017 challenge (24 books) and ATY Top Picks challenge (25 books, consisting of the prompts I’d voted for in the ATY challenge that didn’t make the final list) were set for the end of March 2019.

As of right now, I think I am on track to finish both ATY and PopSugar by the end of this month. I have 6 books remaining for ATY, and 5 for PopSugar. Those two challenges have become my top priority, to the point of excluding the others for now. Technically, I don’t know yet whether I have finished those two challenges by the deadline, but I think I will. I have 4 books remaining for BookRiot, just one for Modern Mrs. Darcy, and 2 for ATY Top Picks. What I’m not sure about is whether I’m going to follow through with finishing these books by March, since I have so many books already planned for challenges next year. I’m counting this goal as accomplished since I *would* be able to finish all those books easily by the end of March.

2) Balance my reading better — Half-Accomplished

I would say over the course of the whole year, I balanced out my reading fairly well. I knew I had some very long books in mind, so I tried to balance them out with some shorter books for other prompts. Looking at my list as a whole, I had quite a variety of books. Toward the first half of the year, I think I did a pretty good job of balancing things out so I was reading enough variety of genres and formats, but I think this is a goal that I still need to work on. Toward the end of the year, I found myself with a month where almost all I had lined up was YA fantasy books, and another span of several weeks where I read too many lengthy series in a row. These are two things that I find cause myself a lot of burnout — too much similarity in storylines, and too many long books in a row. Part of this is because my local library closed for several months, so that completely threw off my plans for which books I was going to read at certain points. I thought I’d have a span of weeks over the summer where I wouldn’t be able to get any books from the library, but it turned out that I could. Part of the reason I have so many books remaining for ATY and PopSugar in general is because I ended up putting off the books I owned in favour of library books, and many of those books I owned were for these two challenges. This is a goal I definitely want to continue next year, so I can balance things out a bit more smoothly!

3) Learn to use Instagram to document my reading — Done!

Up until this year, I would post my books only on Facebook and Goodreads, and I was finding that Facebook was becoming impossible since it didn’t recognize many of the books I picked. I’ve definitely been more consistent about keeping my Goodreads page up-to-date and remembering to post each book either as I start or as I finish. I started using Instagram to take a picture of each book and caption it, with that post linked to my Facebook page, instead of trying to work exclusively through Facebook, and I find this system so much easier to manage!

4) Find a better system for tracking my thoughts about each book — Done!

Even though I don’t really write reviews, I like to keep track of my thoughts about each book because I find it helps to write blog posts and participate in discussions on Goodreads. Up until this year, I would keep a list of all the books I read and which prompts they were for, with a short paragraph about why I chose it, a basic plot outline, and my opinions. This is a document that is really just for me because it becomes way too long for anyone else to be interested in reading. This year, I tried to simplify the process a bit by writing point-form notes for each book instead of proper paragraphs, and I found that worked much better. I’m actually probably writing the exact same amount, but it feels much faster and easier.

5) Finish the series I have in progress — Done!

I think of all the goals I’ve accomplished this year, this is the one I’m most proud of. I had a list of 12 series that I was hoping to finish by the end of this year, and I managed to complete them all! The only slight exception is that I think I had included Restore Me by Tahereh Mafi in my original plan, and I only finished the original Shatter Me trilogy. I’m especially proud of accomplishing this goal because it involved several very long books! The series I finished included The Raven Cycle, Red Queen, ACOTAR, Illuminae, and Daughter of Smoke & Bone, along with a few other YA dystopians. I also finally finished the Chronicles of Narnia series and the With the Light manga series, which I’d been meaning to finish off for a long time. This was by biggest accomplishment of the year!

The Top 10 Tuesday Goals

For these goals, it is much harder to definitively say whether they have been accomplished or not because many of them were intentionally left quite vague. The five goals above were my main priority, and these ones were goals I always saw as extras.

1) Read more recent releases — Done!

Many of these goals include a very vague “read more” without quantifying at all what that means. I specified in my original post that by recent, I meant books that had been published in the past 3-4 years, and part of that was to intended to include the series that I had in mind. I never calculated how many recent books I read in previous years, but this year about half of the books I read were published in 2015 or later, and 59 books in total were published in 2017 or 2018. That’s just over third of all the books that I’ve read so far, which I would say is a pretty good proportion! I think it’s safe to say I read quite a few recent releases this year.

2) Read more books that have been on my TBR for more than 2 years — Done!

Again, this is a very tricky one to keep track of because I never made note of which books fell into this category. I wanted to put this as a goal to motivate myself to dig back into the first few pages of my Goodreads TBR and prioritize some of the books that I’ve been meaning read for a long time. According to Goodreads, about 27 of the books I’ve read so far have been on my TBR since 2015, which is the year that I first started using Goodreads. Another 37 have been on my TBR since 2016, which makes it a total of 64 books, or about 40% of the books I read. This is actually a much higher percentage than I thought! I made a conscious effort to try and choose some books that I’ve been meaning to read for a while, but didn’t realize that it was quite so many.

3) Read more thrillers — Kind of Done!

At the beginning of the year, I commented that I don’t keep track of how many books that I read per genre. I wanted to read more thrillers because it is a genre that I really enjoy, but somehow end up not picking up too often. I purposely didn’t attach a specific number because I wanted the freedom to be flexible with the books I picked, although I’ve been steadily reading more thrillers each year as I do more reading challenges. This year, I read a total of 9 books that can be classified as thrillers (or at least mystery-thrillers) and I have at least one more planned before the end of the year. This is a very small increase from the 8 that I read last year,  so I would consider this goal partly accomplished. Since I didn’t have a set number in mind, I would say that reading about the same as last year is a pretty good start, but it’s less than I thought I’d read.

4) Read some graphic novels — Done!

Again, what does “some” really mean?? Through doing reading challenges the past few years, I’ve become a lot more open to graphic novels as a genre, and I make a conscious effort to build a few into my challenges each year. I knew this year that I’d have at least a few because of the With the Light manga series (which I know is not exactly the same as a graphic novel, but it’s along the same lines). This year, I read a total of 19 graphic novels, which is a lot more than I expected! It’s still a relatively small proportion of my overall total of books, but it’s definitely more graphic novels than I’ve read in the past.

5) Be less intimidated by longer books — Done!

This is another very vague goal, but I’m counting it as accomplished because I had several very long books (War Storm and A Court of Wings and Ruin, for example) on my list for this year, and I didn’t get scared off reading them even though I read too many long books almost back-to-back. I defined “long” as books over 500 pages, since my average pages per day is somewhere around 100. Of the books I’ve read so far this year, I read 6 books that had more than 600 pages, and 9 books that had more than 500 pages (although to be fair, many of those were the manga series). I also read another 9 or so books that were between 450 and 500 pages, which are still quite lengthy! I would say I’ve accomplished this one because I was not afraid to add other long books to my plans for next year’s challenges.

6) Participate more actively on my Goodreads challenge groups — Failed!

This was a very low priority goal for me, so I don’t feel too badly about not being able to do it. At the beginning of the year, I did pretty well with posting about the books I’d read or contributing to the threads that existed for them, but after a while it became too much work. I found that many of the books I read didn’t have a thread already active, and if I didn’t have the time to start one myself right away, I ended up forgetting about it. The one thing I did fairly consistently was keep up (almost) with the weekly check-ins for the PopSugar group, where I posted how many books I read each week and answered the question of the week. I did participate actively in the voting process for the ATY challenge, although I definitely didn’t post as often as I had in the past because once again, there seemed to be a lot of defensiveness when it came to asking questions or making suggestions. No one complained about an overall negative atmosphere like last year, but there were definitely some aspects that made it feel less welcoming.

7) Keep blogging consistently — Done!

I think this is the one thing that I was able to do most consistently all year. I’ve kept up with doing Top 10 Tuesday, Top 5 Wednesday, and at least one other post every week. Honestly, it does feel like a chore at times, which is what I was worried about in the first place, but I’m not at a point yet where I feel like it’s more work than fun, so it’s not a problem.

8) Get more variety in my blog content — Partly Done?

I’m leaving this one as a “?” because I’m not really sure what my intent was. Aside from Top 10 Tuesday and Top 5 Wednesday, I also tend to do book tags, Monthly Recommendations, and (my personal favourite) Stacking the Shelves. I had a Reader Struggles series going too, but the original list of memes I was using ran out, and I haven’t had a chance to find more yet (although I’m completely open to that). I also occasionally write a discussion post about different topics, although probably not as often as I should. I don’t quite want to say I’ve failed this one because I’ve at least made an effort to have some variety, but I don’t quite think it’s completely done either.

9) Buy some books! — Done!

This was a very easy goal to accomplish, thanks to Book Outlet. When I made my goals post in January, I had just received my first ever order with Book Outlet, and was very impressed with them. Throughout the year, I ordered tons more books from them, and also bought quite a few brand new books for myself (including the Throne of Glass series!). I have way more books than I have space for, but it was totally worth it.

10) Enjoy what I’m reading! — Done!

I noted in my original post that I have a pretty good record for picking books that I know I’m going to enjoy, and the majority of my books generally get 4 stars or higher from me. This year was no exception. So far, I have 71 books that I rated 5 stars, 85 books that I rated 4 stars, and only 8 books that I rated 3 stars. I didn’t give anything lower than 3. I think compared to many other readers, I tend to be a bit on the generous side when it comes to rating books, especially when it comes to giving a 4, but I genuinely enjoyed the vast majority of the books I read this year. I would even arguably say that I enjoyed my books overall more this year than I did last year, and last year I liked what I read a lot! This goal is probably the least-defined, but the most important for me, so I’m really glad that I accomplished it!



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