2021 Reading Challenge and Goals Wrap-Up

I was fully prepared to say how my wrap-up feels unusually late this year, but when I went back to look at what I’d posted last year, I realized that it hadn’t been posted until January 10! At least last year I had a bit more of an excuse, since I was trying to line it up with a Top 10 Tuesday topic about goals or resolutions for the new year. That topic wasn’t mentioned on this year’s list, but I still wanted to take this opportunity to wrap-up how I did on my goals this year before sharing my new reading goals tomorrow! Once again, the pandemic wreaked some havoc on my reading since I didn’t use my library at all during the year, except for online resources like audiobooks and a few graphic novel ebooks. I was also back to work in person full time for the majority of this year, so I didn’t have any of the “extra” time that I’d had in 2020, although to be fair, I didn’t really utilize that extra time very well anyway. This was another year where I’ve felt perpetually behind somehow. I’d love to blame it on the pandemic, but I’m not even sure at this point if that’s the reason.

This was my second year trying to set up my challenges as a two-year process, and I actually succeeded in doing that! It took me quite a while to realize it though, since I spent a lot of the year thinking I was extremely behind on everything. However, when I took a step back and looked at my reading over the year, I realized that I’d reached about the halfway point on most of my goals, which makes sense if it’s a two year challenge. It definitely left me with a feeling of not accomplishing anything. I’m hoping that looking back on everything now might make me realize that I’ve accomplished a little more than I thought, but my expectations are pretty low.

My 2021 Goals

1) Finish all challenges by the deadlines that I set – Did Not Accomplish

Unsurprisingly, I did not finish this goal at all. I have no idea why, but no matter how many times I try to prioritize the ATY and PopSugar challenges, I end up leaving them both until way too late in the year. I suspect it’s because I’m mostly mood reading, so I’m not necessarily paying attention to exactly which challenge each book is counting toward. I’d intended to finish both of these challenges by the end of December 2021, and everything else by the end of 2022. By the end of the year, this is where I stood:

  • Goodreads Around the Year – 28/53 books (52.8%)
  • PopSugar – 26/55 books (47.3%)
  • ATY Top Picks – 24/53 (45%)
  • Leftovers – 23/45 (51.1%)
  • 52 Book Club – 19/52 (36.5%)
  • Flourish & Blotts – 26/50 (52%)
  • Booklist Queen – 22/52 (42.3%)

I can’t help but be a little disappointed that I wasn’t further ahead on any of my challenges, especially since I’d been much further ahead on most of my challenges by the end of last year. However, in 2020 I’d only had a total of 5 challenges to balance, and this year I had 7! I still read a lot of books overall, especially because the majority of what I’d read in 2021 were full-length novels, compared to previous years where I’d had quite a few graphic novels. It’s possible I would have actually accomplished, or at least come close to accomplishing, my two top priority challenges if I looked back on what I’d read and reassigned them to prompts from those challenges. Instead, I’m taking many of the books that I didn’t get to and applying them to 2022 prompts, or funneling them into a Leftovers challenge to have another chance to still read them.

2) Read 200 books – Did Not Accomplish

This total was probably a bit of a longshot, but I came so close to hitting 200 books in 2019 and I’ve been determined to reach that total ever since! I chose this number as a fairly arbitrary number since it would be overwhelming to set my Goodreads total to the actual number of books that I’d need for all 7 challenges. This year, I actually read the fewest books I’ve read since 2017, which was a little disappointing. I was hoping to at least match the number of books I’d read in 2020 if not exceed it, but somehow I didn’t even reach that total. There isn’t even a specific reason for it, so I would assume it’s just because I read books that were longer or fewer graphic novels. According to Goodreads, I read a total of 60,003 pages in 2021, although I’m not entirely sure how audiobooks are counted toward that total. My average book size was 357 pages, as opposed to 355 pages in 2020, so maybe it had nothing to do with book length after all.

3) Read some more series – Modified, but Accomplished

I had to modify this goal a bit as the year went on because I realized that some of the series I’d picked would not have the final books published in 2021 like I thought, or if they did, those books came out too late in the year for me to realistically be able to get and read them. I knew when I first made my list that the overall number of series (19!) was more of an ideal than a realistic number. Partway through the year, I decided that I would realistically be happy if I had finished between 13 and 15 series. By the end of the year, I had finished exactly 13 series. It means I barely squeaked by on this goal, and even though 13 series is still a lot, I couldn’t help feeling a little disappointed that I didn’t read one or two more. I think I’d burnt myself out a bit on series by the end of the year, because I started to feel like they were taking up too much time where I could be reading other standalones. I probably could have fit in one more if I’d really pushed myself, but I wanted to make sure I was in the right mood to approach it.

At the very least, I was happy to have read all three of the leftover series I’d had from the previous year! I ended up with another 2 leftover series to carry forward of the series that had been completed in time for me to possibly tackle them in 2021, or 3 if you include a re-read of the Monsters of Verity duology. I also have another 3 leftover series that hadn’t been finished or that finished quite late in the year, so I’m planning to carry those over too. I’ve learned that even if a book is high priority, if I only get the book in November or December, I’m unlikely to get to it before the year ends.

4) Read at least one book by each of my top priority authors to try – Accomplished!

I think this is one of the goals that I’m most proud of accomplishing! I definitely had to push myself a bit at the end of the year to actively prioritize that last couple of authors, even when I had other books I really wanted to read too. I even managed to fit in more than one book by several of the authors, although not as many as I would have liked. Technically I only need to read one book per author to cross them off my list, so it’s safe to say I’ve done that! This is actually the first time I’ve managed to accomplish this goal. In 2020 I came very close, but was short by just one author. I’m very happy that I made sure to prioritize the last few in time this year! This is also probably one of my favourite goals to try since it’s helped me discover some of my favourite authors, or at least finally pick up some of the authors who had been on my list absolutely forever.

5) Prioritize my reading better! – Did Not Accomplish

As I mentioned above, this goal continues to be a major source of frustration. At least this year, it makes some sense since the challenges were set up to be a two-year process, so I can kind of understand why I only really reached the halfway point on most of them. I even tried to give myself some structure to make sure I prioritized my challenges properly! I’d planned to read an average of 4 books for each of ATY and PopSugar per month, but that definitely did not happen. Like always, I got to the end of the year and realized I had a ton of books left per challenge, which just led to this “perpetually behind” feeling I’d had for most of the year.

6) Read some non-fiction – Accomplished!

Ironically enough, this was my easiest goal to accomplish. I have very little interest in non-fiction generally, but I noticed that my challenges for 2021 had several prompts that required it. I decided that the only way I’d prioritize those books is if I attached a goal to it, so I set myself the task of reading 8-10 non-fiction books in the year. It’s a very low total realistically, so it wasn’t too surprising when I finished it in March! It was quite a bit earlier in the year than I’d thought, but I credit that entirely to the fact that I tend to pick graphic memoirs or audiobooks for my non-fiction prompts. It does feel a tiny bit like cheating, but I’ve actually found that audiobooks make non-fiction a lot more tolerable for me since I can listen while doing other things. I’m usually so unmotivated to pick up a non-fiction book on its own, but if I can multitask while I listen then I don’t mind. I also tend to enjoy graphic memoirs a lot more than full-text biographies or memoirs, so that’s another option I wouldn’t mind continuing to explore a bit, although it’s still not my top priority.

7) Read more thrillers! – Accomplished!

This is still a very difficult goal to assess since I didn’t specify exactly how many I’d want to read, but I’m counting it as accomplished. I read somewhere around 30 thrillers again this year, which is a decent number but a little less than I expected given how many I have on my list. Considering thrillers is one of my favourite genres, I’m always a little surprised to see that I don’t read nearly as many as I expect. I guess it could be argued that I didn’t really read “more” than last year since I read virtually the same number, but I’m counting it as a win since I still read quite a few. There are also a few books that I didn’t necessarily count as thrillers that might technically count, especially some tagged as mystery-thrillers. I’d love to keep prioritizing this genre and push myself to actually pick up even more of the thrillers that I’d been meaning to try.

8) Read the books that I keep putting off! – Accomplished!

Again, this is a very hard one to assess because I didn’t set a number. I had a vague idea in mind of which books would qualify as ones that I kept putting off. I have several books that I keep adding to my reading challenge plans and then not picking up. I wanted to make a conscious effort to finally read these. By the end of the third quarter of the year, I’d noted that I read about 15 books that I thought would fit. Looking at the books that I’ve read since then, I think my final total would be somewhere around 4 more bringing me up to a total of 19. I think that’s a pretty good number, so I’m counting it as a goal accomplished even though I didn’t get to all of the books that I’d had in mind. At the very least, I made a pretty solid dent in that list!

9) Read my Top 21 to Read in 2021 – Did Not Accomplish!

My single biggest frustration this year was the fact that I got nowhere near accomplishing this goal! It’s a bit ironic since these were all books that I was highly anticipating and actively wanted to read, but somehow I didn’t end up touching most of them. Of the 21 books that I’d picked, I only ended up reading a total of 10 of them! I think attempting to read seasonally really screwed me over this year, since I ended up saving some of these books for certain times of year, but when that time came, I somehow didn’t get to them. In a few cases, I also chose books that I didn’t have a copy of yet, and by the time I got them, it was a bit too late to prioritize them. All of the remaining books were very quick to be added to my challenge plans for 2022, except for Mister Impossible by Maggie Stiefvater which I’m debating saving for another year so I can binge the entire trilogy after the third book comes out. I’ve read Call Down the Hawk, but I’d like to reread it anyway since I picked it up toward the start of the pandemic in 2020 when I really couldn’t focus on anything properly. I’m still a bit upset that I didn’t prioritize these books properly!

10) Enjoy what I’m reading! – Accomplished!

On a technical level, I would have to say that this goal was accomplished. According to my Year in Books page on Goodreads, my average rating for the year was 4.6 stars, which I think is my highest average ever. I also had my lowest ever number of 3-star reads, with just 3 books all year rated a 3, and nothing below that. To be fair, I had a few 3.5 stars that I had to decide whether to round up or down, but in most cases I rounded them up to 4. I read a total of 101 books that I rated 5 stars, and 64 books that I rated 4 stars. I was actually a bit surprised to realize that there was such a discrepancy in these numbers because I remember feeling a bit underwhelmed overall this year. There were some amazing books that I really loved, but I generally found I had a much harder time picking favourites. However, I also said the same last year, so it might just be that I’m getting more picky!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s