Yearly book goals are very popular. But maybe they aren’t the best idea.
Let me start by saying that I do, in fact, set a yearly book goal. But that doesn’t mean it’s for everyone. In fact, setting an annual goal for how many books to read can negatively impact your reading! I’ll tell you what I mean.
But before I do that, there are also some good reasons to set annual book goals that I will share.
How a Yearly Book Goal Can Help Your Reading
There are so many great reasons to read more. Scientifically, reading heightens brain connectivity, enhances fluid reasoning, and increases emotional intelligence. So making it a point to read a certain number of books in a year makes sense.
Setting a goal challenges you to keep reading. If you ended the year with the feeling that you didn’t read as much as you would have liked, setting a goal for the next year could help.
And an annual goal can also help you pace your reading based on your own lifestyle. Maybe reading a set number of books each month suits you. Or, if your reading tends to be more seasonal – maybe it increases in winter and drops off in summer – setting an annual goal can help you pace each season.
But what if setting your book goal for the year actually works against you?
How a Yearly Book Goal Can Hurt Your Reading
Challenging yourself to read more is a good thing. You won’t find me arguing otherwise. But perhaps a predetermined number of books to read in a year isn’t the best approach.
Sure, you may reach your goal, thus reading more. But if you’re a very goal focused person, you could become more focused on the goal and less focused on what you are actually reading.
Consider this: Would you be more inclined to read a shorter book because you’d be able to finish it faster, thus getting you closer to your goal more quickly? Be honest.
If you answered ‘yes’, a yearly book goal could ultimately work against you. Because the overarching intent isn’t that you simply read more books, right? The whole idea is to improve your reading life. And reading potentially lesser quality books, or books that don’t give you what you need, just because they help you reach your number doesn’t improve your reading life.
To be very clear – I do NOT believe that shorter books are bad and longer books are good. But picking a book based on it’s length is a lot like choosing a book for it’s cover. You could get lucky, but you could also lose out on a great read just because it would have taken you longer to finish.
While setting goals is generally accepted as a good way to get ahead and to achieve success, it might not work in your favor here.
For me, setting a goal is more of a guideline. I’m not tied to the number. So it’s fine with me if I don’t reach my intended number of books for the year, as long as I’m satisfied with what I did read.
If you’re going to set a yearly book goal, be realistic about how it will help or hurt your reading, be sure your goal is attainable, and most importantly, don’t let reaching the number overshadow the quality of books you read.