With the rise of Goodreads, more and more readers feel pressure to read a certain number of books during the year. This can lead to a decrease in enjoyment and cause a lack in interest in reading. So how can you avoid reading slumps and keep enjoying reading, while still meeting that year-end goal? Having set goals for myself for several years now, I have cultivated a few solid tips and tricks that decrease the pressure to meet my goal and still have a positive reading year.
1. Never force yourself to read a book that doesn’t interest you.
If you are reading a book that bores you, that you find you dislike, or that you cannot connect with, do not force yourself to finish that book. You may feel that obligation to finish because you want to get your numbers up, but this will only slow you down in the long run. You will take longer to read a book you don’t care for, ultimately robbing yourself of time you could’ve spent reading books you like better. If a book isn’t doing it for you, DNF and move on to the next one. A good book will always be easier (and therefore quicker!) to get through than a bad one, and you’ll not only read more books this way, but will enjoy the books you’re reading.
2. Reread old favorites.
When you read a book again, you get through the material faster. Reading a book for the first time is a new experience when you have to not only read the words, but acquaint yourself with the world. Rereading a book is like returning to an old neighborhood. Everything is already familiar and you’re just refreshing your memory. Plus, you already know you love the book, so you know your experience will be positive. You’ll watch your read total go up and you won’t feel like you’ve done any work.
3. Add graphic novels to your TBR.
It may feel like cheating, but you’re getting the same experience as reading a novel, just in a different format. You still read lots of text and have images to examine. If you don’t know where to start with graphic novels, consider what sorts of stories interest you or research franchises you already love. For example, I got into graphic novels because I love Star Wars and discovered Marvel has several running series in the Star Wars universe. From there, I began discovering other series that piqued my interest. You can also ask someone who enjoys graphic novels for recommendations. Graphic novels are quick, enjoyable reads that will increase your book total painlessly.
4. Don’t read based on book size— this can be misleading.
Some people make the mistake of picking a physically short book to help meet their goal, mistakenly assuming it will be a quick and easy read. Or, contrarily, they avoid larger books believing they will take too long. However, it is never the size of the book that determines the reading speed, it is the writing style and pacing the author utilizes. Do your research. This can be as easy as checking spoiler-free reviews of the book in question or asking people who have read the book. A short book could be very dense with elevated diction and take forever to get through, while a larger book could be fast-paced and written in a simpler style. Looks can be deceiving, but words never are.
5. Read based on your interests.
If there is a certain topic or genre that you enjoy, try to pick books that deal with that. Additionally, consider the books you’ve read in the past. What tropes and writing styles do you enjoy? What character archetypes do you find yourself gravitating towards? Try to read books that consist of these things. Again, this will take some research. Fortunately, the bookish community has several resources in order to help you. Read spoiler-free reviews and ask people who have read the book in question if they have the things you like in it. Now, this doesn’t mean you should avoid trying new things. Absolutely read outside your comfort zone. But if you find yourself stressing about meeting your goals, look for a book a little closer to home.
If you follow these tips, you are sure to not only meet your goals, but enjoy the ride. The pressure to meet that reading challenge, whether it’s on Goodreads or a challenge against yourself, should never overwhelm you to the point you stop reading altogether. Overall, trust your gut. It knows what books will bring you the sense of joy and accomplishment you desire. Use these tips and maybe, just maybe, you’ll even surpass those goals with a smile on your face and new words in your heart.