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Crushing my goal


This year I officially crushed my reading goal.

 

Actually, I crushed the idea of choosing some arbitrary number of books to read, and it was a fantastic decision.


Setting an annual reading goal began when I was teaching high school English. Part of our curriculum incorporated independent reading time into every class to encourage our students to find their love of

students reading self-selected reading choices

the subject. We guided our students to select books that aligned with their individual interests and reading levels. This deliberate selection was meant to foster engagement and motivation, as readers are more likely to remain committed to completing books that resonate with their personal aspirations. Having each student set a measurable and individual target encouraged consistent reading habits and time management, while sharing book choices, summaries, and reviews with the class exposed them to diverse literary styles, genres, and perspectives. And, finally, students would feel a sense of accomplishment and self-confidence when they reached their goals, reinforcing the habit of lifelong learning.

 

In theory, these objectives were great. Did the plan work? Meh.

 

Because I wanted my students to see that I was in it with them, I set a goal for myself when they set their goals. Early on, we all felt a little extra oomph from the challenge that kept us going. We’d faithfully log each book we finished – my students would log their finished books in their class journal, and I chose to utilize Goodreads’ annual reading challenge as my goal management system. In class, students would do book talks where they’d share thoughts on what they read, and my Goodreads friends could see my progress as they scrolled through their feed.

 

Eventually, my students’ extra oomph wore off. Making a list in the back of their writing journal seemed like busy work, and they didn’t really see the point.


They were reading. In class. In front of me. And talking about it, with me and their peers.

And guess what – none of my students cared if I hit my goal every year. I was the teacher. Of course I was going to hit my goal. In their eyes, why would I even be an English teacher if I didn’t already love reading? It’s not like it affected my grade if I forgot to log a book – but it would definitely affect theirs. Oh, and what if they spent days trying to get into a book but they just couldn’t keep going because it didn’t resonate with them? Where they supposed to finish it just for the sake of finishing it so they could add the title their log? Wouldn’t that contradict the whole read what you love argument? Their argument was sound.


a stack of books in my To Be Read pile

I am not a teacher anymore, but for years I continued with the Goodreads challenge. At the end of last year, when it was time to set this year’s number, I realized the whole process had become a little self-serving. I knew I could meet and exceed any self-chosen goal, but why did I need accountability for something I already loved to do? I was only creating competition for myself. Other than sharing my “Year in Books” on other social media accounts as some weird bookworm flex each year, nobody else really cared how many books I read. I realized that by creating this mock competition for myself, I was creating stress where it need not be, and that took something away from my love of reading.


When I should have been slowing down to linger over the most beautifully crafted paragraphs, I was rushing through them to get to the next chapter. Instead of taking the time to revel in a book hangover after a glorious story, I was in a hurry to start the next book on my To Be Read list.

So, this year – no goal. And I am actually crushing it. I’m back to being fully immersed in the stories, and if I want to linger on them a little bit longer, there’s no arbitrary number hovering in the background, taunting me that I need to move on. The joy of reading is back.

 

Truth be told, I will read a lot of books this year. Not because I have to, but because I want to – so I can spend a little more time with the beautifully crafted paragraphs, so I can resonate with the characters, and so I can revel in the book hangovers.


When I read for quality and not for quantity, I only want to keep going.

 

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