2020 wasn’t my best year for reading. Regardless of the actual numbers, I felt dissatisfied with a lot of what I read. One positive development is that I learned I enjoy audiobooks, as long as they’re memoirs read by the author. Maybe not the most sophisticated choice, but at least it’s something. And now I can “read” while I do jigsaw puzzles.

So let’s look back briefly (because nobody wants to dwell on 2020) and then look forward.

Reading in 2020

Here are my goals and accomplishments:

1. Read 48 Books:

This year, many found reading to be a much-needed escape from reality. I struggled to concentrate. In 2019, I set a goal of 48 and read 50. In 2020. I technically finished 48 books, but only if you define book rather loosely. Goodreads made a summary page of my reading challenge that makes it feel a little less lackluster, but just barely. I don’t feel great about it overall, but it’s not something I should beat myself up over, especially not in this hellish year.

2. Decrease My TBR:

I began the year with 77 physical22 Kindle and ended with 71/26. Another success, technically.

3. Read 12 not-novels:

I read 16, including 5 audiobook/memoirs, a graphic novel, a book of speeches, and 2 social activism books.

How Many Stars?

  • 5 stars:  7 books
  • 4 stars: 23 books
  • 3 stars:  14 books
  • 2 stars:  2 books
  • 1 star: 2 books
  • 0 stars: 0 books

Pages Read:

  • January – 1085
  • February – 880
  • March – 1753
  • April – 837
  • May – 789
  • June – 1333
  • July – 1702
  • August – 1219
  • September – 1309
  • October – 1184
  • November – 1013
  • December – 714

13818. I expected it to be much lower than that. In 2019. I read 14492, which is only 674 pages difference. Not bad considering I read 2 fewer books this year.

Other Word-Related Activities:

  • My goal was to continue finding freelance contracts to edit fiction. I didn’t put much effort into this, but some of my long-time contacts paid off so I had a couple.

2021 Plans:

1. Read 36 books

When I set last year’s goal of 48, I had no idea what 2020 had in store for the world. Since I’m going into 2021 already aware that there’s an on-going pandemic (among other things), I’m backing off to a goal of 36. That’s the lowest I’ve set since 2013, but I’m doing everything possible to increase my enjoyment this year.

2. Decrease My TBR

I don’t forsee ever making great progress here. but it’s always worth trying to read the books on my shelves. At the very least, I’m more mindful of what books I buy vs borrow. I’m starting with 71 unread physical books and 26 unread Kindle books. Realistically, I’ll continue borrowing from the library, supporting my local indie shops, and picking up books as souvenirs once we’re able to travel again. I imagine people will continue to gift me books as well (though puzzles have become a popular option). But I’ll keep chipping away at my pile, whether by reading or donating.

3. Read 12 not-novels

No change to this goal—I want to continue averaging at least 1 book a month that isn’t a novel (nonfiction, poetry, essays, or fiction anthologies).

4. Read 21 minutes per day

This goal is new this year. I’ve seen a lot of people talk about reading 21 minutes every day for 2021, and it seems like a great way to achieve my other goals.

Other Word-Related Activities:

  • Editing: My professional website has been down for over a year now. I plan to fix it and start looking for more fiction contracts to keep things spicy.

In looking back at what I wrote for this section last year, I realize I didn’t really do any of it and it all still sounds like a good idea:

I may review books on Goodreads and post a monthly update here, along with an occasional longer review if something moves me. One of my (non-reading) goals for 2020 is to spend less time creating busy work for myself just to feel productive and to instead spend time accomplishing projects, goals, etc. (For example, is this post perfect? No. Am I finished spending time on it? Yes.)

Maybe I should give that another try, starting with changes to my review formats.

What are your 2021 reading goals?