• Kara C White

Reading Goals: More Than a Number

Updated: Apr 28

It's as seasonal as rain showers in the spring and pumpkin spice in the fall; a new year ushers in a rush of resolutions and goals for the next 12 months. While any day is a good day to set some new intentions for yourself, I'm using the start of the year to reset my goals for my reading life-- and you can, too!

Past surveys from the Pew Research Center indicate the average person in the U.S. reads about 12 books per year. Another study shows some people don't read a single book during the course of a year. Of course, other voracious readers devour title after title. I've seen year-end review posts from fellow Bookstagrammers who recorded reading dozens and dozens of books during 2020.


This year, I'm aiming to read 50 books. This is double my 2020 goal which I kept conservative because I was also devoting a significant amount of time to graduate school work. With my degree complete (Yay!), I'm ready to challenge myself a bit. This will require me to balance quantity and quality in my reading life. I don't want to race through books I don't love or books I would have loved if I'd only slowed down to savor them a bit, all in the name of meeting my numerical goal. No matter the exact count of titles I read, my overall goal is a rich and satisfying reading life.

To that end, I'm looking at my reading goals for 2021 as more than just a number. I realized that the thing I wanted most out of books this year is depth. Think of it as a one-word motto to describe my reading life in the next 12 months.


In order to achieve this depth, I thought about the types of books I wanted to read and how these books could create a mix of fulfilling reading experiences for me. Ultimately, I identified five categories to guide and inform my book choices this year.


  1. Books written by women who don't look like me

  2. Non-fiction titles about topics I find interesting or know little about

  3. Backlist novels or classic works I've never gotten around to reading

  4. YA or middle grade novels that may spark discussions with my children

  5. Books that offer a different structure or form of writing, such as collections of poetry, a play, or a novel written in an experimental style (I'm giving myself a lot of leeway with this category)

By selecting books from these categories for my monthly TBR pile, over the course of the year I'll read a varied and expansive collection of works. Now this doesn't mean I will only read books that fall into these five categories. If a well-reviewed, much-anticipated book comes out which interests me, I'll read it. I also hope to read a few memoirs during the year. I don't often re-read books, but I plan to revisit at least a couple of old favorites. The categories I've identified are meant to guide my reading journey over the next 12 months, not restrict it.

My January TBR stack which I revealed last week is a pretty good reflection of my guidelines at work. I've got a middle grade novel written in verse, books written by African-American women, a non-fiction work, a novel it feels like everyone has read but me, and a collection of short stories. Not every month's list will line up so neatly with my categories, but it's a good place to start!



So if you're looking to revive, reshape, or redefine your reading life by setting some goals this year, that's great! You can set a certain number of books to read, but I also encourage you to develop your goals even further.

  • What's one word that you might use to describe what you want out of your reading time this year?

  • What kinds of books do you want to read? Do you want variety or do you want to go all in with a certain genre or author?

  • What will challenge you as a reader and as a person while allowing you to maintain the joy which books bring to your life?

With answers to those questions in mind, you'll be well on your way to a fulfilling reading adventure. I'd love to hear about your plans and the titles you're reading! Use the Log In/Sign Up button at the top of the page to receive email alerts about new blog posts and to share your comments. You can also follow me on Instagram @kara.c.white. I post there frequently about new blog entries and all things bookish. Best wishes for further reading!






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