Thanksgiving is now a memory, and the holidays are here, which means two important thing to book lovers. One, it is time for book shopping (but, seriously, when isn’t it time for book shopping?) for gifts and supplying lists of what books we might like to receive, and, two, we are in the home stretch for our reading for 2016. Depending on where we are with our reading goals, this can bring feelings of excitement or dread. Is there still time to turn a stalled reading schedule around? Let’s find out.
Those of us who make lists, or otherwise keep track of our reading, have a pretty good idea by this time of year, if we are going to make any reading goals we set back in January. Feels like a whole different world from only a few months ago, and it is, and the hustle of the holiday season may make it look like there isn’t a lot of time to make up any lack, as if any of us needed any more stress at this time of year. The good thing, though, is that there’s still time. This is, for many, considered a season of miracles. No reason that can’t apply to the TBR shelf (case, crate, storage unit, as the case may be) as well.
While some of us go from book to book with nary a thought of keeping track, perfectly happy to take the experience of reading for the joy of the moment (which is a perfectly good way to go about this sort of thing) others prefer to set goals, in whatever form (which is also a perfectly good way to go about this sort of thing) or at least give it a try. Be that try for purposes of reining in an out of control TBR monster, or the love of organizing every dang thing that can be organized, there are ups and downs to the whole idea. For example, not that the person writing this post knows anything about this from first hand experience, there is the purely hypothetical act of idly browsing a site where one might record one’s reading and noticing that there is an option to set a goal of reading so many books in that year.
One might see that option and tick the box, and, when asked for a number of books to set as that goal, enter fifty as a perfectly reasonable amount. Fifty it is. Well. Let us suppose, now, that this box-ticking happens, not on a frosty January morn, but when a summer breeze wafts through the window. Let us also suppose that the workings of this goal setting whatchamacallit do not understand that this goal was set in the middle of the year and immediately, and cheerfully, reminds one that one is double digits books behind one’s goal. Uh, what now?
Obviously, the answer is to get cracking and read some books, dang the torpedoes. Never mind that life is going full tilt, TBR monster continues to grow unchecked, and there is now the pressure to get those books read…but which ones? The more books, the more choices. The more choices, the more dilemmas. The more dilemmas, the longer it takes to solve them. The longer it takes to solve them, the less time there is for actually reading the books and meeting the goal. All of a sudden, what was meant to be a fun challenge is now pointing and laughing at the reader, who only had the best of intentions going into this whole mess, and…STOP. Breathe. Remember reading is meant to be fun, after all, and the point of reading is to please oneself, and is this really pleasing anybody, if reading gets to be a race or a chore?
The math at this point becomes fairly easy. Take the number of days left in the year, divide by number of books left to reach goal, and that cuts things down somewhat. Given the options for reading, we can spread that over paper books, as well as electronic versions, which can be read on an array of devices, on the go as well as bundled in bed, chair, or sofa. If we’re talking numbers alone, then novellas and other short works, this is your moment. Bring on the romantic amuse bouches (fancy food term that roughly translates to “bite sized appetizer”) – all the prequels, sequels, and spinoffs from beloved series, with perhaps a standalone short now and again to keep things interesting.
As long as we’re talking series, this would be the perfect time to swallow one whole, if one picks up speed when reading connected books. If, on the other hand, one is of the sort who likes to stop and go back and double check, this may not be the best time for that. One might focus on favorite authors, tropes, or settings, hoping for a one-two punch of enthusiasm and familiarity to carry them through at a faster pace. One might also remember this dilemma for next time, and actually do one’s goal-setting at the beginning of the year rather than halfway through. Then again, one might also find oneself distracted by a new discovery and plow straight through without even a thought to keeping track of where one is going, and then where will one be? No way to tell but keep going forward.
So, dear readers. I turn it now over to you. Did you set any reading goals for 2016? If so, how are you doing? When you set reading goals, is it a numbers game, or something more flexible, like “read all of New Favorite Author’s backlist,” or “read more books with cats in them/set in Ancient Rome/with red-haired heroes?” Bonus points if you can name a book that hits all three of those qualifications in one volume. How do you keep track of your reading? The modern way, with reader’s websites, the old fashioned way, with paper and pen, or is everything stored in the ol’ brain vault, because you remember? Is the whole idea of keeping track of one’s reading goals -or setting them in the first place- incomprehensible, because that would take out all of the fun? We want to hear from you, too. Pull up a chair in the comments section and tell us all about it. There’s room for everybody at this table.