You love reading. But when you think back do you have a hard time remembering what you’ve read in the past month, let alone year? Or maybe you’re embarrassed to admit you’ve only had time to read a book or two in the last year? I would guess that most of us have been there at one point or another. We’ve got so much else to keep in mind in a given day, who’s got time to remember what books they’ve read or want to read? When there are so many other demands on your time, reading often falls by the wayside. Even a good Netflix binge can be reason enough to justify setting your book aside. Trust me, I know all about that. There’s nothing really wrong with any of that, but if you find yourself wishing you read more often you are not alone. Let me show you what has helped me to read more!
Why Track Your Reading?
If you’re like me there are HUNDREDS of books out there waiting for you to read them and they grow in number by the day. Tracking your reading and setting reading goals can motivate you to read more and help keep that growing list of books at a (somewhat) reasonable level (maybe).
In the past, I couldn’t tell you how many books I read per year, but I knew it wasn’t a number I’d be particularly proud of. I am someone who has loved reading her whole life and who is capable of devouring books like there’s no tomorrow. But life fills up with other things and before I knew it I was struggling to remember what the last book I read was, let alone when I read it. Since I began setting goals for my reading, not only can I tell you exactly how many books I’ve read in the year, but I bet I can recall most of them off the top of my head. If I’ve forgotten any, I know where to pull up a list to find them in just seconds.
I can recommend books I’ve read recently to friends and family more easily. I can recall favorite books from the year (and not-so-favorite ones) in no time. But more than anything, I’ve read more and I’ve enjoyed reading more as well. I’ve said that beginning to goal set and track my reading has transformed the way I read and deepened the relationship I create with books. That sounds a little weird, I know. But what I mean by that is I connect more with what I am reading because I am actively looking forward to reading specific things. It’s easier now for me to prioritize reading because I have goals set and a plan for what to read. Instead of feeling paralyzed by the huge amount of choices out there, I already know what books I’ve got coming up next before I finish the one I’m on. Quite simply, thinking more about your book choices causes you to be more aware of your reading and to retain that information.
How to Track Your Reading
The method I suggest is coming up with a running list of what you’re interested in reading that you’ll work off of. When I hear about I book I want to check out, I try to write it down somewhere right away. Raise your hand if you’ve forgotten more titles of recommended books than ones you’ve actually read! *Waves hand enthusiastically in the air.* Take some time to think about what books you’re in the mood for right now and simply parcel those out over the next few months.
For example, I plan to read about 45 books this year, so I’ll be reading 4 or 5 books each month. Decide how many books you are hoping to read this year and/or settle on what seems like a reasonable amount of books you’d like to read each month. Let’s say you think reading two books each month sounds about right for you. Write down the next few months on a slip of paper and fill in the books you’re excited about reading under each month. Two for January, two for February and so on… So, just like that, you’ve already got a few months of reading goals set for yourself!
You can keep going and start planning out the whole year or just stick with the season. Obviously none of this is set in stone (if it is I suggest you update your writing implements) and you can switch books around depending on your mood or need. There will be some months you get to more books than planned and some where you’re hardly able to find any reading time at all. That’s perfectly fine! Flip your books around as you see fit. The point is to set some goals and do your best to stick to them. There’s no reason to take it too seriously if it’s starting to give you flashbacks of daunting homework assignments or something. First and foremost, reading should be fun. Setting goals, for me, is a way to make sure I’m prioritizing something that brings a lot of joy to my life: reading!
For those that like step-by-step instructions:
- List books you want to read.
- Decide how many books you want to read in a given month.
- List out the next month or few months.
- Fill in the number of books you’ve chosen from your list under each month.
- Start reading!
So far as I know, there really isn’t a bad way to go about this. You can keep a list in the notes on your phone, as I used to do. If you have a Goodreads account, that might be all you need to keep your goals organized. You can keep a handwritten list posted to your fridge. If you keep a journal or reading journal, jot down a list in the front that you can refer to often. Next week, I’ll show you the current method I use for tracking my reading goals, which is with a handy little app called Trello.
Do you track your reading goals? Share what method works for you!