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Reading Goals

Author: Naomi Liddell

It all started in 2016 when my friend Delaney announced at our Book Club that she was going to read 52 books in 52 weeks. I swear I actually laughed out loud. I absolutely adore books and I knew she was an avid reader, but I thought of that kind of goal as well, lofty at best. I mean, who has the time?! We decided that we would all use the Goodreads app to track the books we were reading and to set our own personal 2016 challenges. Not one to dismiss a goal, Delaney ended up leaving us all in the dust by reading an epic total of 79 books. In a year. Ultimate bookworm legend.

I set my goal last year as a healthy 30 books. Around two a month plus a few slim reads, I thought that was reasonable. Well, I made it to 25 and I am stupidly proud of myself for this. I have a goal of 30 again in 2018 and with copious amounts of breastfeeding ahead of me this year, I’m feeling optimistic.

I should explain my motivation behind keeping up with this annual goal thing (I’m not one for resolutions of many other kinds). I’m aware that it may seem a bit arbitrary and well, silly. But, with 2018 being my third year of aiming for a certain amount of books I have found that it absolutely, unequivocally increases the amount I read. Before, I would have opted for TV, or read no more than a page a night as I dozed off to sleep. Only to re-read the same page the next night in hope of remembering what the hell I had actually read and maybe, just maybe I could string the story together. It didn’t matter how much I was enjoying a book. I just never made the time.

Needless to say, I didn’t get through a book very fast back then. Although I had a list of books I wanted to read as long as my arm so it wasn’t a lack of want. It was just, a lack of motivation and habit.

Now, I find myself a bit more invested in what I’m reading. I actually look forward to early nights curled up with my book and I look forward to eating into my ‘To Read’ list (although I’ve recently made my peace with the fact that, much like laundry, I’ll never reach the bottom of it). I find little moments, like my lunch break at work or the maternity hospital waiting room and I seize them for a good bit of page turning.

Another reason I’m slightly obsessed with the Goodreads app is that I am nosey as hell and I love to see what other people are reading. Peering at someone’s bookshelf is a bit like having a sneak peek at the groceries of the person in front of you on the conveyor belt. The books your consume are such a personal choice. So in the spirit of nosiness, I thought I would list the 25 books I read last year, in the order that I rated them. A book round-up of sorts. Although I’m not sure that star ratings can really sum up my thoughts on a book, so I’d be happy to hear if you’ve loved or loathed any of the following yourself.

5 Stars

The Art of Frugal Hedonism: A Guide to Spending Less While Enjoying Everything More – Annie Rasor-Rowland
Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity – David Allen
The Trouble with Goats and Sheep – Joanna Cannon
Sleep Smarter: 21 Essential Strategies to Sleep Your Way to A Better Body, Better Health, and Bigger Success – Shawn Stevenson
Mating in Captivity: Reconciling the Erotic and the Domestic – Esther Perel
Gillespie and I – Jane Harris

4 Stars

The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
The Art of Living – Thích Nhất Hạnh
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society – Mary Ann Shaffer
Blindness – Jose Saramago
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks – Rebecca Skloot
Me Before You – Jojo Moyes
Ramayana – Daljit Nagra
The Legacy of Elizabeth Pringle – Kirsty Wark

3 Stars

Notes From a Small Island – Bill Bryson
The Brightest Star in The Sky – Marian Keyes
Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives – Gretchen Rubin
Into the Magic Shop: A Neurosurgeon’s Quest to Discover the Mysteries of the Brain and the Secrets of the Heart – James R. Doty
The Five People You Meet in Heaven – Mitch Albom
American Gods – Neil Gaiman
Digital vs Human: how we’ll live, love, and think in the future – Richard Watson
Sunset Song – Lewis Grassic Gibbon
Happy: Why More or Less Everything is Absolutely Fine – Derren Brown
Tinkers – Paul Harding
Dubliners – James Joyce
I love a good mix of classics, non-fiction and fiction. Anything goes really (except stories where children are mistreated or abused… I still can’t shake A Child Called It from my psyche 15 years later)!

Do you give yourself a reading goal?
Are you on the Goodreads app? (If so we should totally be friends)
What have you read recently and loved?

{Contributors}
Author
Naomi can’t decide which she loves more: adventuring with her boys or being left alone in a luxurious bath with a great book.
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34 thoughts on “Reading Goals

  1. I hadn’t heard of this app but sounds like it’s just what I need. Off to download now!

    Good luck on the reading while breastfeeding. I didn’t manage a single word with mine. I closed my kindle in the hospital as the induction drugs kicked in and didn’t open it again for 5 months!

    1. Oh you absolutely need to get the app. It’s so good. Good for discovering books too. I remember spending far too much time on Facebook when I was breastfeeding Ethan so I’m desperately hoping I can swap that with a more productive habit this time!

      1. I was the same with my first, Facebooking at all hours, and I vowed with my second to read books on my kindle when feeding, however I discovered the joy of feeding lying down side by side which turned into a bit of co-sleeping so I’m sad I didn’t read more but at least I reduced my Facebook hours and got more sleep! Definitely going to look up this app and I’m going to set myself a target too as I’m currently literally just as you describe, one page a night.

  2. I like the sound of this app! I’m trying to read more / social media less on the train to work and it seems to be working. I actually feel better for it and have read some good books lately (The Outrun and Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine are two I’ve LOVED!).

    How long is “The Art of Frugal Hedonism”? Is it one you can dip in and out of?

    1. Oh I’ve been wanting to read the Eleanor Oliphant book! Must now add The Outrun to my list too. You could definitely dip in and out of The Art of Frugal Hedonism, but I read it cover to cover and loved it. The tone of the authors is so friendly and readable. But the chapters are well split up so it would be easy to read a bit at a time.

  3. I downloaded the kindle app to phone last year when my babies were tiny and it was a game changer! My phone is a good size for holding while breastfeeding and I have got so much reading done. It also means I always have a book to hand when out and about which has come in handy more than once, much better than wasting time on Facebook which I was always doing before. I also keep an eye on the kindle daily and monthly deals so buying books is quite cheap and i think i have read books i would not normally have picked up. I think before children I might have turned my nose up at reading books on my phone, but at this point in my life, it has been a real game changer.

  4. I used to read maybe a book or two a week. Not proper books but crap chick lit books. My suitcase on holidays would be 20 books or so for a week. I’ve always been a skim reader and I’ll read books multiple times.

    Since having the kids I’ve pretty much stopped reading. Which is sad. My tastes changed and I went more into the whole Gone Girl crime thriller thing over boy meets girl, girl hates boy, boy and girl end up camping in Cornwall by fluke, boy and girl fall in love. Do you know what I mean? It just got samey?

    I’d like to read some modern classics but I find them too hard going. Like my brain needs down time between home and work (hello Instagram!). My bath hour of reading has been replaced with watching box sets instead (hello Jon Snow!).

    What’s GOOD? Like Margaret Atwood GOOD but not on TV so I can’t cheat and just watch instead?

    1. Rebecca, have you tried The Cellist of Sarajevo and The Woman In Black? Both are quite short reads but I love them both.
      Also, the book of The Godfather is fantastic. I’m not that bothered about the films but really enjoyed the books.

    2. When it comes to classics, I loved The Great Gatsby, Nineteen Eighty-Four (almost anything by Orwell actually) and The Picture of Dorian Gray. Although I’ll admit that there are copious amounts of classics I’ve started and gave up on 1/4 way through.

  5. My year 1 target was 12 (2017). I think I managed 14. All-night breastfeeding (happily just week one) have this year a bit of a boost but I’ve slowed down a bit now.
    Some book suggestions there to research!

  6. Love a good list of book recommendations!! We’re away soon so I need a good list to order from the library. It’s definitely far more satisfying than an hour spent on your phone.
    Like comments above I’m a skim reader so race through books but quite enjoy going back to them. It does also mean I need a lot of books on holiday though… I switched to a kindle after clocking up about 4kg one holiday!
    Just to chuck a couple I’ve loved recently into the mix:
    The Rosie Project (G Simsion)
    Where’d You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple. I also enjoyed her second one – Today Will Be Different

    I downloaded the GoodReads app but I deleted it as my failure to keep up with Book Admin was stressing me. I’ll have to give it another go!

    1. Hahaha! Book admin. I like it. Although I keep it pretty simple and use the app solely for star reviews once I’ve finished a book and populating my To Read list. I don’t bother with the shelves and whatnot. Going to add your recommendations to my list now 🙂

  7. I have ‘Getting Things Done’ on audio on my phone and I have bookmarked chapters and listen to it on my way in to work on days when I feel I need a kickstart. I absolutely LOVED it. I am super keen now to try your other 5 star non fiction. I work in the industry and fiction-wise would absolutely reccommend Our House by Louise Candlish (fiction) and The Alzheimer’s Solution (nf) – the latter particularly if you’re interested in how the brain works and how we can ‘exercise’ it to build it like we would any other muscle The Trouble with Goats and Sheep has been on the top of my TBR for quite some time – I must get it out!

    1. Haha Gemma, I use the audio version of the ‘Getting Things Done’ book as my motivator when I’m feeling unorganised or overwhelmed. I now find David Allen’s voice oddly comforting 😂
      I love the synopsis of both your recommendations. Officially on the To Read list. I loved The Trouble with Goats and Sheep. The descriptive atmosphere of a close-knit community in a 1970’s heatwave is just amazing.

  8. I’m a massive bookworm and love reading. My aim is 30 books a year and I have completed it for 3 years in a row now! And I am on my 15th book of the year at the moment so I am on track for this year. I use Goodreads but haven’t got the app on my phone – adding it to my to do list. I love seeing what people are reading and one of the first thing I notice about people’s houses is their bookcase.

    Some of my highlights from the last few years are:

    A Little Life – Hanya Yanagihara
    Tin Man – Sarah Winman (all of her books are amazing!)
    All the Light We Cannot See – Anthony Doerr
    Us – David Nicholls
    Elizabeth is Missing – Emma Healey
    The Paying Guests – Sarah Waters
    The Trouble With Goats and Sheep – Joanna Cannon
    The Cuckoo’s Calling and the other other two Robert Galbraith (J.K. Rowling) books

    In terms of non-fiction: The Year of Living Danishly by Helen Russell is well worth a read – I wanted to run away to Denmark and gorge myself on pastries afterwards – and The House by the Lake by Thomas Harding is very well written and gives some very interesting insights into modern history while capturing the emotion of the families beautifully.

    1. Claire this comment is GOLD! I want to read all of these. And congrats on reaching your book target! I’m feeling hopeful this year with all these recommendations.

    2. I haven’t read The Cuckoo’s Calling but I really liked The Casual Vacancy (although god it was bleak) so will give it a try.

    3. A Little Life is my favourite ever book – I have recommended it to so many people and it seems to become theirs too! Just amazing (I even named my son Jude) x

  9. This has made me download the good reads app again, used to have it and then forgot all about it! I usually aim for 2 books a month so 25 seems a good target (need to update the app with how I have got on so far) I don’t drive and the biggest thing stopping me doing it is losing out on all that reading time while commuting!! The illumination of Ursula flight and the seven deaths of Evelyn hardcastle are 2 I read through a podcast that included a book club and are 2 that I would never have chosen but really enjoyed. Currently reading into the water by Paula Hawkins (girl on the train author) and I am very intrigued but hoping things start to come together soon! Great post! Xx

  10. I’ve been keeping a list this year and am currently on 36 – you can tell I don’t have kids yet hey?!

  11. I want to be goodreads friends but I’m slightly embarrassed because I’m having a total YA fantasy binge because the state of the world right now is so depressing that I need lots of escapism . I’m currently reading Sabaa Tahir’s An Ember in the Ashes series which is freaking awesome (first one was the weakest but it’s got really good). I’m on goodreads as Ista2017 if anyone wants to add me.

    Recently I really enjoyed Trick by Natalia Jaster and The Cruel Prince by Holly Black (have to wait till 2019 for the next installment, shoot me now). My favourite book ever (non fantasy) is the Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver.

    Something I’ve got super into is audiobooks – often if you buy on kindle, you can get the audio version at a massively reduced price (like £3.99 or so) and download it so that it syncs with your book version and you can read and listen and keep your place. Very cool.

    My goal this year was 30 books and I’m already on 31 – I have a looong commute three days per week so reading is life.

    1. Kate there is absolutely nothing wrong with a bit of young adult fantasy reading. The Twilight series still holds a place in my 31-year-old heart 😂. I love an audiobook too. Especially for out walking. I had no idea that the Kindle will sync your book and audiobook. That is super cool!

    1. I have a massive intelligence crush on Esther Perel. The woman is all knowing and her book Mating In Captivity should be mandatory reading for anyone in a long term relationship. Also, check out her podcast “Where shall we begin?”. As you can tell, big fan girl here.

  12. I love reading. When I first had my daughter, I stopped reading what with breastfeeding, being tired etc – which was a first for me as normally I lose track of how many books I’d read in a year! Then I got the Kindle app on my phone and got back into it. I think Claire B might be my reading twin as agree with all those choices. Would also add in Holly McNish’s Nobody Told Me (poetry/diary about motherhood, sounds daunting, absolutely loved it); Jane Harris’ The Dry; The Mandibles by Lionel Shriver and A Gentleman in Moscow… I could go on… And for some light relief there’s always Georgette Heyer (*guiltypleasure*).
    I am going to look into Good Reads app. I also have an Amazon wish list where I add book recommendations as I come across them (just made a few entries on the back of this post)

    1. I totally get the not reading post baby. The first book I finished after having my son was a big moment where I felt a bit like the “old me” was back a bit.

  13. Moving home and a change of train line means that I have returned to reading on my daily commute and I have found myself going to bed earlier than I used to just to keep reading. My love of reading is back. My favourites this year are Eleanor Oliphant is Completely fine, Mrs Hancock and the Mermaid – these are both brilliant debut novels. This is going to hurt by Adam Kay – proper laugh out loud stuff. I’ve also enjoyed Jojo Moyes Still Me and Marian Keyes The break. I’m looking forward to reading Annie Lyon’s The Happiness list which is an ebook due out in July.
    My all time favourite, and what would be my Desert Island disc book, is La Gloire de Mon Pere (My Father’s Glory) by Marcel Pagnol. I read it over 30 years ago for my A level French (I had to get a translation to really read it) and have loved it since. The film is also beautiful. Funny I’ve managed to settle on the desert island book whereas the song is a whole different story…

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