I’ve never been too great at following annual TBRs and reading lists; setting yearly intentions, on the other hand, is extremely rewarding for me.
Last year, I made a list of my reading-related goals for the year. In reflecting, I found that they were super effective in helping me to engage with books more intentionally! I also realized that they’re a helpful benchmark for me to mark how I grow as a reader throughout the year.
This year, I’d like to focus a lot more on how I engage with the book community and what role I can play as a reader. For example, I find it super rewarding to discuss books with others, so I’d like to contribute more of my thoughts on what I read!
1. Read 50 books
Back in high school, I’d set my reading goal to 50 books each year, and would never reach that mark. In 2020, I finally decided to get real with myself and set my goal to 25. But as it happened to turn out, I did reach 50 books that year! Last year, I increased my goal to 30, and I ended up reading 100 books!
While I am a huge proponent of quality over quantity when it comes to reading (and most other things in life), I find that setting myself a number keeps me motivated to prioritize reading more. Now that I’ve been able to read 50 books for the past two years and have increased the presence of reading in my daily life, I feel more comfortable setting myself the goal of 50 books again. It’s a bit of a jump from 40, but—aside from the fact that I have an aversion to the number four since it’s unlucky in Chinese culture—I’d like to challenge myself!
However, I also want to set myself the intention to read carefully, and to enjoy the books I read, rather than purposely seeking out books that will help me hit my goal faster.
2. Read more books by underrepresented authors who hold identities different from my own
Last year, I set myself the goal of reading more books by “BIPOC, POC, and underrepresented authors.” While I did read almost all authors of color in 2021, I found myself gravitating toward books by cis-het, abled, Chinese American and East Asian authors because those stories felt relatable and comfortable.
While I love those books so much and will continue to read books by Chinese American and East Asian authors—because it feels so nice to find stories that resonate deeply with my own experiences—I think it’s also extremely important to read stories by authors who have different identities from me, and stories about experiences I haven’t had.
With this goal, I have an intention of reading books by authors of differing racial/ethnic identities, including Black, Indigenous, Pacific Islander, Latinx, South Asian, Southeast Asian, and West Asian authors. I’d also like to read more books by LGBTQ+ authors, disabled authors, neurodivergent authors. I want to read more books by non-American authors and authors who have different religious views from my own. This is obviously a non-exhaustive list of identities held by authors whose works I haven’t read enough of, but regardless of whether I’ve named them here or not, I want to seek these books out!
3. Read more non-fiction books
Every time I finish reading a non-fiction book, I realized how truly rewarding they are. However, I usually gravitate toward fiction because frankly, the prospect of picking up a non-fiction book often feels daunting and boredom-inducing.
But, I really want to grow my knowledge base and develop my passion for self-learning. There’s so many subjects out there that I’d like to learn more of. Especially in topics of feminism, race, class, and more, I want to increase my familiarity with these subjects so I can better navigate my place in the world and the communities around me.
4. Standardize my rating system
I want to set guidelines for how I rate books because I’ve realized in the past year that the number of stars I’ll give becomes extremely subjective—I’ll often compare a book I’m rating to one I’ve just read, or I’ll realize later that I didn’t like a five-star read as much as another five-star read. If it sounds wacky, it totally is…I didn’t expect book-rating to be this difficult for me!
Starting this year, I’m going to write out my parameters for each star rating, and try to use them as a sort of “rubric” for evaluating books:
Five stars – This book is a new favorite; I completely enjoyed it; it changed my worldview; and/or the craft is just so exceptional that even if I wouldn’t call it a favorite, I think the book is flawless.
Four stars – I enjoyed the book and think it’s well-written, but there are some flaws or it just didn’t impact me as deeply.
Three stars – The book is okay—it has a mix of pros-and-cons, and is not one that I’ll think much on later or want to reread.
Two stars – This book was a chore to get through and I didn’t enjoy the reading experience. The craft is more bad than good.
One star – I have never given a one-star rating and I hope I never read a book so bad that I’ll feel compelled to. I imagine this book to be absolutely terrible, with no redeeming qualities.
Despite creating these new guidelines, I expect that it’ll still take me a while to hone my rating skills. I hope, though, that this will help me in being more objective in my ratings (objective not in the sense that my ratings are without opinion, but that they are standardized and not made in comparison to other books). I think I’m also going to only give full-star ratings (rather than half-stars), as I feel it will force me to really develop what my standards are.
5. Share more of my thoughts on what I read
Along with my previous goal, I want to explain more about why I’m giving a book a certain rating. I think this will be helpful not only for other readers who want to know more about a book and for increasing discussion, but I also feel this will be super rewarding for myself as well! Reflecting on what I liked and disliked about a book and articulating my thoughts will sharpen my reading skills and increase my capability to talk thoughtfully about books.
In the past, I’ve often avoided writing reviews on my blog and on Goodreads because I put pressure on myself to make them extremely thorough and professional. As a perfectionist, I also feel like if I write a review on one book, I need to write reviews on every single book. I want to combat this tendency by pushing myself to be more casual about sharing my thoughts—and although I’d like to do so more, I at the same time want to relieve myself of the pressure to write an essay about every book I read.
I want to write more Goodreads reviews and share more of my opinions on my Bookstagram! And maybe even writing more short and sweet reviews on this blog?
6. Give monthly updates on my blog
I never really keep up with posting consistently on my blog, because school always gets in the way of me sitting down for a long while. However, one goal I want to implement this year is to give monthly updates about not only what I’m reading, but also about my personal life! I’ve seen a lot of other bookblogs do similar series, and I love the idea of this blog being a record of where I am in my life, and the context in which I’m reading the books I talk about. And hopefully this will help you readers get to know me more as well!
7. Participate in reading challenges and other community events
I joined Subtle Asian Book Club in 2020, and I’ve found it to be immensely rewarding. It keeps me reading each month (and even more than that when the book club does challenges like 2021’s summer bingo), helps me determine my TBR when I have no idea what to read next, and has provided an amazing community! I love that through this book club, I can talk to others who are reading the same books as I am, as well as find recommendations and opportunities for casual conversation!
I’m (obviously) going to keep reading with SABC, but since it’s been such a rewarding experience, I’m going to try joining in on other community events as well! I’m planning to participate in Pondathon II, a 2022 readathon created by CW at The Quiet Pond. I love that this thon is year-long, as it’ll motivate me to keep reading. This one specifically seems super fun, since it’s story-driven and full of challenges. It’s clear that CW has put a ton of effort into organizing this thon, and I can’t wait to participate!
Hey, look at me, I’m stopping here even though seven isn’t as round of a number as five or 10—I’m already overcoming my perfectionism!
I’m really excited for this year and all the books I’ve yet to read (especially because it’s BABEL year…). I feel uncertain about what’s ahead of me in my personal life, but although the unknown feels scary, it also feels full of possibilities!
What are your bookish goals for this year? Let me know in the comments!
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