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My Only Reading Goal This Year is to Have Fun

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Matt Grant

Staff Writer

Matt Grant is a Brooklyn-based writer, reader, and pop culture enthusiast. In addition to BookRiot, he is a staff writer at LitHub, where he writes about book news. Matt's work has appeared in Longreads, The Brooklyn Rail,, Huffpost, and more. You can follow him online at or on Twitter: @mattgrantwriter

Last year, I set a seemingly impossible goal for myself: to read one hundred books in 2019.

For a long time before that, I averaged only 30 or so books a year. Starting in 2017, I wanted to improve that number. So for the first time ever, I set a Goodreads goal. That year, I surprised myself by reading 45 out of 40 books. In 2018, I did even better: 70 out of 50 books. So in 2019, I decided to push my goal to its absolute limit.

I never thought that I would actually be able to read 100 books in one year. But I made it—barely. In fact, I even managed to surpass my goal by one.

I read 101 books in 2019, but it wasn’t easy. In fact, looking back on it, most of the year was rather stressful. I was constantly trying to “game” the goal by strategically picking books I knew I could finish quickly. It’s not that I only read books I didn’t want to. But it did mean that there were some books I wanted to read that I deliberately didn’t. I shied away from some longer books, or books that looked interesting, because I was constantly thinking about meeting my goal.

Although I did read The Brothers Karamazovso there’s that.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m extremely proud of this accomplishment, and I absolutely understand why people set goals. I mean, look at me: I more than tripled the amount of books I read in just three years. There’s no way I would have done that without setting a goal.

But I also realized that, for me at least, setting a goal took some of the fun out of reading. I shouldn’t be stressed about making a certain page count every day. I shouldn’t be picking books based on my goal, I should pick them based on what I want to read.

So I set myself a new goal this year: to have fun reading. That’s it. I’m taking a break from setting a book goal, and I’m already much less stressed and enjoying reading more. I can read a book at my own pace. I can choose not to read if I’m not feeling it on my commute or on my lunch break. I can listen to some podcasts instead of audiobooks if I want to (tip: Slow Burn is amazing). It means that I might *gasp* choose not to finish a book if I’m not into it.

Some of that old familiar tension is still there for sure, especially when I look at all the books I want to read. But I imagine that will take some time to get over. I don’t begrudge anyone for setting reading goals—in fact, I applaud them. And who knows? I may try another goal one day in the future.

But for now, I know I’m just looking forward to taking it easy and having fun reading.