7 Stages of End-of-the-Year Reader Grief

Dana Staves

Staff Writer

Going through life with an apron tied on and a pen in her hand, Dana Staves writes about books and food. She also writes a little fiction. She lives in Maryland with her wife, their son, and their cat.

Every year, I think I’m going to be healthy and reasonable about my reading life. I tell myself that I understand the limitations on my time and energy, and it’s simply not possible to read all the books. But then there comes a day in November that shoots all that healthy thinking straight to Hell. It’s when Goodreads Choice Awards come around, and I log in to see what the nominations are this year. And I click through each genre category, and I realize I haven’t read all the books I meant to. Like, not even close. I can’t even vote in some of the categories because I haven’t read the books! And then I realize…the year is almost over. The voting has commenced. THERE IS NO TIME! Thus begins the seven stages of end-of-the-year reader grief.

Shock & Denial


What? We just did Halloween! How can it be time for best books of the year? I still have two months! That’s tons of time!

Pain & guilt

I only have two months. I am never going to get through all this year’s books before New Years. If I wasn’t such a trash human and didn’t spend so much time streaming TV shows and falling down the Facebook rabbit hole, I could have read at least four more books this year.

anger & bargaining


Four? Maybe even more! That sucks! Okay. If I don’t finish watching Mindy Project until 2018 and I take Facebook off my phone, then I can probably finish all the books on my list and fix my entire freaking life.

depression & reflection


Even if I part ways with Mindy Project right now, I just don’t see this working out. I missed the boat. That’s all there is to it. Siiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiigh. Whatever.

upward turn

Okay, you know what? No. This is not a problem. So I didn’t finish all the books. I read some good books this year! Maybe instead of trying to keep up with some arbitrary calendar of reading, I should just focus on what reading means to me.

reconstruction & working through


And who’s to say backlist reads aren’t a worthwhile use of our time? My measure of success can’t be how many books I read that were published this year, but rather how much I fed my soul with reading, how much I learned, how much I engaged, all the while keeping my toddler alive. Quality, not quantity.

acceptance & hope


It’s going to be okay. I won’t finish all those books by the end of the year, but publishing is a train that keeps chugging along. Just like me. (We’re both trains! We’re so connected!) There’s always next year to catch up, and to read a whole slew of new books!