When I started using my personal blog to keep track of my reading back in 2007, my motivations were mostly personal. I read a lot of books and wanted to remember what I had read and how I felt about it. A monthly post with short reviews about each of the books I read has turned out to be the most enduring feature of my mostly neglected blog, and keeping track of my personal trends in reading has produced some interesting insights into my habits.

Last year I read 84 books, which was ten more than I had read in 2014. I had resolved to read fewer books in 2015, but like most of my usual attempts at making resolutions, I failed miserably. I’ve always been a fast reader, and too often when I start a book I begin to feel compulsive about it and have a hard time doing anything else until I finish. Reading is easy and comfortable, so I tend to gravitate towards it instead of doing other more productive things with my time. Reading 84 books in a year is a great accomplishment, but there were a lot of other things I didn’t do, like regularly study my scriptures, exercise, or write in my journal as often as I would have liked.

Although I could definitely use more balance in my life, the reading I did in 2015 was not a total waste of time. I discovered the fantasy novels of Brandon Sanderson, the wisdom of Brené Brown, and the beautiful craftsmanship of Rebecca Solnit. At the beginning of the year I set a small goal to read, or re-read, some more “classic” books and fed my brain occasionally with meatier fare than some of my usual romances and thrillers. I was sad to realize that I didn’t read much nonfiction, especially compared to how much I read a few years ago (I blame sites like Overdrive and Amazon for suggesting similar titles to ones I’ve just read—they make it way too easy to get stuck in genre rut).

The start of a new year brought a flurry of blog and Facebook posts from friends listing their reading accomplishments from 2015. Some had set specific goals to reach, such as a certain number of pages or total books. Others followed ‘reading challenges’ that outlined a variety of books to try, and still others set more specific goals like reading all the Pulitzer Prize winners for fiction. A small part of me that likes a challenge feels tempted to set a similar goal for myself, but for the most part I think I would rather be free to choose to read what I like. This year I’m going to read more nonfiction and I will also try to seek out some older books as well as some books written in other languages and translated into English. I’m not sure if I should try to read fewer books or not—that seems to be an impossible quest.

Do you ever set reading goals or resolutions? How do you keep track of what you read? What were some of your favorite books from 2015?

Jessie

(Blog Team) served a mission in Spain and graduated from BYU with bachelor's degrees in Spanish Translation and English, as well as a master's in Spanish Literature. She currently works full-time at a university library and nurtures her three children, one cat, and a fluctuating number of fish. She relaxes by reading, baking, canning fruit, and putting together jigsaw puzzles.

4 Comments

  1. Debra

    January 22, 2016

    i try to read an average of one book a week. sometimes i go through reading frenzies, and sometimes i go through droughts, but i’ve found that i read right around 50 books a year and that usually means a healthy balance of reading and also getting other things accomplished in my life.

    i tried keeping track of books in a book journal, on goodreads, and on a blog, but none of those worked for me. for the past two years, i’ve been keeping track on instagram, which works really well for me. as soon as i finish the book, i snap a picture, write a quick summary and how i felt about the book, and then hashtag it with #debbys20**reads (whichever year i’m in) so that i can easily click on the hashtag and pull up the books that i read for a specific year. it’s been my best method so far.

  2. KIm

    January 22, 2016

    Jessie,

    I love that you read so much! Why would anyone try to read less!

    I keep an electronic list on my tablet.

    I try to “earn” the right to read fiction, by first reading my scriptures or finishing preparing my upcoming lesson, etc.

    But I think it’s terrific that you read so much! Who cares about genre ruts…I think reading of most any kind stretches the mind!

    Congrats….

  3. Kellie aka Selwyn

    January 24, 2016

    My goal is to keep track of the titles I read, just to see how high the number is. Also, to not care or have “guilty pleasures” – I’m going to enjoy what I read!

    Some of my favourite books from 2015 were:
    Queen of the Tearling
    Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet
    “The Others” series (from 2013-15) Anne Bishop
    Goblin Emperor
    Calvin
    and many others!

  4. Emma @EverEmma

    February 4, 2016

    I’m all about studying your habits to make reading resolutions! I usually keep track of everything on Goodreads and sit down to analyze my reading habits at the end of each quarter of the year. I wish that I was as focused and determined with some of my other activities like exercise! This is probably a horrible thing to admit, but I have a hard time re-reading and often try to incorporate uplifting or other spiritual-type books to study sometimes instead of reading scriptures.

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