Why Make a Reading Plan?

Reading Without a Plan

I’ve never had a reading plan before. My personality craves independence, and I don’t like the idea of structuring my life, particularly my entertainment, so I’ve never chosen to pre-plan my
reading, watching, or activities list for the year. I dread the feeling of being ‘boxed’ in.

Then last year, I had a personal goal – to read 70 books in 1 year. I thought, “I can read fast. I like reading, and I want to read more – this’ll be easy!” But by November, I had to sneak into my Goodreads account and amend my goal to 50 books. Then I rushed and scrambled, and read lots of short books to make that goal by the end of December.

I made it, but just barely: on December 31st, I was curled up on the couch, reading The Giraffe, the Pelican, and Me, by Roald Dahl: a very short book.

At the beginning of January, when I looked back on the list of books I had read in 2018, I realized to my chagrin that I wasn’t reading often enough. I realized I had gone at least one whole month without reading a book, and that confused me – why hadn’t I read that month? I followed my overall activities and found that when I had a lot going on in my life, I read more, and when I had little to do, I read less.

The Problem

What had gone wrong? Why couldn’t I read 70 books in 1 year?

I drilled over the answer in my mind, wondering if I was inept at consistent reading, if I was terrible at forming habits, if I was just too busy… but finally, with a dose of honest reflection, I realized the true reason:

The Answer

You see, whenever I finish a book, I get this dose of happiness in my system – a feeling of living high and achieving much! I lack a driving need to pick up the next book because I felt like I have done enough – I have already achieved!

Without a list of books to motivate me throughout the year, I have to find new motivation every time I finish a book. When the book is ended, I forget about any books anyone has previously recommended, I forget about the ones I said I would read, or even the ones I wanted to read, and I simply do not pick up another book.

It was this realization that drove me to finally make a reading list.

With a Reading List

Taking books I had recently bought, books I’ve been meaning to read for forever, and a smattering of beloved favorites, I made a list of 51 books – some short, many long – that I want to read in 1 year, and I have read so much more already than I had at this time, last year. And, I’m doing it with less stress! You can see my reading list here, and if you want, you can follow what rating I give to each book as the year progresses.

In Summary

Why have a reading list? Because the motivation is inherent in it! You don’t have to rekindle or rediscover it – it’s waiting for you, nudging you, and prompting you to keep up! The reading list also helps you to put in perspective just how much you are able to read in a year. We think we read so much, but when we see it all on paper, we are better able to recognize the limitations of our time.

Build a Reading Plan!

Do you struggle to pick up the next book? Do you go months without reading, and then regret that lost time? Take my word for it – you can read more than you think! And you can enjoy it so much more – you just need a plan. I challenge you to read more this year! If you want to build your own reading plan and challenge yourself to go further and higher than ever before, I’ve put together some resources to get you started!

6 thoughts on “Why Make a Reading Plan?

  1. Interesting post! It’s funny what motivates us all. I’m half way between randomly reading and reading plans. I tend to commit to a lot of buddy reads, which keeps me pretty motivated. I take part in some reading challenges, much more specific than GoodReads “I will read X books in 2019,” but I am also largely a mood reader, so I need to have some freedom for reading whatever strikes me at the moment between planned books.

    I have felt in the past that I needed to read shorter books to keep up with reading goals, but it frustrated me because I felt like I was missing out on long, epic books which I love. So I lowered my goal this year and promised myself I wouldn’t look at page count. I’ve ended up reading a lot of short fiction anyway, because it’s been a good year for it, but I’ve also tackled some longer books I really wanted to read, and my page count has evened out a little to be right on track with what I’ve read in the past.

    1. I love it! Yes, and that’s something I forgot to mention in the article, which is that I totally approve of switching around the book list during the year; especially if you find something that you just can’t help reading. Like you said, there has to be some freedom inside of the structure, or you risk turning it into a chore, instead of really enjoying it! I love the idea of Buddy reading – so cool! I often have a hard time finding someone who will read a book with me, but my brother and I are trying to pair up some of our readings, and will be releasing a podcast soon where we talk about our reactions to those readings, so that’s going to be lots of fun! What’s your favorite long book you’ve read this year?

      1. There are tons of buddies readers on GoodReads- Find a group and join in! Reading with your brother of course is also great but just putting it out there if you’d like another source. I’ve met some truly wonderful people that way.

        And weirdly- I actually haven’t enjoyed the long fiction I’ve read this year! So far I’ve read The Stand at 1,345 pages, The Priory of the Orange Tree at 848 pages, and Black Leopard, Red Wolf, at 600+ pages (But was very dense). The longest book I read and loved was 560 pages, and called The Wolf in the Whale by Jordanna Max Brodsky. It was a surprise hit that I picked up on a whim and fell in love with.

      2. I’ll definitely have to check that out! I think I’ve heard of the goodreads buddy system before, but I totally forgot! I’m pretty active on goodreads, but I’m not always able to access all the features, since I don’t find the platform very intuitive. I feel like you have to know about the features in order to find them.
        So sad that you haven’t enjoyed the long ones you read this year! It’s always a pity when we spend all our time on something, and then don’t love it! Or feel like we get anything out of it. (I’m actually just about to publish an article on that, encouraging people to read 1/3 of a book, and then decide if it’s worth their time to finish.) Although sometimes, books have to be digested over time before we realize that we actually got something out of it after all. I think that’s what’s nice about reading it with other people – through discussion, you get more insight.
        I love when you find a random book that you aren’t expecting, and then it turns out to be a favorite! I did that with Middlemarch, by George Eliot, and now it’s one of my top favorite books of all time!

      3. If you do give the GoodReads buddy reads a try, find a group first that shares similar interests with you and see if they have a thread to post for buddies in, or maybe there’s an existing buddy read you can join in on. I used to do a lot of buddy reads with The Challenge Factory, but since then the SFF book club has started a buddy read thread that I am able to connect with lots of readers over.

        And yes it is disappointing not to be jiving with those longer reads, and I could have DNF’d any of them, but I always hold out hope that it will get better. Some of my favorite reads don’t really click with me until the end, so I just plug on through.

      4. Thanks for the advice! I’m so excited about this!

        Makes sense about the long reads – I often wait till the end for a final judgement as well. Because even if the whole thing is great, a badly set up ending can really spoil it!

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