2021 Goals: Reading Challenges

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Last year I said I was thinking about taking it easier on reading challenges, then ended up overloading myself anyway. This year, I mean it.

The 2020 Challenge Rundown:

  1. Mount TBR – read 150 of my own books owned prior to the start of the year
  2. The PopSugar Ultimate Reading Challenge – 52 prompt-based reads
  3. Around the Year in 52 Books – 52 different prompt-based reads with a recommended-but-not-mandatory weekly schedule
  4. The Reading Frenzy’s monthly Travel-a-Thon challenges – 5 or 6 prompts based around a country or city
  5. Personal challenge – getting through my entire 2017 backlog of books
  6. Personal challenge – finish the Realms of the Elderlings series

I finished everything but #4, though not with as much breathing room as usual, and it felt hard. As for the Travel-a-thon, I skipped one month over the summer, then stopped completely at the end of October, because I was burned out.

I hear you, Universe–I’m taking on too much and over-structuring my reading. I’ve been doing it for years and mostly keeping up, but now it’s time to relax.

But I’m still planning to read a lot and I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t tackle at least some sort of challenge. Here’s my 2021 proposal:

  1. Mount TBR, but only 100 instead of 150
  2. Tackle the 2018 backlog, which is smaller than 2017 was (thank goodness)
  3. Revisit Beat the Backlist, which I last did in 2017, to play bingo:

I found myself participating in quite a few minor bingo challenges on social media this year, both reading- and writing-based games, and I enjoyed them a lot, because unlike a list-based challenge, there’s very little pressure to do all the things. I’m not going to let this bingo card function as a list of tasks to do: I’m simply going to mark books off as I read them, if they fit, and we’ll see how long it takes me to get a bingo!

And that’s it. Yes, I’d like to make progress on the series I’m in the middle of, but I’m not setting myself one “big” series to read in 2021 as I have in past years. Yes, I’ll likely still participate in pop-up challenges on social media like smaller-scale bingo events and readathons, which may or may not have prompts associated with them. But those are community-driven things I can’t plan for this far in advance. (There’s actually another 1Kpages readathon starting on Christmas Day that I’m tentatively penciled in for, it’s a good motivator to get a head start on that 2018 backlog.)

One more thing: to even further lessen the pressure on myself, after having a chat with a book-friend I’ve decided to stop including when I read a book in its review. Because of the way I structured my book reviews back in 2016 when I started them, I felt the need to only read one book at a time, finishing each before moving on to the next, which didn’t allow me much freedom to read according to mood. But that’s just an artificial construct, and a self-imposed one at that–who really cares what date I read a book? I’m still going to mark them on Goodreads for my own tracking purposes, so the information is still there, but it’s not relevant to my reviews, and leaving it off will mean I can start a book in January, realize I’m not in the mood for it, and finish it in April or November or whenever I am, no harm done.

I’m never going to stop being a bookworm, I’m just allowing myself to be a bookworm who doesn’t self-impose unnecessary stress about reading.

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