Reading goals aren’t just for kids. If you want to improve your reading life, try out these reading goals for adults.
This school year, I’ve been particularly struck by how much focus schools put on reading. Maybe because for the first time, I have three kids in school, but reading goals are a constant discussion point at my kids’ school. Reading logs, reading journals, Lexile level, word count, read 100 books.
But what about reading goals for adults? Those don’t usually get talked about.
Just like when you were a kid, if you want to be a better reader, you need to set reading goals. If you wonder why you should read more, research shows that readers are leaders.
Reading expands your vocabulary, improves your writing, enhances memory and reduces stress. If you want to up your reading game, setting reading goals for adults will help you access all the wonderful benefits of reading.
Also, reading goals for adults don’t just have to be about the physical act of reading. Don’t worry, I’ve got a few suggestions for you that don’t involve reading challenges.
Have I got you convinced? Here are eight reading goals for adults for you to try this year.
Reading Goal #1: Read More Books
Generally, the most common of the reading goals for adults is the simple goal of reading a specific number of books. This is the basic concept of the Goodreads Challenge. You say I want to read x number of books this year and then track your progress.
I love watching my progression towards my goal each year. Hitting that specific number always gives me a gratifying sensation each year. Which is why I tend to always set my goal low to ensure I hit it.
Whether you plan to read 12 books or 120 books, setting a numerical reading goal is easy to track and helps clear out your to-read list.
Reading Goal #2: Read More Genres
Do you tend to narrow your reading selection to your favorite genres? Maybe you’ve read every John Grisham novel but never touch nonfiction. Or you’re stuck in the classics and should touch something modern – or vice versa.
One of the best reading goals for adults is to join a Reading Challenge that has you check off different categories. Then you are forced to expand the genres you read, and maybe even discover you love true crime stories or World War II historical fiction.
As it just so happens, I have the perfect Annual Reading Challenge for you. Join thousands of others and try to read a book a week with me. That’s right, my Reading Challenge has 52 different categories!
Reading Goal #3: Spend More Time Reading
Instead of setting a specific number or types of books to read, a great reading goal for adults is to spend more time reading.
Just like when you were a kid, you could set a goal to read 30 minutes each day. Maybe you read best just before bed or when you first wake up. Lunchtime, or while you wait in the carpool line.
Regardless of the time limit you set, keeping a consistent reading schedule is a great reading goal for adults who struggle to find time to read. Some days, squeezing in 20 minutes will be a challenge, but on others, I guarantee you’ll find yourself rearranging your priorities to add much more reading time.
Setting a reading goal based on time is also perfect for people who love to read slowly and drink deep from books. Sometimes in the rush to read more and more books, we lose sight of the deeper messages the author is presenting. Slowing down your read to decrease the number but increase the contemplation of the books you read can bring wonderful peace in our fast-paced world.
Reading Goal #4: Join a Book Club
Not all reading goals for adults have to concentrate on reading challenges – whether it be category, time or books read. This year, why not join a book club?
Although reading is generally a solitary endeavor, a book club brings together like-minded souls. What reader doesn’t love talking about the book they just read, lauding its strengths and laughing at its absurdities?
If you aren’t already in one, go out and try to find your tribe.
Can’t find one? Look online. Better yet, start your own. Just find a few amicable souls and lay down some ground rules. I’ve made lasting friendships from the neighborhood book club I’m in, and book club night is always one of the highlights of my month.
Reading Goal #5: Keep A Reading Journal
Whether or not you try one of the other reading goals for adults, try keeping a reading journal. Of the different ways to track your reading, you’ll find something just so satisfying about putting pen to paper and recording your thoughts.
Your reading journal can be as simple as a list of what books you read, or as complex as a detailed account of the plot, quotes, and insights from each story. Use a spare notebook or buy a gorgeous journal – just enjoy capturing your reading list.
Reading Goal #6: Read Your Shelf
This year, let’s resist the siren call of new books and set a goal to read books we already own. I don’t know a single book lover who has read every book they won. Maybe they are out there, but they feel like mythical creatures to me.
I’m as guilty as the next bookworm of letting library checkouts, new releases, and newly purchased books dominate my reading list. Meanwhile, a few unlucky books remain frozen in the land of forgotten books, patiently waiting for their turn to be read.
So this year, dig through your bookshelves to find those books you’ve been mean to read or your books worth reading again. Why not shop for new books to read from your bookshelves? Your wallet will thank you.
Reading Goal #7: Declutter Your Books
Please don’t hate me for just speaking the truth – most people own more books than they should. I’m not going to tell you how many books you should own, to each their own.
However, if you look through your bookshelves, likely you have books you don’t need. Fad diet books. Books gifted from others that you have no desire to read. Book you read and then absolutely hated or maybe just felt okay about it.
If you love having books on display, then keep doing that. I have a bookshelf in my dining room that serves as a great conversation piece when I have guests. On the other hand, if you aren’t going to read it, lend it, or ever open it again, do you need to own it?
Reading Goal #8: Declutter Your To-Read List
If you don’t need to (or won’t) declutter your books, another great reading goal for adults is to declutter your to-read list. Whenever I hear of an interesting book, I add it to my to-read shelf in Goodreads. Even though I read well over a hundred books a year, my to-read list always manages to grow each year.
This year, set a goal to pare down your TBR. Tastes change and a book that sounded intriguing five years ago might not catch your interest anymore. By freeing the clutter from your TBR, the next time you need something to read, you won’t have to weed through a sea of weak candidates but will have a superb selection of options.
What do you think? What reading goals for adults are you setting this year?
I just recently decluttered my TBR. Apart from completing various reading challenges I’ve got two seemingly contradictory challenges. One is to read internationally. I’ve got a long term goal of reading at least one book set in every country of the world, preferably by an author from that country. I’ll aim for ten new countries next year. The other is to read locally. I’m from New Zealand and read shamefully few books set her and/or by New Zealand authors. Again I’ll aim for ten.
I love it. They aren’t contradictory at all, just opposite ends of the same spectrum!
Rachel @ Never Enough Novels says
I picked up a wide variety of great books at book sales this past year, so I’m definitely planning to focus on my own shelf in 2020. My TBR pile is basically all the books I haven’t officially alphabetized yet, so I’ve got lots to choose from!
Erika Brady says
I’m glad that you mention that the most basic challenge is to read a certain number of novels per year and to keep track of them. It would probably help to create your list on your phone or on another online source. This way, you can always have access to your list to remind yourself how many you want to read and even what you want to read.
My goals this year include reading through THIS challenge. Thank you for writing a compelling reading challenge with multiple genres, accountability, and flexibility. And thank you for your suggestions for each topic. That helps immensely. I finished 48 books last year, even with a pretty big reading funk in July and August. I didn’t hit all the topics in your 2020 challenge, but I read more than I thought I would! I was pretty good at tracking my finishes last year so I want to keep that up. I am also challenging myself to read aloud to my kids as close to every week day as I can. I know we are only days into the new year, but, so far, so good!
I’m so glad you are enjoying the Reading Challenge! I’ve always meant for it to be more aspirational in nature, and it looks like you are treating it as such. I think reading aloud to your kids is a great idea. I just started reading aloud a chapter from a middle-grade book to my kids each night, and it has been SO much fun.
I have always been wanted to be a good reader, but whenever i thought to pick a book and read, it gives me strange feelings, and then start thinking with my self, why would I go for this book, i think this book would be very much better than this, this is the biggest pro that I have in reading.
I think sometimes you just have to pick a book and go with it. Just as in life, it might not be the absolute best option out there, but reading a book is better than not reading anything because of decision paralysis. My advice: try not to overthink it. which can be so hard at times!