I heard a phrase on last week’s episode of What Should I Read Next that’s stuck with me: “Reading is not a competitive sport.” And sometimes, I agree with that statement. Making it competitive can be fun when you’re doing well in the competition, but it isn’t as fun when you’re losing.
I’m aiming to read 50 books this year. But those 50 books could include novellas that are 100 pages or tomes that are over 1,000. Still, each are 1/50th of my yearly goal. But clearly, no two books are created of equal lengths. Having this black and white goal of 50 books has caused me to pause when I have the urge to pick up heftier books. Why read something that’s 800 pages when it gives me the same credit as something with 200 pages?
You could liken it to the electoral college vs the popular vote. Maybe the popular vote winner (the longer book) is the choice that has more substance and oomph! behind it, but the electoral college vote winner focused on strategic areas (being a shorter and more compact book) and ends up winning the whole shebang. And we all know what happens then – all of a sudden we’re losing healthcare, human rights, and our democracy. Or, maybe it’s more like I’m missing out on some great literature that will take me longer than a week to read and put me behind with my yearly goal, which is disappointing.
Because of this, I’ve decided to alter my yearly reading goal. Don’t worry – we’re allowed to do that. We can change what we’re aiming for without the book police showing up at our doors.
Somewhere I read that an average book is 300 pages long. Where did I read that? I have no idea, I’m probably just making it up. But if the average book is 300 pages, let’s say that I want to read a book a week. Over the course of a year this will equal 15,600 pages. So that’s my new goal! I’ll still have that 50 book goal going in the background, but I won’t be as focused on it.
Here’s how I’m keeping track of this:
In my bullet journal, I’m writing the total number of pages of each book that’s on my “Books Read” list (see Picture 1). On Sunday night, I’ll look at any books finished the previous week and add those page counts to the week before. Example: Let’s say that at the end of last week, I had a total of 500 pages read. And this week I finished a 200 page book. I’ll add those two together, and now I’ve read 700 pages this year. I’ll write that number down in my tracker and determine how far off target I’ve strayed (see Picture 2 for my tracker).
A few notes about this system:
I’m only adding in the books that I’ve finished from the week before. If I’m halfway through a book, I won’t actually add that to the tally until the Sunday of the week that I completely finish. Otherwise, I think it will be too confusing for me to remember how many pages got counted each week.
Yes, I’m counting audiobooks as pages read. I’m just looking at the book’s GoodReads page and writing down the number of pages listed.
After I add a book’s page count to the page tracker, I put a checkmark beside the
number of pages on my “books read” list so that I know I’ve already counted those pages.
I wait until I finish a book to even write down its total number of pages. Then, when I’m tallying up my total, I only have to look for the books that have page numbers without checkmarks. I know that I finished those this week and that I haven’t already added them to my Page Tracker.
Does this qualify as taking “Reading Is Not a Competitive Sport” to heart? Am I still making it competitive? Maybe – but this allows me the flexibility to choose whatever I want to read without fear of repercussions down the line. And Pillars of the Earth, Barkskins, and Middlemarch? Here I come!!