Reading Goals for 2024

Fun Ways to Whittle Your TBR Pile (Or Add to It)

It’s just gone the middle of January, which means that if you’re a perfectionist, like me, started a year-long project now will make your skin crawl.

But that’s actually a really good reason to start now. Projects and plans aren’t ruined if you don’t start on the first/Monday/8 a.m. precisely.

And by now, you’ve read through any Christmas gifts, the Christmas tree and decorations are put away, and you’re facing the rest of the year.

Here are some fun reading goals that you could adopt or adapt for the rest of the year, or for the first half, or for however long you’d like to stick with them:

Nothing But TBR Books.

This doesn’t mean you can’t add books to the pile, but you need to put new acquisitions to one side and only read from the TBR pile as it currently sits.

So, no reading of old favourites, no keeper shelf reading. Just new books in the TBR pile and that’s all.

This will force you to start books whose covers and/or blurbs just don’t appeal to you right now. As I’ve learned, the covers of books, and the descriptions, can often woefully under-represent just how good the book is.

And vice versa. But if you DNF a book, you’ll at least get it off the pile.

Nothing but Old Favourites.

This is a good challenge if you’re on a budget, or have no budget for new books. So: No new books at all, not even books borrowed from the library. Just books that are on your bookshelf, that you’ve read and adored in the past.

This is also a good challenge for when you’re burned out on reading. You get to wallow in comfort reads, with no pressure to open books that might or might not work out for you. Every book is a good read.

Start at the bottom of your eReader and move upward.

Most eReaders sort books by the most recently opened book. Which means books that you’ve acquired and haven’t got around to reading for one reason or another tend to drift down into the depths of your ereader, often never to be seen again.

So, scroll down to the bottom (or reverse the sort order, if your reader allows it). The trick here is to read the very last book listed. No quibbling, no “but that one looks better!”

As I’ve mentioned, you’ll come across a lot of surprises, doing this. Some good, some bad. Plus, removing all choice out of what you read also removes an amazing amount of pressure to find the perfect book for your mood.

Try it. You’ll be surprised. And you’ll get some good reads out of it, too.

Read in strict alpha order

This is a variation of the challenge, above. If your reader doesn’t sort by most recent, but does sort by alphabetical, head to the “Z”s, and start reading from there.

Read ALL the books in xxx series/by xxx author.

If you’re on a budget, you can pick a series or author you’ve already acquired. The really prolific authors are great for this.

I’ve made challenges for myself to read every book Anne McCaffery ever wrote (not just the Pern books). Ditto, Robert Heinlein. I had a Shakespeare month (I could only last a month), reading all his plays, with a good guidebook to one side.

A Non-Fiction challenge

Take a break from novels and read self-help, inspirational titles, books about your other favourite hobbies, and whatever interests you. Make the challenge at least a month, and check in with yourself at the end of the month. How did it go? Glad to get back to fiction?

Only short stories and anthologies

This can be tricky, because romance authors don’t put out a lot of short stories, as readers just don’t seem to like them. But if you like to read a different genre, such as science fiction or fantasy, or MST (Mystery, Suspense and Thrillers), short stories abound. They are often sold as standalones, and you can pick up anthologies with mutiple authors’ stories, or collections of a single author’s shorts.

Set yourself the challenge of only reading shorts for, say, three months. Keep notes, and record the stories you like (does that author have novels available?).

Short stories are great when you’re feeling a bit browned out with novels. You can get through a short story in one sitting, and get the pay-off of a full story in an hour or so, compared to slogging through a novel for days or weeks.

No Reading at All.

If you’re seriousy burned out on reading, then not reading is a natural response. I’m not proposing this challenge for when you are in need of a break.

This challenge is a short one — only a week or two — to show you the role that reading plays in your life. In particular, it will make you pay attention to the world around you a little more closely.

Keep a journal while you try this challenge. Record your thoughts and feelings about not reading as you move through your days.

Read the Great Classics

This is only for the super readers. Many years ago, Encyclopedia Britannica compiled an index of Great Books, that they considered held all the wisdom of human history. The list of books is here. And all the books listed can be picked up for free via Project Gutenberg.

This is a heavyweight challenge, that could last longer than a year. But if you’ve ever wanted to stretch your mind, this is one way to do it.

Empty your reader

If, like me, you keep all your books on your computer hard drive (in, perhaps, some type of management app such as Calibre), then what is on your reader are books that you intend to read. Someday.

Make your reading challenge simply to clear out your reader. Period. Read every book on it. You can combine this with starting at the bottom, or going strictly in alpha order, too.

Don’t add any more books to the ereader until you’ve read the last one on it.

Keep a reading diary for a year.

You can continue to read whatever you want, whenever you want, but you record what you read, and when, and your thoughts and feelings about the book.

You can add a layer of complexity to this, too: Whichever author you’re currently reading, reseach them: Find their website, list all their currently published books. And if you’re enjoying the read, sign up for their newsletter.

At the end of the year, you can review your diary, and enjoy visiting the books you loved.


There are all sorts of reading challenges you can make for yourself. These are just eleven challenges for which there are infinite variations.

Enjoy!

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