I’ve registered for the Goodreads challenge for a fifth year and, although my totals have increased year-on-year, I’m sticking to a goal of 100 books. Even though it’s hardly a challenge to curl up with a novel most evenings, in a business that is mostly about failing, why not give myself a target I know I can beat? Besides, this isn’t a marathon. Reading is more about the experience than a numbers game. That’s why I’m setting myself some specific targets in relation to quality and diversity, building on my analysis of 150 books read in 2017.
At least 25% of my reads to be by BME authors. Tending to enjoy reading about diverse characters and situations, I haven’t explicitly monitored this recently. Given that the publishing industry is predominantly white, perhaps it’s time to make this a specific target.
At least 50% of my reads to be by female authors. Similarly, I’d always assumed I read more women than men, but it was a close call with last year’s favourites. Unless I come across a glut of books by women called Lionel, it shouldn’t be too difficult to monitor this.
Around 20% to be books in translation. I know that “around” is too fuzzy for a proper target, but having managed only 13% last year, I want to give myself a bit of leeway without needing to get out the calculator every time I read another book.
I’m not setting myself any targets for non-fiction. I expect I’ll read some – in fact, I already have – but it’s the novel I love.
Identify 10 to 12 favourite books of the year and analyse what makes them work. I’ve taken an ad hoc approach to reviewing books that can teach me something as a writer in more detail and want to sharpen that this year. I’m not entirely convinced a technique that works for one author will be effective for another, but it’s worth a try.
To monitor these percentages on a monthly basis. I’ve tended to wait until the end of the year (or, as last year, after the first 100), but it makes sense to monitor more frequently to rectify any deviations from the desired path.
Do you have any specific reading goals for the coming year? Is there anything else I should do to ensure quality and diversity in my reading?