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Progress: 2/3 yearly book goals attained! …So what?

August 6, 2014

Every year I set book goals for myself, and every year I stress myself out to reach them, and then feel terrible both while achieving them and not achieving them–doesn’t matter whether I’m ahead or behind–and after the fact if I don’t achieve them.  Like many women, like many mothers, like many parents, like many people, I feel a need to always be doing something productive.  Then I berate myself if I’m not productive enough, and eventually that leaves me curled up in as fetal a position as you can get while playing hours of Candy Crush instead of dealing with real life.

And then I wonder why my generation’s children are so anxiety-ridden.

I often think that this is a result of starting out as a generation of kids who had access to some things, and then suddenly had access to everything.  It triggered something in us, made us more sure than our parents and our parents’ parents that we would die without enough accomplishment.  People joke about spending hours scrolling for the “right” thing on Netflix, until it’s so late they no longer have time to watch anything, except I don’t think they’re really joking.  I think we feel desperate with our media, and it makes us feel desperate in our lives.

So this will be the last year I set crazy goals for myself.

Of the goals I have, I like the two that aren’t “[a really high number of] books to read over the course of the year.”  I like that they are more specific: I challenge myself to read twenty new books, and fifty books out of my ridiculous hoard that I haven’t read yet–which, admittedly, includes books that I have picked up at a trade-in that I haven’t read in five years or more.  So if I pick up a beloved Crusie or L’Engle novel for some comfort/nostalgia reading, that doesn’t count toward anything but the massively-large-number goal.  If I find a L’Engle that I don’t own at the Book Barn and am rereading it for the first time in ten years, it counts toward the fifty.

[There are, of course, no Crusies I don’t own, except alternate-cover versions.  Unless some of them were revised a bit during reissue and I have no idea, but even then I have some original/reissue doubles.


Before you think I’m about to pull the “I liked this before it was cool/in Guardians of the Galaxy” bs, I should point out that the version I was most familiar with for years was by Bratmobile, not The Runaways, so I wasn’t getting cool points anyway.  Also, this is a modified Crusie/Mayer logo, in case you were trying to figure out where the heck I was going with this.]

And of course then there’s BEA, where I come home with like fifty new books, most of which won’t even be published for a couple to several months.  Between that and my local library, I’ve got those twenty new books covered.  I even give myself two months at the end of the previous year, because libraries have waiting lists.  I usually read about 5-10 of those BEA books as soon as I get home, because they’re by my favorite authors, and I really want to read them before they come out because I want to feel special or whatever.  So that’s half that goal already reached in the month of June alone.  And those count toward the fifty “shelf books.”

All my books are on shelves, except the boxed-up overflow unreads in the attic, but to me “shelf books” are the unreads, which are separated onto their own bookcase.  I thought I had a “before BEA” picture to show you, but I don’t, so here’s the after:


Remember, this doesn’t include the ones boxed upstairs. (Weird box on top left is full of cat things, like cat toothpaste and cat brushes and cat toys.)

Some are college books I didn’t quite finish, or other books from series that I started but don’t care enough to have read yet. Some are series that I really like, but hell if those books aren’t huge so I haven’t gotten to them yet because of the stress of the numbers game I play with myself every year.  (“A book that big?!  I’ll never get to my goals if I read that NOW!”) One or two are my husband’s that I want to read but not enough to have read them yet.  Two were recommended by my grandmother, so I keep putting them off because I’m pretty sure I’ll feel like I lost her all over again once I finish them.  Most are fiction, but that’s because I mostly read fiction.  There’s more non-fiction boxed up in the attic because my non-fiction to fiction reading ratio is probably something like 1:50.  Here’s the thing: the combined cost of these books was about…maybe $30?  Tops?  Which is how I was justifying obtaining all these books to myself for a really long time.  I only see one book there that I paid full price for, except that it came as a buy-two-get-one, so even that’s not completely accurate.  Fully half are from BEA–the top pile and the bottom piles are from 2014, with a lot of the ones in between from 2013.  Some are library discards, given away for free or purchased at pennies on the dollar.  Some are from trade-ins, as most places will give you about a 4:1 trade-in rate.  Most of the ones you don’t see here are from hardcore library sales, $1/bag or, once or twice, $5/bag (for hardbacks).

I once got 112 books for $7.   Around the third time I did this, I realized how stupid it was.  Who has the space?  And look, that first bag-of-books sale was about ten years ago, and I still haven’t read almost all of them.  That’s why I only do trade-ins now.  4:1, and never on a book I haven’t read before, unless the library can’t get it for me in time for book club.

Even with my fifty book goal, I’m barely chipping away at this pile, let alone however many boxes are in the attic.  It helps that if I go to BEA next year, it will probably be my last year because it’s moving locations and I don’t care enough to go to Chicago or wherever.  And next year I’ll be pickier about what I keep, because I was pickier this year and that can only get better because I do tend toward that, rather than always getting worse.  I mean, I did get MORE books this year than last, I think, but I also donated most of them to local libraries.

If this is a boring or confusing post, it’s because it’s like reading someone’s to-do list, then listening to them justify why they haven’t done anything on it.  And that really is boring and/or confusing, and I’m sick of doing it.  I’m boring myself with these goal posts.  (Heh, “goal posts.”)  Moving on.


So.  I’ve finished the twenty new book goal, and I finished the fifty-off-the-shelf goal.  Here’s how they played out:



1) Hollow City – Ransom Riggs (Miss Peregrine #2)

2) The Impossible Knife of Memory – Laurie Halse Anderson

3) The Dresden Files: Ghoul Goblin – Jim Butcher

4) Snowblind – Christopher Golden

5) Cress – Marissa Meyer

6) Burn – Julianna Baggott

7) Dreams of the Golden Age – Carrie Vaughn

8) Three Weeks with Lady X – Eloisa James

9) Panic – Lauren Oliver

10) Frog Music – Emma Donoague

11) The Crane Wife – Patrick Ness

12) The Geography of You and Me – Jennifer E. Smith

13) Dreams of Gods & Monsters – Laini Taylor

14) Landline – Rainbow Rowell

15) Party Games – RL Stine

16) Afterworlds – Scott Westerfeld

17) Tell Me Again How A Crush Should Feel – Sara Farizan

18) Lock In – John Scalzi

19) Sisters – Raina Telgemeier

20) I Am Rosa Parks – Brad Meltzer

[I stopped counting at 20, but I’m 9 past this so far, which you can see on my Goodreads account.]


Shelf (aka unread purchases/acquisitions)

1) Little Miss Contrary

2) Eighth Grade Bites

3) We the Living

4) Rat Girl

5) Bridge to Terabithia

6) The Phantom Tollbooth

7) Flora & Ulysses

8) Two Boys Kissing

9) Camp Foxrtrot

10) Lilith’s Brood (three books in one)

11) Foxtrot Beyond a Doubt

12) Sherlock Holmes v 2

13) Come Along with Me

14) Chinese Cinderella

15) On the Night of the Seventh Moon

16) Guards! Guards!

17) Wildly Foxtrot

18) Scruples 2

19) Lady Oracle

20) Guarded (Buffy 9.3)

21) Weaveworld

22) Watership Down

23) Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

24) Landline

25) Party Games

26) Afterworlds

27) Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel

28) Alias V1

29) Alias V2

30) Alias V3

31) Lock In

32) Sisters

33) I Am Rosa Parks

34) Black Ice

35) My Real Children

36) The Stranger

37) The Question: Riddles

38) Acts of Love

39) Messenger of Fear

40) Never Let Me Go

41) High Fidelity

42) The Good Girl

43) Dangerous Girls

44) Wayne of Gotham

45) Sex Criminals #1

46) Thief of Thieves #1

47) Alex + Ada #1

48) Pretty Deadly #1

49) Rat Queens #1

50) Lazarus #1

(+4 more so far)

How am I feeling about this?  Okay.  Not great.  Why?  Because Goodreads tells me I’m only at 129 of my stupid goal of 300 books, which is–it reminds me–49 books “behind schedule.”


Next year?  My Goodreads goal is going to be 50 books.  Those 50 shelf books will make up a chunk of that, and the new ones will make up most of the rest, and there will be a handful of other library reads and loaners from friends.  That’s it.  Sure, I’ll probably end up reading between 200 and 300 on my own, but I will not look at that stupid “behind schedule” message ever again and get stressed out.


Not that I blame Goodreads.  This is all me.

[This is also why I didn’t have a “My List” on Netflix for a long time.  Maybe I should get rid of that, too.]


2 Comments leave one →
  1. Jillian permalink
    August 7, 2014 9:41 am

    Ugh. How can you have a “schedule” of when to read books. I would be super annoyed at getting a message like that. I go through months where I read 1 or 2 books and months where I read 20.

    I like the idea of reading 20 new books but I generally get books from the library and I have to wait forever for new books so that wouldn’t work out.

    • bookslide permalink*
      August 7, 2014 12:45 pm

      Jillz! I miss you! ❤

      What it's actually doing is tracking the number of books you've read and putting it up against the amount of time you've got left. So say you set your goal as 365 books in a year. If you don't finish a book on day one, it'll say you're a book behind schedule.

      I have a schedule anyway, though–it's called being in five book clubs. What was I thinking?? The online one is on Facebook; you should join.

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