By Katie Ottaggio, CSP Engagement Operations Manager and Kristen Witucki, CSP Curriculum and Content Editor
Reading for pleasure is one of the most rewarding experiences you can possibly have. Your mind and heart expand as you learn about a new world, inhabit someone else's experiences or just find solace or entertainment. There's also nothing like reading something that is not required. Kristen remembers early in her freshman year, even though she was reading a lot of great literature then, how freeing it felt to read something that was not written down on a syllabus.
Unfortunately, reading for pleasure can be difficult to schedule. College obligations like research projects and exams, life obligations like family and work, getting distracted by the news or social media, and exhaustion from all of this can interfere with our ability to read for pleasure. One way to alleviate this struggle is to set reading goals. Below we have brainstormed about the types of goals you can set when it comes to reading.
We'll Start With The Personal
Katie's goal is to read at least forty books between October 2020 and October 2021. She works fulltime and is the mother of two children who are currently in a hybrid learning situation, so carving out time to read is a very important part of her self-care. It's a way to forget about the stresses of the world and escape. Her reading interests include pretty much everything from historical fiction to memoirs, from true crime to romance, and everything in between. She's recently been interested in books set in Russia (check out some of her recommendations here.) To date, she has already read about a quarter of the way to her goal, so she's on track to finish ahead of schedule! If she does, she might decide to expand her number of books or to tackle one of the other goals we've suggested below.
Kristen's goal is to read something new again! It's a modest goal but given that her reading life was derailed by the pandemic, she feels it's a good place to start. Fortunately, Learning Ally, Audible, and Bookshare provide her with more than enough contemporary and literary fiction.
Other Goals to Encourage Reading
If number of books sounds too cut and dry or you want to take on a goal that is not constricted by time, there are several other types of reading goals you can set.
Increase your reading time - Maybe you'd like to just read more in general. Consider creating a goal around the number of pages you want to read or by spending a pre-determined amount of time each day, week, or month on reading.
Reading outside your comfort zone - Many of us have book types that we return to time and time again. But, think of the possibilities if you expand your horizons? If you only read fiction, try to read at least one nonfiction or poetry book. Or, try books from several genres such as autobiographical or memoir, biographical or historical, scientific, instructional, or many other options. Not only will you expand your knowledge, but you'll open up new worlds for yourself. The possibilities are almost endless.
Spinoffs From the Genres Goal
Some reading goals use different parameters to help people branch out and try something new. Here are a few that could be fun and interesting:
- Alphabet Goal - A book with a title or author from each letter of the alphabet
- Time Period or Decades Goal - An eighteenth century classic, a book set in the future, a book that came out the year you were born, a book from each decade of a century
- Locations Goal - A book set in a place you'd like to visit, a book set in your home state, a book set in each country or state from a designated area
- Push Your Limits Goal - A book that intimidates you, a book with more than 500 pages, a book about a difficult topic
Joining a Community
Reading does not need to be a solitary activity. There are tons of book clubs, many of which have moved to a virtual format. Find one you might like to try and learn more about what the specific club has to offer. When it's safe to gather in groups again, local clubs can often be a great option, as they offer you a chance to connect with fellow readers and thinking in your community by meeting at a library, book store, or a member's home. Having a reading community helps you to create a reading deadline and to connect with others who enjoy books as much as you do.
Social media is also a great place to find inspiration for your reading goals. Start following book and reading groups. The members of these groups often post their goals, which can be an encouragement to you. They are also great places to find book recommendations. If you need a specific type of book to meet your goal, post in the group and you'll get multiple recommendations in no time.
Make Your Goals Realistic and Obtainable
Regardless of the goal you set, think it through before you commit. If you give yourself a goal that is too easy, you may not feel much motivation or as accomplished as you'd like to feel when you do complete it. That being said, you also want to make sure your goals are obtainable. You may be excited and motivated to reach a lofty goal, but if your goal isn't realistic then consider how you'll feel if and when you don't reach it. Will it weigh on you? Will you put too much pressure on yourself? Ultimately, go with a goal that feels "right".
For reading recommendations from the CSP team, Learning Ally staff, and CSP Mentors, check out the links below.
Summer Reading Recommendations Part 1: College Success Program Staff
Summer Reading Recommendations Part 2: College Success Program Mentors
Summer Reading Recommendations Part 3: Learning Ally Staff
Summer Reading Recommendations Part 4: More Learning Ally Staff
A Brief List of Winter Reading Recommendations
No matter what kind of goals you set, or don't, we hope that 2021 is a year filled with books! Good luck!