Why I Cut My Goodreads Challenge In Half // 2021 is a new year of reading differently

POV: In a sea of internet people who read 100s of books per year, you have finally stumbled upon me, who recently forced myself to read 50 books over the past two years.  

Don’t get me wrong, 50 books in one year is still a lot! I’m giving myself a pat on the back as we speak. But as I was asked to input a new Goodreads challenge for 2021, I decided to lower my standards by a lot, and I went for it. 

I only signed up to read 25 books this year. 


Accidental Peer Pressure

When I first started blogging, one of the most surprising things I found was that some people here (and actually, quite a lot of people in the community) read more than 10 YA books per year. 

I was shocked, for some reason. There I was, fresh out of high school and believing that I read “a lot” of books, but in reality, I hadn’t even fathomed the massive levels this community was at to read 75-150 books per year. Compared to my in-real-life peers, I was an avid reader, but here, I felt very behind. 

an old joke but it still applies :’)

In the first few months of my Starry Sky Books Goodreads account, I managed to read almost 20 books, and I ended 2018 with 28 books on my challenge. That was a miracle for me, but it also made me feel great. I really could do anything if I put my mind to it. 

No one was telling me I needed to read more, but I could feel it in my bones. Every day, it seemed like new books were popping up on my radar, and if I didn’t read them soon, I would start to get even farther “behind” in book blogger culture. 

But now that I’ve been gone from the internet for months… I can tell you that “being behind” doesn’t really matter to me anymore. *shrugs* At least, it wasn’t the amount of books that caused an issue. 

I’ve recently discovered that some of my blogging burn out comes from the pressure I put on myself to read new books all of the time. And for what? I’m missing out on some great older books by doing that!

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Self-Motivation and Goals 

In theory, telling myself that I would like to reach the goal of 25 books this year should help my relationship with books a bit. I didn’t quit the challenge all together, though, because I knew I would definitely be able to reach 25.

According to the past two years of Goodreads challenges, around 20 of the books I completed each year were books I read for university classes… meaning that only about 30 of the other completed books were for leisure. 

me drowning in school books

With that in mind, 25 books in 2021 should be a breeze for me. While I love doing easy things, it’s also more important for me to set goals which are well within my reach. As I’ve noticed in my past, setting realistic goals really helps with my motivation! So far, I’m already 2 books ahead of scheduled, and that makes me feel great! It’s all about feeling accomplished, people. 😌

Though I won’t ever be taking that amount of English Literature classes again (I over-worked myself by almost completing my university major too early haha), I’m sure I will still have to read a few books in some classes this year. 

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Over-Achievement? 

Look, the real reason why I made the number so low by my own standards is because I want to feel like I will be achieving the goal early. And let’s face it – I need all the motivation I can get.

Lately I’ve been feeling like I tend to force myself to do things I used to find fun, like blogging and posting on bookstagram. These things are supposed to be fun, so why am I so hesitant to do them? 

me after a long day of university

I think it all comes down to how I see things. If I give myself little goals (such as 25 books per year instead of 50), it will help me feel like I’m doing a great job. Because in reality, reading any amount of books is already great. And I just have to let myself see that. 


In the end, I’ll probably end up reading the same amount of books as last year. But at least I’ll feel more accomplished while doing it. 

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netflix and books-33

Well, I hope this post made some sense to you. 😅 Do you agree with any of my points? Did you set a Goodreads challenge this year? How many books did you used to read every year before you joined the community?

(Also… Hello! What have you been up to lately? Feel free to send me your recent posts so I can catch up with you!) 

Chat with me about it!


You can also be my friend on social media!

Happy reading! Have a lovely day! Please stay safe!

Starry Sky Books-13

52 thoughts on “Why I Cut My Goodreads Challenge In Half // 2021 is a new year of reading differently

  1. I love this post. We put so much pressure on ourselves to meet the nonexistent standard for whatever social media blackhole we get sucked into.. That it takes away from the pleasure of the actual experience. It sets a good example to enjoy the quality of reading instead of meeting quantity goals.
    Sorry not really awake. Hope that makes sense.

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  2. I set the Goodreads Challenge at a number I know I can personally achieve pretty easily. Once I pass the number, I just use the Challenge to collect the stats. It’s much low pressure that way!

    And, yes, people do seem to read a lot! But I think we have to remember that people have different lives. It’s a lot easier to read 100 books a year if you aren’t working full-time, for instance, or aren’t going to school, or don’t have a baby, or whatever. Also, different books will take up different amounts of time. My Goodreads Challenge numbers look incredibly high, but I count picture books and graphic novels in there, and they take less time to read than a YA novel, for instance.

    I also some people skim in order to read large numbers of books. And the question is, is that the kind of reading experience that we want? It might be preferable to read more slowly, but enjoy the book without feeling so much pressure to finish it and get on to the next one.

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  3. I agree with you so much! Last year I set my Goodreads goal to 1 so that I could keep track of how many books I read without feeling pressured to hit a certain goal. My priority with my reading isn’t how many books I can read in a year, but reading books that I’m interested in and will actually enjoy. I’ve done the same thing this year and even though I’m reading less than I used to, I don’t feel as pressured to anymore 🙂

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  4. Hi Xandra, I think you have some good points here. It is definitely important to feel accomplished and good about what you are doing! Doing less doesn’t diminish what you’ve achieved and at the end of the day all these challenges are meant to be fun so if reducing your goal makes you enjoy the challenge more then I think it’s great that you are able to make that decision.

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  5. Ahhh Xandra, so so so glad to see you back!!! And I LOVE this post so much. And am lowkey highkey cheering you on hahah. I only just this year actually set my goal to 50 books (I’ve reached it a few times before but only because I keep it low) but I don’t like to set a) unrealistic goals and b) put pressure on myself when its really just a number. Quality over quantity in this household. Even though recently I’ve been reading A LOT but they haven’t been great ahaha. Anyways, I think having a small goal is great because you can always just read more, as you mentioned hehe. Loved reading this post so much Xandra. Love you tons xoxoxoxo

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  6. This is such a great post! I’m proud of you for lowering your goal. It’s so easy to compare yourself to other readers instead of just focusing on what’s good for you. Aiming for something that seems achievable is so much more motivating!

    Pressure to “keep up” with everyone else is something I’m pretty sure we all experience at some point. I’m totally with you on keeping up with new releases – I try to do it but sometimes it’s just a bit much, and I want to settle back, find older books and just read whatever I feel like.

    I remember being so amazed when I first found the bookish community at the amount people can actually read. It was really inspiring to start with. I’d begun the year with a goal of reading 12 books, and I ended up getting through 46! But after that initial success I definitely started to feel the pressure to hit the really high numbers everyone else seemed to manage. I’ve settled on 52 for the past couple years, since I can generally manage to read one thing a week (be it a novella, comic, graphic novel, or book). I did get tempted to raise it and push myself this year, but I realised that I would only be competing with myself. It’s okay to just stay where you’re comfortable – there’s no need to be “more more more” all the time! (It took me a long time to understand that.) Anyway, super good luck with your goal!! I hope you find lots of books you enjoy ❤️

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  7. i totally relate with the over-achievement thing. i think in my mind it’s more successful if i put a lower goal than what i think i can achieve, so i won’t have to work as hard to achieve it. it’s definitely NOT what a goal setting is supposed to mean though hahah i think i have a good balance this year, where i tried choosing a number that was still challenging but not entirely unimaginable. but i do agree with you that reading *any* amount of books is great!

    not to go on a tangent here, but i recently saw a tweet about how the books that are popular on tiktok are actually super well-known backlist titles that every book tuber under the sun was reading in 2014. it made me feel frustrated when i saw that because why does it matter when the book was released? like, as long as teenagers who are addicted to their phones are interested in picking up a book, does it really matter that it is the fault in our stars of all things? lol. i am happy they are choosing to read and i think that’s what we should be focusing on!

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  8. I know what you mean, you always feel pressured. I have a lot more time so I usually set my goodreads challenge to around 100 but I always try to surpass that! This year I am being more nicer to myself. I’ve set it for 100 but if I don’t surpass that I don’t care. I’m also trying to read more books that I actually want to read rather than lots of new ones and ones that seem very popular.

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  9. I really liked reading your reflections on your reading habits and the pressure a certain number of books can bring! It’s always most important to set a goal that feels attainable and stressfree ❤ I always keep my Goodreads Goal below what I think I can read, so I’m not stressed should my reading slow down! It’s a good way to allow for times when reading isn’t the biggest priority and keeps me excited to read without it feeling like a chore!

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  10. I’m not a fast reader so yes, I don’t get through zillions of books either. I thinks sites like Goodreads and even Storygraph have a lot to answer for! They say it’s to keep track of our reading but we bibliophiles managed decades of reading without ever keeping track of anything! It’s all just meaningless numbers unless you really enjoy and feel life expanded by reading so thank you for your honesty.

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  11. So great to see your perspective! It is really quite easy to feel overwhelmed by the pressure of all those “Read one book per day” or “15 books monthly book haul”, specially when you have plenty of other things to do. One other thing that I recently discovered is that the pressure from those challenges (or from comparison) makes me not want to read big books I otherwise would be really excited about, only to keep up with the challenge. That said, I am really trying not to think very much about the challenge and concentrate in the books I couldn’t miss.

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  12. I totally agree, and I think anyone who has been part of the book community in any part of the internet has felt that pressure. I can relate to lowering your goodreads challenge, a few years ago (after a year of feeling in kind of a reading slump) I just set it to 1 book and it was exactly what I needed. I felt way freer to read whatever and it definitely helped! Nowadays I just set it to something attainable for me, and I’ll raise it if need be!

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