reading goals

Why I Don’t Do Monthly TBRs // 2021 Reading Goals

While perusing other book blogs for inspiration, I noticed a lot of bloggers talk about their plans for what they’re going to read each month. They pick a handful of books from their to-be-read pile and vow to read them for the upcoming month. It makes for great content, especially because they can promote new books, but it’s something I’ve never been able to wrap my head around because I’m a ~*Mood Reader*~.

Being a mood reader means I pick my next book to read based on the mood I’m currently in. So even though I typically read a lot of mysteries and thrillers, sometimes after putting one down I need a break and want something less intense. Sometimes when reading historical fiction, I get tired of the same WW2 trope with multiple narratives in different times where the stories all interlace at the end (although that’s more of an issue with the current trend of historical fiction, and another story for another day). Other days I will gladly eat that trope up! Sometimes I’ll be in the mood for a slow burn, other times I need it fast-paced or I’ll be too bored to stay interested. I want to read spooky books in April or May, not necessarily just in October when they’re deemed more fitting for the genre. The only books I “force” myself to read each month are my Book of the Month picks, and I’d be lying if I said there aren’t still some on my shelf from prior months that I still haven’t touched.

While I’ll never make fancy tbr lists, being a mood reader has its advantages. I don’t ever feel forced to read something. When I finish a book, I’ll go through my tbr list on Goodreads and find something that sounds interesting. Yes, there are plenty of options (471 to be exact) which can be overwhelming, but I never feel pressured to pick something from the list. The best part is that if I’m not feeling it, which happens regularly for me, I just put it back on the shelf and pick again!

Downsides are a bit bigger: I’ve never enjoyed book clubs, because I don’t always want to read the chosen book (I also prefer reading at my own pace – let’s not talk about the one time I joined an in-person book club and read the entire book in one night when we were only assigned the first three chapters); I waste a lot of time finding the “right book” to get settled into, leaving tons at 1% read; sometimes I’ll have bad reading weeks or even months where I feel in a funk because nothing I pick is keeping me interested enough, so I don’t finish many books.

But being a mood reader doesn’t mean I can’t create reading goals for myself. It just means I might have to work harder to achieve them, which is okay! For me, making reading goals doesn’t take away the fun of reading, doesn’t make it less of a hobby. I try to make my reading goals attainable so I don’t feel guilty for not reaching them, but let me fill you in on a little secret: sometimes I just change my goals if I feel like I’m not going to reach them. Here are a few reading goals I decided to set for myself this year:

  1. Read 100 books
    Every year I set my goal to 100 books, and most years I make it, but some I don’t. I definitely didn’t last year, which I chalked up to the inevitable slump that everyone fell into last year. I didn’t reach it in 2019 either, but I patted myself on the back for still reading 60+ books while spending most of that year planning my wedding. Sometimes life gets in the way of reaching my reading goal, and that’s okay! Last year and the year prior I just lowered my goal with zero shame. Currently I’m four books behind schedule to meet my goal of 100 this year, but I’m not too worried. It’s still plenty early enough in the year to catch back up.
  2. Read more books by and about POC
    Last year I noticed how many of the books I read are written by white authors, specifically men, and they almost always are centered around an all-white cast of characters. I understand white authors’ hesitancy to write BIPOC into their stories because they’re afraid of any backlash with inaccuracy, but it’s also not impossible or difficult to add BIPOC characters at all. Currently I’m on my third of eight total read books that are by BIPOC authors with a focus on BIPOC characters.
  3. Read more books by LGBT authors with those themes
    Mirroring what I said about my second goal, I mainly want to focus on reading more diverse stories with diverse characters. I love the amount of LGBT representation in books, especially over the last few years, and I think they’re important stories that need to be shared.
  4. Read more of my physical books
    This is always a challenge for me, especially because as a mood reader I’ll sometimes buy a bunch of books that sound interesting, and then once they arrive I’m no longer in the mood to read them. I’ve accepted that my tbr physical pile will never be completely at zero, and I know I’m doing well compared to other bibliophiles out there (I only have about 10% of my collection left to read!), but I’d still like to lower this number substantially.
  5. Read more ARCS // raise my rating score on NetGalley
    I created a NetGalley account in 2015 and my feedback ratio is at a whopping 32%. I’m not even sure if I’d still enjoy most of the books that were approved so long ago, but I do feel an obligation to read and review them.

I think these are all attainable reading goals for this year, and I realize that they might bring some challenge with them as most of them are not intermixed. The books I received through NetGalley are mostly by white authors and do not touch on LGBT or POC themes, and the same goes for most of my physical tbr books. Obviously the only solution here is to start buying more books with those themes 😉

3 thoughts on “Why I Don’t Do Monthly TBRs // 2021 Reading Goals

  1. I’ve tried doing monthly TBRs and I almost always fail. What I think sounds good in the moment ends up not being what I want to read. I usually make one in October and I’m good about sticking to that one, because I like to read spooky/Halloween vibe books for that month. But any other month, nope. I fail almost every single time haha. It’s nice not feeling forced to read anything. I usually get into BIG reading slumps if I am feeling forced to read something.

    Good luck with your reading goals! 🙂 I just found out today that Netgalley has an option where you don’t have to give feedback and it has a few options to pick from for why you couldn’t read it and lets you explain. I found that helpful when one of the books I was reading I just wasn’t into it and didn’t want to continue with it. I can see why you would feel obligated to read and review them though. Maybe you’ll end up liking most of them!


    1. I can’t even commit to spooky books during October haha! I want to every year, but I’m always in the mood for other books or way too busy to read fitting books for the month. Then I’m sad as soon as the month is over because I read exactly zero spooky ones.

      Thank you! That’s super helpful, because I do feel like I’ve outgrown a lot of them. Plus I always check the Goodreads average rating, and a few are low enough that they just don’t pique my interest anymore. I’ll have to check that feature out!


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