The Big Mid-Year Reading Check-In

Goals, stats, and best books, oh my!

Photo by Lê Tân on Unsplash

Holy July, Batman! The first half of the year has somehow come and gone. That means it’s about that time that lists of the best books for the first half of the year hit the interwebs.

Here at Your Book Friend, I’m doing things a little bit differently (what else is new?). Rather than check-in with the best books from the first half of the year, I’m checking in with reading goals and stats to see how I’m doing compared with where I hoped I’d be.

Will I also mention my favorite reads of the year so far? If I may use my favorite sassy gif…

Gif sourced from Giphy.com

The Goal: Goodreads Reading Challenge

Last year, I clocked in right around 30 books for the year. So, I set my initial Goodreads 2021 reading goal at 30 once more.

Then I hit 30 books going into June and decided to raise it to 50.

My reading pace is very stop and go. Sometimes I’ll read a book a week, while other times I hear the siren song of my video game console (or the Sims) and suddenly the pace slows dramatically. This makes setting a numbers goal for the year pretty challenging, but 50 feels right for now.

According to Goodreads, I’m 18 books ahead of schedule at this point, so I feel confident I’ll hit that 50 book goal this year. Of the 42 books I’ve read thus far, here are a few of my favorites:

While I don’t think the numbers game is the most important goal reading-wise, it is fun for me to watch the numbers stack up throughout the year.


The Goal: Book Riot’s Read Harder Challenge

Each year, Book Riot releases a set of challenge tasks for their Read Harder challenge. The list items vary year by year, but the goal is to expand your reading horizons by reading more diversely in terms of genre, character and author identity, and more.

Each year, I download this list with glee and then proceed to only tick off the items that are of interest to me. I’ve yet to complete a full Read Harder task list, and I’m not sure I’ll ever will.

But that isn’t the point, not for me. Completing things is nice, but I’ll count it a win if I manage to read a handful of books each year that I wouldn’t have picked up if not for the challenge.

So far this year, I’ve checked off 8 of the 24 total tasks, including…

  • Read a book with a beloved pet where the pet doesn’t die (Love Your Life by Sophie Kinsella)
  • Read a book of nature poems (Shaler’s Fish by Helen Macdonald)
  • Read a book set in the midwest, to which I added “not Ohio” because I read books set in my home state all the time (The Chicken Sisters by KJ Dell’Antonia)

There are a few on the list that I know I’m not going to be able to force myself to do because they’re just a bit too far outside my interest areas. But I do have plans to check off at least a few more of the challenge to keep expanding my reading horizons for the year.


The Stats

New this year, I’m tracking my reading using this fancy Reading Log spreadsheet designed by Book Riot’s Tirzah Price.

I’ve got moderate Excel skills but could never craft such a delight as this document, which generates charts breaking down the reading stats as you enter your books for the year.

I’ve had a lot of fun watching my reading stats take colorful shape, and wanted to share a few fun highlights from the first half of the year.

Screengrab by the author, from Google Sheets designed by Book Riot

The genre chart is my favorite because it’s got so many colors! I’ve enjoyed seeing how my genre habits stack up as I go through the year. A few years ago, this would’ve looked incredibly different as I was reading mostly nonfiction during my MFA studies.

Screengrab by the author, from Google Sheets designed by Book Riot

The page count graph is also interesting to me. I think I’d have guessed my average reads trended a bit shorter because I associate this year’s genre of choice, romance, with shorter lengths. But clearly, I’m a 300–400 page kind of girl!

There’s also graphs and charts for other aspects of reading data like POC vs. non-POC authors and characters, book source (library, purchased, review copy, etc), LGBTQ+ authors, nation of origin, and more!

In all, it’s a very fun feature to see a snapshot of your reading life. I think I’ll definitely continue to use this method to track my reading going forward!


To Be Continued…

With six months left to go, 2021 promises plenty of reading yet to come!

Fall tends to be a slower time for me reading-wise, since I teach two courses in addition to my full-time job in Student Affairs. Nevertheless, I’m looking forward to the back half of my reading year and all the bookish goodness that it brings.

How has your year in reading gone so far? Do you track your reads, and if so, how? I’m always curious to hear how other people organize (or don’t!) their reading lives!


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