Readers love a good challenge. We don’t just want to read books, we want to be strategic about how we tackle our ever-growing TBR lists. As 2020 comes to a close, we’re already making plans for how to meet our 2021 reading challenge goals. Check out our tips below!

Think outside the box
Most readers set an annual goal of the number of books they hope to read each year. But consider setting a challenge that has nothing to do with a number, such as writing a review for every book you read, starting a bookstagram or booktube channel to share your recs, or joining a book club. From there you can decide which reading challenge (or multiple challenges, for the bold) that you’re going to participate in. 


Consider your physical and virtual shelves
For challenges that follow prompts, see if you can pair books on your TBR list and NetGalley Shelf to the prompts. If you’re struggling to make matches, you’ll know early on that you may need to consider a different reading challenge.

If you’re hoping to read a certain number of books in 2021, make a shortlist of the books you’d like to read. Refer back throughout the year when you find yourself stumped over what to pick up next.


Find a tracking method that works for you
The key to accomplishing your reading challenge is quickly finding your next read. Whether you keep all of your unread books in a single place or if you use virtual methods, find a way of keeping track of the books on your to-read list so that when the time comes you can easily sort through and find the one you’re looking for. 

To track your progress throughout the year, Goodreads is useful for readers who set a numeric goal, while a personalized spreadsheet might be a better fit for readers who want to focus on specifics like genre. Creative readers might gravitate towards a bullet journal instead. NetGalley’s weekly Checklist email is a great tool for keeping track of which books are ready for your Feedback. Test drive your tracking method with your December TBR list so that you’re ready to go on January 1.


Make time for reading
It’s easy to set a goal, but following through can be tricky. Consider your day-to-day schedule and block out specific times for reading on your calendar, or set small daily goals to read a specific number of pages. Remember that audiobooks are a multitasker’s best friend and can easily be listened to while cooking, cleaning, or working out. We have extra tips on reading more here!


Connect with bookish friends
Having bookish BFFs is a great way to keep you reading all year long. Together you can start a book club, buddy read books together, host virtual silent reading parties, and simply swap book recommendations. Connect with your friends to share your 2021 reading goals and ask what their goals are so you can keep each other on track all year long! Need help meeting like-minded bookish folks? Check out reader forums like the one on our giveaway platform BookishFirst


Join a readathon
Readathons happen multiple times throughout the year and are hosted by book bloggers, booktubers, and bookstagrammers. Joining the fun can be a great way to get in some reading and to make some friends. Here are our tips on how to successfully participate!


Check-in and evaluate throughout the year
Don’t be afraid to scale up or down accordingly if you realized your original plan isn’t a good fit. Novellas and graphic novels are always great options for fast and enjoyable reads that can help you get back on track if you’ve fallen behind. Set reminders for yourself as often as you need them to check-in and reevaluate your challenge. Remember the biggest goal of the challenge is to have fun!

Kelly Gallucci

Kelly Gallucci is the Executive Editor of We Are Bookish, where she oversees the editorial content, offers book recommendations, and interviews authors and NetGalley members. When she's not working, Kelly can be found color coordinating her bookshelves, eating Chipotle, and watching way too many baking shows.

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