Reading Resolutions and Challenges for 2021

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, is about our reading goals and challenges for 2021.  In my last post, I wrote about my reading and blogging trends in 2020, so now it’s time to think about what I want out of the coming year. It’s not quite a “top ten” list; I’ve got five reading goals, five challenges, and three non-reading resolutions for the coming year. Updates on my reading challenges will be posted throughout the year on this page.

Reading goals:

When I thought about how I wanted to read this year, I came up with these general principles:

  1. read for enjoyment/comfort
  2. read to understand others, focusing on authors of color, LGBTQ, and books set in other countries
  3. read to learn about important issues, such as racial justice, current events, and history

Additionally, I’d ike to read with greater focus, paying deeper attention to how books are written and reading for quality rather than quantity.  One way to do this is by highlighting meaningful quotes and spending more time on reviews. 

In 2020 I avoided quarterly TBR lists and I mean to continue with that. It was one less thing to stress about, although I know for many, choosing what you read without a plan is stressful as well. What I mostly do is load up my library lists with what I’m interested in, put books on hold, and see when they come in. The downside to that approach is that those books come with a deadline and you have to resist taking out more than you can read. Plus I’m much more likely to read books that are on hold than books that are available whenever I want them, since the holds have other people waiting on them. In 2021, I’m going to make more effort to read books that aren’t on wait lists, which will also address my plan to read more “backlist” books. All too often I say “I need to read more by that author” but then something else catches my eye . 


In the Reading Nonfiction challenge by Book’d Out, you need to read nonfiction that falls into these categories:

  1. Biography
  2. Travel
  3. Self-help
  4. Essay Collection
  5. Disease
  6. Oceanography
  7. Hobbies
  8. Indigenous Cultures
  9. Food
  10. Wartime Experiences
  11. Inventions
  12. Published in 2021

Some of the nonfiction I hope to read this year: The Good Immigrant by Nikesh Sukla (essays), Eat a Peach by David Chang (food), Get Well Soon by Jennifer Wright (disease), and A Woman of No Importance by Sonia Purnell (wartime experiences). I haven’t identified books for the other categories yet.

This year I’ll be joining the Beat the Backlist challenge by  This challenge includes any books not published in 2021.  I may go a bit further with the definition than that; I might define “backlist” as 2019 or earlier and books by authors I’ve already read. Or I might identify a list of specific authors I want to read from.  I’ve already finished one backlist book this year, Only Ever Yours by Louise O’Neill.  Other authors I want to read more of include Ann Patchett, Octavia Butler, Elizabeth Strout, Sarah Moss, Susan Orlean, Ruth Reichl, James Baldwin, Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Ariel Lawhon, Courtney Summers, Aminatta Forna, Sarah Waters, TJ Klune, and Neil Gaiman.  In classics, I’d like to read more by George Eliot, Elizabeth Gaskell, Edith Wharton, and Thomas Hardy. To name a few.

Also new to me, this year’s reading challenge by Modern Mrs. Darcy is similar to Read Harder but completely customizable.  You define your reading goals and then pick prompts that will help you satisfy those goals.  Here are the prompts I’ve chosen.

  1. Read a book in translation.
  2. Read a book set somewhere I’ve never been but would like to visit.
  3. Read a book of poetry, a play, or collection of essays.
  4. Read a book of any genre that addresses current events.
  5. Read a book that’s over 600 pages.
  6. Read a classic I’ve been meaning to read.
  7. Read a book that intimidates me.
  8. Read a book I had previously abandoned.
  9. Read a Pulitzer Prize or National Book Award winner.
  10. Read three books by the same author.
  11. Read a book in the backlist of a new favorite author.
  12. Read a book I own but have never read.

Finally, I plan to continue with the Feed Your Fiction Addiction’s Book Blog Discussion Challenge, and my five-year “Reading Around the World” challenge, where I try to read books set in 50 countries I haven’t read about before.

Non-reading resolutions

  1. Manage email and social media better. My email is full of clutter I need to unsubscribe from, which causes me to lose the occasional important email. I also want to spend less time on social media like Facebook, which I don’t care for, while paying more attention to programs like LinkedIn which actually share information that is useful for me.
  2. Purchase less from Amazon. I get most of my books from the library and I switched over to Kobo last year, but I want to move to other retailers for things like household goods and drugstore items. I’m not sure if moving from one big business to another makes a real difference – but still, I worry about the dominance of Amazon and I hear better things about Target’s employment practices than Amazon’s. If anyone has other suggestions, I welcome them!
  3. Decrease waste, particularly from plastics. 2020 was a good year environmentally, since we dramatically reduced our driving an flying. I’ve been gradually replacing disposable goods like plastic ziploc bags with reusable ones, but I still have a ways to go. I’ll also be looking for books with practical suggestions for reducing waste – I know there are quite a few of them.

Those are my goals for the coming year. What are some of yours?

  26 comments for “Reading Resolutions and Challenges for 2021

  1. lydiaschoch
    January 12, 2021 at 1:50 pm

    Your reading goals sound great to me.

    I’m also decreasing what i buy from Amazon as much as I possibly can.

    My post.

    • January 12, 2021 at 5:58 pm

      Thanks, I hope you have a great reading year, and good luck with your reading goals. I’m afraid detaching myself from Amazon will be difficult, but I’m working on it.

  2. January 12, 2021 at 2:19 pm

    I’m going to try and be all about reading for comfort and enjoyment this year!

    Good luck with you goals!

    • January 12, 2021 at 5:56 pm

      Thanks Jules, I hope you have a great reading year!

  3. January 12, 2021 at 4:06 pm

    Reading books for enjoyment and comfort sounds really good to me this year. Good luck with all your reading challenges! 🙂

    • January 12, 2021 at 5:56 pm

      Thanks Lark, there’s a lot to be said for comfort reading. I hope you have a great reading year!

  4. January 12, 2021 at 4:16 pm

    Try – it connects to indie bookshops near you, so you can support indies from the comfort of your home! These sound excellent challenges; keen to see what you think of what you read.

    • January 12, 2021 at 5:55 pm

      Thanks for the suggestion, always good to know about other book sites – I’m fortunate to have some great indie bookstores in my area.

      • January 13, 2021 at 5:02 am

        Excellent! If they’re linked up to you can support them without worrying about going out, if it’s still unsafe in your area.

  5. January 12, 2021 at 5:36 pm

    Good luck with all of your reading goals and challenges! I’m doing several challenges myself since I find them so fun 🙂

    Happy TTT!


    • January 12, 2021 at 5:53 pm

      Thanks Susan. Good luck with your challenges and happy 2021!

  6. January 12, 2021 at 5:59 pm

    I really like your three general principles for reading. Actually, I think, I could boil them down to one: read for enjoyment/comfort. Since I am a curious person, I love learning new things, gaining new insights, so that counts as enjoyment for me as well. Good luck with your goals in 2021!

    • January 12, 2021 at 6:59 pm

      You make a great point about all three being about enjoyment, which is really the whole point of reading. It’s a false distinction that what is educational can’t be enjoyable; my favorite novel is one I read as a class assignment. Thanks for the insight!

  7. January 12, 2021 at 7:46 pm

    I love your goals. The idea of reading to understand others is an admirable one. I struggle with this a bit — it’s important to me, but at the same time, I end up getting stressed when I try to make my reading fit a list of what I “should” read, so I need to find a happy medium. Good luck with all the challenges too!

    • January 14, 2021 at 7:13 pm

      Thanks Lisa! I think reading just for enjoyment is the most important thing. I agree it’s easy to get stressed thinking about what you should read. Thankfully I enjoy reading books that challenge me, just not all the time.

  8. January 13, 2021 at 7:59 pm

    I think your resolutions are fab, particularly phrasing it as reading to understand others.

    I’m also taking part in Shelleyrae’s Read Non Fiction Challenge this year!

    • January 14, 2021 at 6:21 pm

      Thanks, and I hope you enjoy the Nonfiction challenge!

  9. January 13, 2021 at 11:52 pm

    All the best on your goals.
    A big one of me is to buy less books. I hope it works out.

    • January 14, 2021 at 7:12 pm

      Good luck with your goal! I find the library helps a lot, unless you’re trying to read more books you already own. Hope you’re doing well with all the craziness these days!

      • January 15, 2021 at 8:51 am

        Thanks! And I hope the same for you.

  10. January 14, 2021 at 10:38 am

    Delighted you are joining the Nonfiction Reader Challenge again this year!

    • January 14, 2021 at 7:11 pm

      Thanks Shellyrae, I look forward to it! I’m already reading a good one that will meet the wartime experiences category.

  11. Vidya Tiru
    January 15, 2021 at 2:52 am

    i hope to continue nonfiction reading this year with the nonfiction challenge .. your picks sound good

  12. January 17, 2021 at 12:40 am

    Great list! I love the sound of those challenges but since I’ve been even worse than usual at actually completing them, I’ll just be sticking to the one that I have already started. I do want to tackle more of my backlist this year too though! Definitely also agree about reading for enjoyment as well as to keep diversifying my reads to broaden my understanding and perspective 🙂 I hope you enjoy completing all these goals!

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