Category: Pastimes

Interesting Options for Setting Reading Goals… and Why You Should

From expanding your vocabulary to boosting your brain activity to just being downright entertaining, reading has a plethora of benefits.

BooksTabletThis is the time of year when most people decide on what changes to make in their life and what they want to accomplish in the coming year. If reading more is anywhere on your resolution list, you might want to consider setting a solid goal for yourself.

If reading isn’t on your list anywhere, I refer you back to the first sentence of this article for reasons why it should be.

Here are a few ideas for setting and reaching a reading goal:

 

By Stephan Brunker from Wikimedia Commons

1. Set a Number

This is a pretty common, traditional way to set a reading goal. Do you want to read 20 books this year? 52? 100? Maybe you don’t read much and just want to increase to reading a book a month.

Whatever your number is, make sure it’s reasonable. If you take weeks to finish a book, don’t shoot for 100.

 

Help for Achieving Number Goals:

* Track your reading on a site/app like Goodreads or Shelfari. Pick your favorite book tracking site and log your reading. This will make it easier to remember what you’ve read.

Set your reading goal on Goodreads to keep track of it.
Set your reading goal on Goodreads to keep track of it.

* Make a sticker chart. Remember those charts when you were a kid? You got gold stars for anything and everything your teacher or parent could think of rewarding you for. Your inner child probably still finds some satisfaction in those gold stars. Print out a chart with a spot for each book you want to read. Then mark it off with a sticker when you finish it.

2. Expand Your Genres

Maybe numbers aren’t a problem. You’re constantly reading, but most if not all of those books fall into the same general genre. You might consider setting a non-fiction goal or an out-of-the-norm novel goal.

Help for achieving genre expansion goals: 

* You can set a ratio goal such as one non-fiction book for every three novels. One caution on this one: I tried this about three years ago and I ended up not reading anything for months because I was struggling so badly to get through the non-fiction book I’d chosen. Don’t let that happen to you.

* Consider joining a book club. If you join a monthly book club and commit to reading whatever book they are reading, it will pull you out of your comfort genre and make you try other things. Plus you’ll get he camaraderie of a book club. Try googling book clubs in your area or search for one on The Book Club Network. Goodreads also has a large assortment of online book clubs. You can also google online book clubs by specific genre you are hoping to expand into.

3. Use a Non-numeral Gauge

Maybe numbers aren’t your thing. You might have trouble grasping your progress on a numeral scale. Join Jon Acuff on his Empty Shelf Challenge. The concept is fairly simple. Empty out a bookshelf and read until you’ve filled it back up again. There’s even a Pinterest support group.

The empty shelf challenge on pinterest
The Empty Shelf Challenge on Pinterest

What are the benefits to this? You’re in a group with people of various reading speeds. Some are doing audio books, others are putting eBooks on a virtual shelf. Some are already on book five while others are still working on book one. Some devour non-fiction self-enrichment books while others read business books and still others almost exclusively read novels.

Unlike a normal book club, people are reading whatever they want, so you might get some good book recommendations. I know I have.

Other non-numeral challenges can be found on places such as Goodreads. Some I’ve seen in the past year:

* The Rainbow Challenge: Where your book covers have to make a rainbow OR books with the colors of the rainbow in the title.

* The State Challenge: Read books set in each state.

* The Dewey Decimal Challenge: For the non-fiction lover, read a book for each fifty number chunk of the Dewey Decimal system.

4. Use a Timer

Maybe all you really want or need is to make reading a priority in your life. Set aside a time to read every day. Thirty minutes, fifteen, maybe even an hour. Don’t worry about how many books you get through, just enjoy the time and benefits of reading.

 

Are you setting a reading goal?

If you’re looking for a good place to start, check out any of the books on our Inspirational Regencies list, particularly those by your favorite Regency Reflections author. You can also look back through our December posts for some recommendations on traditional regencies. And keep an eye on this blog throughout the year as we tell you about more great Regency-set books.

Looking for something outside the Regency? Two of our authors just published a couple of non-Regency books that will still warm your heart and given you an enjoyable read. Check them out.

Regency Research

I have been editing and proofreading a manuscript I published some years ago, to which I have recently received the publisher’s rights back. I am going over the story in order to self-publish it as an e-book on Amazon. What strikes me about rereading a story written a while ago is how much research goes into writing a regency—or any historical, for that matter. When one is in the process of writing it, one takes this for granted. But when you read it long afterward, it’s enough to make you shake your head. Did I really know all that stuff?

In this story, which takes place in London ballrooms, a country estate, and on the U.S. frontier of Maine, I had to research both the social mores of regency society, the low-class pastimes of regency rakes (cockfighting, gambling, etc.), the sports that the athletic sorts– aka Corinthians–indulged in, before turning to the fledgling settlements of “the Maine Territory,” and the wealth being generated from its pine forests.

So, you can see that a whole range of information was needed in order to build the framework for the love story between my hero and heroine.

Take the gambling game of faro, for example. I’d read enough Georgette Heyer regencies to be somewhat familiar with the game, but I never knew until I researched it that it was played on a board, upon which the cards were laid out like so:

Farolayout
Layout of a Faro Board. Source: Wikipedia

I was fortunate to be able to take a trip to England during the researching of this book. Not only did I visit the London Museum, which has a wealth of information and artifacts on everyday life in the city over the centuries, but I also discovered a wonderful mansion not too far outside of London. This estate served as a model for the setting of a house party in my story. I was able to tour the rooms and grounds and get the layout for my hero and heroine’s stay at a fictionalized version of Osterley Park. As I walked the area, my plot grew.

Osterley_Park_House,_London-25June2009-rc
Osterley Park House, London. Source: Wikipedia

Lastly I needed to research the city of Bangor, Maine and the logging industry of 1815, before Maine had its statehood. It was still a part of Massachusetts and known as the Maine Territory. But following the War of 1812, those involved in the lumber industry were making a sizable profit cutting down the majestic pine trees of the Maine forests and selling them for ship masts, lumber, and shingles both to Europe and to the American cities farther south. My plot advanced as I imagined my hero going from the ballrooms of London to the rough lumber camps of the Maine woods in winter, then risking his neck on a river drive in spring as the picture below depicts:

lumbermen
Selections from Picturesque Canada, An Affectionate Look Back, Sketch no. 40, 1882-85, Pandora Publishing Company, Victoria, B.C.

Of course my hero is a former soldier, who survived the Battle of Waterloo, so he is used to danger. But as a Redcoat among Yankees, he must face many challenges before being accepted into the ranks of the lumbermen. All for the sake of winning the girl.

I hope those who read the updated version of A Rogue’s Redemption will enjoy both the historical detail as well as the timeless love story.