Reading Targets: Good, Bad or Ugly?

Reading my Kindle lately has been enjoyable, but kind of frustrating. I detest with a passion that little % symbol – give me pages please!

Why? Because I’m that sort of oddball who reads a book and likes to calculate how long they have left to go before finishing it. I’m not talking about the ‘x hrs y minutes’ that Kindle calculates by the secret algorithm of individualised reading speed, but ‘if I want to finish X book in Y days, how many pages do I need to read?’

Now, unless the book is from the library or it’s an eARC that’s timed to turn into a pumpkin shortly, it shouldn’t matter. Although I join in the Book Challenges hosted by The Reading Room and Goodreads (‘my plan is to read ten thousand million zillion books in 2014’), the sky isn’t going to fall in whether I meet that target or not. Why do I do it?

It’s fun, in a kind of nerdy way.

It’s all a bit of mental maths. For example, today’s Saturday and I want to finish my current book by Wednesday. It has 300 pages and I have 5 days to read it in. Daily target = 60 pages. I’ve read 200 pages = two thirds done.

It gives me time to think about my next book.

What am I going to read after this? Should it be similar, or different? What’s the opposite of a crime novel, is it a romance?

Appropriate planning on public transport.

Possibly one of the worst case scenarios for me is running out of things to read on the commute home (or even worse, the way to work!) So if I know that I read 50 pages of a particular book each day to and from work and I have 30 pages to go when I get home Thursday…I need to bring two books. Or better still, finish off the book at home and start a new one tomorrow.

I usually read two books a week on average – it depends on what I’m doing and what I have planned. But this doesn’t always work out – chunksters for example. There’s no way I can read something huge in a week. I know that. I don’t tailor the other book I’m reading to be shorter so I make that magic target. Some books are just slower to read (hello S.).

So it turns out that even if I have a target, I’m not fanatical about achieving it. It’s more of a guide. I did use set targets when I was doing Lit (mainly because some of the books were so boring) but now, I suspect it’s more to take stock of where I’m at in my reading.

Do you set page targets? Must you read a certain number of pages every day? Or whatever will be, will be?

16 thoughts on “Reading Targets: Good, Bad or Ugly?

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  1. I find that if I have a concrete target or number of pages, I just get stressed out. I’m better at setting time goals, such as reading for as long as I can before bed. I think that, with book goals, it becomes a chore for me if it’s too concrete.

  2. I am constantly checkin page numbers! In my head I’m calculating how many pages half will, how many pages a quarter, a tenth etc… I like to know I’m making progress I think, and I always feel better once I’ve passed the halfway point. No idea why! I read about a book a week, a pretty steady rate for me over the past couple of years so there’s no need for me to count pages really!

  3. Given that my blog project is to read all the books I own before I can buy anymore means I feel like I have one ENORMOUS target to meet! Rather than focusing on the fact that I’m trying to get through 746 books, I’ve set myself the more manageable one of getting to under 700 over the coming year. So I have 43 more to go during 2014. If I can do one a week then I’m on track!

    1. That sounds much better – 43 compared to 700! I don’t dare to count all my books, I know that there are far too many for the bookshelves. My aim is ultimately to fit them into the bookshelves.

  4. I hate that % sign too! Sometimes I just want to know how many pages are left in the chapter I’m reading without have to click, click, click ahead then backtrack trying to remember where I left off!

  5. Hehe I don’t have a Kindle but if I’m close to the end of a book, I do like to take a look to see how many pages I have left to decide if I should plow on ahead and forfeit sleep or leave it for the next evening. Or I read till I realise that I’m attempting to read with my eyes closed, then I stop 😉

  6. LOL – good to know I’m not the only one 🙂

    I set targets only for chunksters or books I’m struggling with -ones I needed to read other books in between for a break. Can’t you set your goals by percentage then? Say if you’re at 30% and you have to finish it in 2 days, then aim to read 35% per day? I do that sometimes with my Kobo

    1. I can do percentage, but I worry that my mental maths skills will start to fail because it’s too easy 🙂 Maybe I should look into the Kindle books that have Real Page Numbers (can’t believe that’s a selling feature!)

  7. These are important questions Sam!

    I had a similar dilemma over Christmas – we were going to be away for 12 days – how many books should I pack?
    The issue being that during the holidays I read far more per day than I do during a regular working day, but I don’t want to add too much weight to my carry-on luggage, but I don’t want to run out of reading matter 2 days short & have nothing to read on the plane trip home (gasp of horror at the thought!!)

  8. Can’t say about pages, but if the book has relatively longer chapters, I aim to finish at least one chapter per day (on my commute to work and back). If I spare some time to read at night, then another chapter it is!

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