Reading Goals: Check, Check, and Check

Dec 29, 2014

It was by the skin of my teeth, but I did it. On Christmas Day, I finished the last book I needed to complete all my reading goals.

It was a fun year of reading, and once again, I'm really happy I set some goals at the beginning of the year to help guide my reading.

Here's how it all went down (book titles linked to full reviews):

1. Read something that I put on my to-read list in 2009
I have dozens of books on my to-read list that have been there for so long, I basically just scroll past them when I'm trying to decide what to read next. I made this goal in an effort to stop the scrolling and newly consider some of those titles again. I thought I would for sure read more than one book from my 2009 list, but I didn't. It turns out it's hard to give priority to books I've easily overlooked for the last five years. The book I read to complete this goal was In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan (April 2014).

2. Read something that I've checked out once from the library and had to take back before I could read it
Back in January, I mentioned two books that I currently had checked out that would qualify for this goal (since I'd checked out both of them once before): 168 Hours and The Great Unexpected. But . . . I returned both of them to the library without reading them. So there's the evidence right there: I have a bad habit of checking out too many books and returning many of them without reading them.

The book I ended up checking out again and actually reading this time was A Corner of White by Jaclyn Moriarty (June 2014).

3. Reread a book from my childhood
I figured as long as I was rereading a book I had enjoyed as a child, I might as well read it to my own children. I picked The Saturdays by Elizabeth Enright (even though I actually have much more vivid memories of the second book in the series, The Four-Story Mistake). We read it in November 2014, but if you've read my review of it, you'll know that even though we enjoyed it, it didn't quite create the warm, nostalgic feelings I was going for.

4. Finish a series I already started
This was one of my favorite goals last year (when I finished The Chronicles of Narnia), and I'm so glad I made it again this year. I decided to finish The Little House on the Prairie series, and reading those books was an indescribable treat. Given my lukewarm feelings toward Little House in the Big Woods (which I read several years ago), it's kind of amazing how much I now love the series as a whole. But love it I do. If I was pressed to choose a favorite, I think I'd have to go with Little Town on the Prairie, but it would be a really difficult choice.

For more of my thoughts on each book:

February 2014: By the Shores of Silver Lake
February 2014: The Long Winter
July 2014: Little Town on the Prairie
July 2014: These Happy Golden Years
August 2014: The First Four Years

I'm pretty sure Farmer Boy is on the docket for 2015. I just can't wait any longer to read it to my boys.

5. Read another installment in a series I already started
This goal was different from the one above because it gave me a chance to continue on in a series I was enjoying without having the pressure of finishing the whole thing off. Plus, there are some series that do really well with a little dip here and there without taking the whole thing in one gigantic gulp. So I decided to read Tears of the Giraffe by Alexander McCall Smith, the second book in The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series. While I liked the first book in the series, I really liked this second one (September 2014). I'm excited to take another little dip into Botswana and read the third installment in the near future.

6. Read something by Dickens
At the end of 2013, I knew I wanted to make reading another Dickens novel a priority in 2014, so I made it its own goal. I held off completing it until October 2014 (because Dickens just goes so well with October), but then I read Oliver Twist. And I was not disappointed. Except by the very last paragraph.

7. Read something less well-known by an author I love
I deliberated a long time about this one. I narrowed it down to three favorite authors: Daphne du Maurier, Sharon Creech, and Betty Smith. I finally went with Joy in the Morning by Betty Smith because that's just what I happened to be in the mood for when I had time to complete this goal. It was a great choice. I don't know that it topped A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Francie Nolan is hard to beat), but it definitely didn't disappoint.

8. Listen to something I've already read or vice versa
I completed this goal during the first half of the year when I read a hard copy of Navigating Early (May 2014) after listening to the audio version in 2013.

But then . . . wait for it . . . I decided to do the reverse experiment and listen to a book I had previously read (I know, overachiever right here). I listened to The Wednesday Wars by Gary D. Schmidt (November 2014). While I hadn't loved it in paper form, the audio changed my mind. (Having a different experience with another format definitely left me wondering how many other books I would have enjoyed more (or less) if I'd read them another way. I guess I'll never know.)

9. Read four Newbery contenders
I read four and enjoyed them all. I'd be happy to see any of them get some Newbery love, although I think Brown Girl Dreaming was my favorite (and it's the only one I now own, if that's any indication).

June 2014: A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd
August 2014: West of the Moon by Margi Preus
November 2014: Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
December 2014: Greenglass House by Kate Milford

10. Read a biography
The big surprise of 2014 was that out of all ten goals, this one was the hardest to complete. Harder than the goals with multiple books. Harder than Dickens. I chose to read Fire in the Bones (December 2014), a biography of William Tyndale by S. Michael Wilcox, which didn't seem like an overly ambitious biography, but for some reason it took me forever to get through. Out of all the check marks, I'm most proud of this one.

And that's it--18 books to complete 10 goals. Stay tuned because next week I will share my reading goals for 2015. Try to contain your excitement.

What was your favorite book of 2014? Most challenging? Most inspiring? Please share in the comments!


  1. I love this! How on earth did you decide what your goals would be though? It would take me forever to narrow it down!

    We've (my 2 daughters, ages 6 and 4, and I) been listening to the Little House series on cd--the ones read by Cherry Jones--and they are so wonderful! I'm not sure how I escaped childhood without reading them. My oldest's favorite was Farmer Boy (we accidentally listened to them out of order) which I think is so cute. :)

    1. Catie - I spend the whole year writing down potential goals and then I settle on a manageable number at the beginning of the year. But yes, the narrowing down is agonizing! :-)

      I listened to the Little House series, too, and Cherry Jones is absolutely fabulous!

  2. I don't know that I have one overall favorite read of the year, but I do have a post coming with a list of favorites. I have yet to Read the Little House series.At one point I decided to put off reading the series until I had a daughter to read to, but I really don't believe in putting good things off, so at some point I will dive in. There are just so many good things to read!

    1. I'm looking forward to your favorites post. I always love your recommendations!

  3. Great job on accomplishing all of your goals. Your post reminded me to check my 2014 goals to see how I did (I accomplished at least 8 of the 10) and has inspired me to work on my 2015 list while I'm on vacation. Unfortunately, unlike you, I think I'm better at making reading goals than accomplishing them! I usually fill my list with ringers. :)

    1. 8 out of 10 is still fantastic! I'm excited to see your 2015 goals!

  4. Hi Amy, I just learned of your terrific blog (from your parents' Christmas letter). I have been a reading addict for decades and absolutely love your creation. Keep it up I hope to check in often. Kathy just completed my set of the Laura Wilder books for Christmas (with Those Happy Golden Years). And I'm currently reading A Deadly Wandering (don't text and drive), Pascal's Pensees, Terryl Given's Wrestling the Angel, and Jim Corbett's Man-eaters (not for young readers). Kathy and I are reading Banner in the Sky together for fun. Hope you are doing well.

    1. Sam - it is so good to hear from you! We're visiting my family right now, and I had fun catching up on your family through your Christmas card.I hope you continue to share your thoughts on literature throughout the year! Give my best to Kathy!

  5. So many good books! I need to add some to my library list! As a family, we have LOVED Tumtum and Nutmeg this year. Charming and captivating all at the same time. :) I also just saw that you are reading Paddington! We just finished----hope you enjoy!

    1. Tumtum and Nutmeg has been on my reading list for a long time. Thanks for reminding me about it! And yes, we really liked Paddington!


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