A Game of Books

Posted December 28, 2016 by Nicky in General / 18 Comments

I have trouble with reading goals. If I set a number, I’ll find myself racing through books, sticking to shorter books, and ignoring the books I truly want to read. So, I have two plans for next year. Resolutions, I suppose.

The first one: read for joy.

You’d think it’s obvious, but nope. I find myself reading out of a sense of obligation all the time. I don’t reread X because I need to read A in time for the publication date. I don’t read Y because B has been on my list for longer. I don’t read Z because C is shorter, which means I can meet my reading goal faster. And though quite often I enjoy A, B and C, I wanted to read X, Y and Z more.

So my plan for this year is to read whatever brings me joy. I just have another rule — or, well, a game.

A "Game of Books" image, based on the Iron Throne

Yep. It goes like this: let’s say I normally read about 30 books a month when I’m trying to stick to a reading goal. So we’ll call that… 90 points, if each book is worth 3 points (see below). I want to earn 100 points a month. Each book gets points from a couple of different categories: Acquisition, Length and Joy Factor. I get more points for reading a book I bought back in 2013 than for a book bought in 2017, more points for a 500-pager than a 300-pager, and more points for reading something that felt in any way like a chore.

AcquisitionLengthJoy Factor
12017, borrowed, current ARC, rereadComic/under 300 pagesMUST READ NOW
22015-2016400+ pagesIt can wait
32013-2014500+ pagesI'm not exactly pumped
42011-2012600+ pagesDo I HAVE to?

So say I read Owl and the Japanese Circus, which I got in 2015. I want to read it, but I’m not all grabby-grabby. I only have it as an ebook, so I’ll check the page count on Goodreads… 432. So that’s two points for Acquisition, two for Length, and two for Joy Factor. Six points for the book in total.

If I finally read Glyn Jones’ The Island of Apples, that’s from 2011 (4 points), it’s 256 pages long (1 point) and I’m not very enthused about it (3 points, possibly 4). So that’d get me 8-9 points. I’d only need to read 13 books in that month to hit my goal, but I’d have picked up something from way back in the TBR that I was interested in (because I’ve never bought a book I had no interest in) that I might not have picked otherwise.

The point is that little bit of extra motivation… or not, if all I want to do is devour 30ish books of under 300 pages in length each month.

Also, to give myself some wriggle room, while 100 is the monthly goal — which would mean a yearly goal of 1,200 points — I’m going to make my overall goal 1,000 points, to keep things a bit more relaxed.

Can I do this too?

Sure! Feel free to adapt it however you want, but I’d appreciate a link back here. I’ll be posting updates every month on how I’m doing, and I’ve made a spreadsheet with a template sheet you can copy, edit, whatever. You can find that here! And don’t forget to let me know how you’re doing if you do join in.

And if you can make better graphics, knock yourself out…

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18 responses to “A Game of Books

  1. I LOVE this idea!!! I think I will use it, just for curiosity’s sake, not because I think it’ll help much with my motivation. I read quite slowly and due to the fact that i have about 10 books on the go at any one time (dead-tree novel, eBook, poetry collection(s), read-aloud to the kid, read-aloud to my husband, audio book, kids eBook, non-fiction) I really don’t have a problem with deciding what to read next! I’m not sure if I’ll post this to my blog or not, but it’s an interesting thing to post about, so maaaybe!
    Diane recently posted…Poetry Planet No. 16 Animals & Creatures – Show NotesMy Profile

  2. Hmm. For me Reading for Joy wouldn’t mean totting up points, but I can see that it could be a way of measuring your joy in a concrete way. Apart from setting a manageable goal of reducing Mount TBR this coming year I’m not consciously going to be bound by any Reading Challenge. No siree. Not ever.

    Famous last words, possibly. The Island of Apples is also one title I’ve had on my shelves for a while without being able to summon up the enthusiasm to tackle it properly. Maybe in 2017 …
    Chris Lovegrove recently posted…In darkest New EnglandMy Profile

    • I’m definitely not planning on reading anything that I completely hate, but there are some books (like the Glyn Jones) that I want to have read, but haven’t made time for yet. I’m hoping the game (and the idea is to make it a game, so I can play with strategy and such; I enjoy that) will help me make the time!

  3. I like your Game of Books idea and it sounds like a good way to motivate youself for next years reading. I guess I’m lucky that I’m always reading for joy now…no ARCs and deadlines, just mood reading! I do intend to tackle books that’ve been on my tbr for longer and get the short books out the way in January to get my tbrs dropping faster and motivate me to greater effort! I’ll be cheering you on and keeping up to date with your progress! Good luck!
    chucklesthescot recently posted…The Good, The Bad, The Ugly: 2016 News RoundupMy Profile

    • Good luck to you too! I’m hoping that this will make all my reading equally motivating, even if it doesn’t drop my TBR faster… but we’ll see.

  4. This is a really intriguing idea. Ooooooh. My brain hurts too much (self-inflicted, no sympathy earned!) for the amount of thinking it’s doing this morning!

  5. prismaticjill

    I’m thinking about doing this. I made a number of books to read goal for 2017. The first time I had made a goal that could be tracked/verified was 2016 and I actually passed it and was happy about that–I also got a new reputation at work as being the girl who always reads so I’m okay with that. So I want to keep it up for 2017–but I’m trying to work on reading more “important books” initially my goal was not a single book written by a white male, but that’s not exactly the super motivating kind of challenge like this game is. So I’m going to tweak it. Have a category for if it’s political, if it’s significant to today’s issues, etc. I don’t know if that’s as easy to categorize as the others, but it might make my book selection and the motivation of it all more fun/game like.

    But P.S. Tell me how on earth you read so many books!? I’m seriously just dumbfounded. Even in my high time studying literature and nothing else in school I never read that many. Impressive man. Kudos.

    • Yay! You’d be totally welcome to join — and tweak it however you want. If you look at the spreadsheet doc, everyone’s tweaked it however works for them (and I’ve changed mine from the base sheet, too).

      I just make the time, I’m afraid! I used to read more, back when I studied lit, but with a science degree, it’s a little more difficult to squeeze it in.

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