It’s almost that time again! For the past few years I’ve been playing a kind of sort of game: a Game of Books! This year, I’m already set up to do a third year of it, alongside my sister (third year) and my wife (freshman). Basically: read books, earn points, stay on track.

The idea is to encourage me to meet not an arbitrary deadline of x books per year (which could be 200 really short books) but to give me a way of earning equal credit for each book, depending on effort and a few other factors.

So here’s the points system (for me):

Points

Acquisition

Length

Joy Factor

Series

How long did it take to read?

Bonus

1

2019

Comic book, sub-150 pages

GIMME IT

None / Gave up

Two days or less

Book club book read on time

2

2017-2018

200+ pages

I'm pretty excited

First book of a series

A week or less

ARC (2018 onwards)

3

2015-2016

300+ pages

It can wait

Mid-series

A fortnight or less

Read within a week of purchase or borrowing

4

2013-2014

400+ pages

Bit reluctant

Last book of a trilogy

A month or less

Read in a day (if 300 pages+)

5

2011-2012

500+ pages

Why am I doing this?

Last book of a series

O shit, what?

ARC from backlog (pre-2018)

So let’s take the book I just finished, Rattle His Bones. I bought it in 2018, so it’d earn me two points for that; it has around 250 pages, so another two points for that; I was pretty eager to read it, so two for that as well. It’s from the middle of a series (three points) and took me more than two days but less than a week to read (two points). It doesn’t fit any of my bonus criteria, so that’s 11 points in total.

How do I pick my yearly goal? I pick an average sort of book, calculate the points, and then multiply that by the number of books I’d like to read this year. That way, I get plenty of credit for books that are a big time investment, one way or the other, or more important for me to read — and I don’t get tempted to hit an arbitrary goal of 150 books this year by just reading a ton of comics (though comics have their place).

Why am I blathering on about this? Well, you’re all invited to join in! The spreadsheet is here. To join in, just claim yourself a sheet, lock it so no one else can edit it, and set yourself up. Feel free to copy/paste from my formatting, edit the points system yourself (you’ll see both my wife and my sister have different point systems to me, and that’s fine — the point is self-motivation), and generally play around with it.

It’s time for another game. A game to keep me reading my backlog.

A game of books!

By some miraculous alchemy, I figure out how many points I want to aim for in a year, and then I can earn them in various ways through reading. It goes like this…

Points

Acquisition

Length

Joy Factor (calculated before reading)

Series

How long did it take to read?

0

Comic or novella

From the bookshop straight to my eyeballs

Not in a series

Less than a week

1

2018, borrowed, ARC, etc

250+

MUST READ NOW

First in a series

Less than two weeks

2

2017

400+

It can wait

Next in a series

Less than three weeks

3

2015-2016

500+

I'm not exactly pumped

Finishes a series

Less than a month

4

2013-2014

600+

Do I have to?

Less than two months

5

2011-2012

700+

WHY?

OMG NIKKI

So say I have a book I purchased back in 2013… let’s say I read A Shadow in Summer. Purchased in 2013, so that’s four points for acquisition. It’s 336 pages long according to Goodreads, so that’s one point for length. I’d rate it as “it can wait” — it’s something I intend to read, but I don’t feel a burning need — so that’s three points if I finally get round to it. It’s the first in a series, so that’s one point, and… let’s say I devour it overnight, so I get no points for “how long?” Altogether, that’s nine points toward my monthly goal of 120, chosen based on my progress last year.

To work this out for yourself, you might want to see how many points you’d get for an average easy read from your TBR pile, and then add them up and multiply by however many of those you’d read in a month. That was my original reasoning, and it worked quite well in encouraging me to read longer books which would reduce my overall number of books per month, but get the same amount of points.

I have a template spreadsheet all ready here, and you’re welcome to steal the formatting from my own (locked for editing) sheet if you want to add in more of the bells and whistles. Feel free to customise it however you want, for your own goals; I only ask that you have fun and credit me for the idea, with a link back here.

The discussion this month is about books that have been on our TBR the longest. I’ll go back as far as the beginning of this blog for the ones I bought waaaay back then…

And some of those are even ARCs. Shame on me…

Who else still has TBR books from 2013 and earlier? Don’t let it just be me…

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.

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.

Acquisition

Length

Joy Factor

1

2017, borrowed, current ARC, reread

Comic/under 300 pages

MUST READ NOW

2

2015-2016

400+ pages

It can wait

3

2013-2014

500+ pages

I'm not exactly pumped

4

2011-2012

600+ pages

Do 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…