Why don’t I set a target?


I know you are surprised and curious! I know you are thinking that targets or goals form an imperative part of our lives and without them we may seem like a rudderless boat, which would never reach anywhere.

There are some targets, which seem inevitable, which are like milestones and refuse to move till we accept them as realities. I know! I too had to honor them but I would call them compulsive cahoots, gnawing at our minds everyday, challenging our abilities and pushing us closer to the curve of compliance.

Setting goals for reading? Really?

What confounds me is setting targets for joy, happiness, travel, leisure and above all reading! I have heard many times…‘this year I am going to focus on happiness’…as if our focus on this fleeting emotion ever wavers!

Setting targets for pleasure trivializes the term ‘goal,’ which inspires vision and success in the chosen field. Unconditional commitments do make us determined but isn’t it better to reserve them for more important achievements?

I have always encouraged my students to set academic goals to reach the pinnacle of glorious pedestal they would like to perch on and many of them have accomplished them.

I have never set a target of reading books, as I believe we read for pleasure, not for meeting goals and invite unnecessary stress. There are many other triggers around us to cause stress.

I have never kept a count of books I have read for all these years. Completing a book and starting another one is as normal for me as changing an outfit.

While Goodreads keeps nudging me to set a target, I remind myself …’If you take a book like a medicine, it loses its charm.’ I had learnt this lesson long ago when I could not read the specified number of books for my Literature discussions! The more I tried to keep up the pace; my concentration grew less and less.

Pledging to read a book within a specified time is like a noose hanging before me, depriving me of all the joy connected with the style of the author and language of a book.

Is it all about numbers?

Reading is not just about numbers and being able to say… ‘I have read 25 books this year.’ It is more about absorbing the thoughts, savoring the words, imagining and connecting with the places. It is a breezy journey to enjoy, not a whirlwind to escape! Quality of reading enriches our experiences, not the quantity.

“In the case of good books, the point is not to see how many of them you can get through, but rather how many can get through to you.” – Mortimer J. Adlerreading-quote

It is more rewarding to read a book slowly so that we can absorb the virtuousness of our favorite character…to drench in the feelings of people around us…so that we can become a part of their world.

Is it about emotions?

Some people don’t get emotionally engaged in a book, they read it very fast, without actually stepping into the realm of fantasy, without identifying with the characters and their thoughts.

One of my friends had this habit of reading the books very fast. Whenever we would mention a book or share it, she would come out with this reply… ‘Oh! I have read that!’ At that juncture of life, as a young and immature reader, I would envy her speed. I even tried to read in her manner but honestly speaking, I could hardly enjoy the book and felt guilty too.

Shallow reading seems to be the norm of the day just to complete the resolution of reading a specified number of pages during the day. If the book is a cheap romance or a thrilling mystery, delving deep into it may be inconceivable but we get out of such books quite early in life.

Reading without any distractions around us – another challenge of modern times!

The other day I happened to be at a hospital, waiting for a procedure of a dear one to be over and to keep my thoughts positive, I had taken my kindle along with me.

I tried very hard to concentrate with chit chat going all around, two ladies talking continuously, exchanging their views on every possible topic from hair styling to cooking!

I had read 20% of the book but I want to start it again for the pure pleasure of soaking in the beautiful words, which got lost in the crescendo around me.

“If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all.” – Oscar Wilde

Do you set targets for reading? Do you read faster to reach those targets? I am waiting eagerly for your perspective on commercialization of reading for pleasure.

Thank you for reading this. Please add your valuable reflections, they are much appreciated.

If you have liked this article, please share it at your favorite social networks.

Balroop Singh.


52 thoughts on “Why don’t I set a target?

  1. I’m with you! I’ve tried to set targets with reading, but like you, I lose passion and drive. I have to take my time and pick up a book when I feel called to in order to truly embrace it for what it is and connect with it. I would say that I intuitively read, if that makes any sense!

    1. Thanks for sharing your view alalyak and welcome to Emotional Shadows…all emotions are cared for here. I wonder how many readers truly ’embrace a book’…what a lovely expression!

  2. Like you, I’ve never set targets for reading. Speed reading a book is not my thing too and I much prefer to soak up each sentence and try to figure out the themes the author is alluding too. If I feel confused reading a page, I would go back and read it again before moving on with the book.

    “commericalisation of reading”. So well said. I think some of us simply read for the surface of the narrative – the storyline. That’s probably for instant gratification. But, I think take your tine to read a book, take your time to know it and find out what makes it good. I would rather walk away from a reading a book knowing that I fully immersed myself in it and trying to connect with the author and their perspective – it is always a liberating feeling. Because you learnt something 🙂

    1. No wonder we like each other so much dear Mabel! Hugs! I also tend to read and re-read till I completely get the point. I know this habit slows me down but I am never worried about how many pages I read during the day. I am so glad that there are a few persons who like to immerse themselves into a book. Many thanks for sharing an honest opinion! 🙂

      1. No worries, Balroop. It is so much more worthwhile to take things slow and actually learn a lesson. After all, we will all reach the end of the book after some time 🙂

    1. I know, I can understand your situation so well arv…there is always a time in our life when our priorities and responsibilities take precedence over reading. I have been through similar situations! Stay blessed.

  3. Excellent post, Balroop. I think (hope) most people who set reading targets get a kick out of it. When I was on vacation as a younger working person my goal/target was to read one book a day. It was such a luxury and felt like a total indulgence – the perfect vacation for me. I completely agree with you that if reading goals involve pressure, they aren’t worth it. Why turn such as fun and rewarding activity into a chore? 🙂

    1. Thanks for your kind words Diana. One book per day is beyond my imagination but my daughter can manage such a wonderful feat so well! My vacation focuses more on Nature, its sounds, exploring more about the surroundings and read a few pages just before burying my head deep into the pillow and dream about walking through a forest. 🙂

  4. To read fast or slowly ought not to be a point of contention as what matters is to read at the pace one feels comfortable in. I am not a fast reader myself; yet speed reading has its benefits as it enables coverage of targeted frontiers within the limited time at one’s disposal. So it may be desirable to strike a balance by finishing a book a month that is viable as a target at a pace of reading that is still comfortable.

    1. I agree with you dear Raj, the pace that is comfortable is the best. Competitive reading is as stressful as any other competition and it is saner to keep it away from reading for pleasure. Many thanks for reading and sharing your opinion, much appreciated. 🙂

  5. I like to take time to savor a book and really get to know its characters. Targets? Our local library’s book club assigns one book each month. There are times when I just don’t get to finish; but, I do enjoy listening to and joining in the discussion each month. My personal reading outside of this group is generally one or two books each month.

    1. Some books are worthy of spending a lot of time with, if the language is lyrical. I spent almost two months while reading ‘Lolita’ as many pages are a linguistic treat. Though there is nothing in this book as far as plot or characterisation is concerned but the language is too good.
      Thank you dear Bette for sharing your view. Have a wonderful Sunday.

  6. I totally agree with this whole sentiment, Balroop. You’ve brought up a great topic. Why do we read in the first place? I love that quote about a book getting through not the other way around! I find at my age, I sometimes have to re-read a paragraph because my mind has wandered…that will certainly slow me down 🙂 However, I’ve always been one to read for pleasure and that includes all kinds of books, even cheap romances. I’ve never set a target! Why disappoint myself in my pleasure of reading when there are so many other areas I could do that. Loved this post, Balroop!

  7. I agree with you Lisa, when the mind wanders I too have to come back to re-read. Sometimes I have to skip those pages by just scanning through them if the topic being discussed doesn’t interest me. All I have in mind is the pleasure…books are like those friends with whom we can spend all day, talking at will or soaking in their company, silently! 🙂

  8. “While Goodreads keeps nudging me to set a target, I remind myself …’If you take a book like a medicine, it loses its charm.’”

    Yeah. I never liked reading until I graduated from college and didn’t “have to” do it anymore. Now reading is one of my favorite things to do.

  9. I don’t read books, so can’t speak for that. However, I do set tangible targets for quantitative aspects, like I have to achieve this much profit in the Stock Market in a year…that helps me work towards it diligently. I do enjoy on the way too, which is more important than the target itself.

    I guess it is more of what works for whom. Even otherwise, there should be a balance in any aspect of life…and one should be happy doing it.

    1. I am sure you would start reading them Alok…you just have to get across the right one! Professional targets do give a boost to our career but there is a wonderful world beyond that…the same as you find in your photography and even better! 🙂

  10. I do try to read 50 books a year (including audiobooks), but sometimes it might be more like 36 books a year. I don’t think it makes me read any faster. I just like to make goals and lists. It’s kind of an addiction. I’ve gotten better about quitting books that don’t grab on to me right away though. I used to feel obligated to finish, but not anymore.

    1. I have never tried audio books but a target of 50 books a year could be very challenging, at least for me! It is easier to quit Kindle books, that’s another plus point of ebooks! 🙂

  11. I sped read all through college, as I never would have completed all my coursework while working full-time if I did not. Some books I did read in their entirety, but it was rare. Other than that, I’ve delved into every single book with relish, immersing myself in the stories of the characters. So fully do I embrace the stories that I am almost depressed when a good book ends! Then I go looking for other works the author wrote. Besides this, I have at least 3 books going at once and love Overdrive, my library app, where I listen solely to audiobooks when driving. I have Never set ‘goals for reading,’ save the coursework aforementioned. It would take the fun out of reading, at least for me. Aloha, Balroop!

  12. Reading for passing the exams seems to be a cumbersome obligation and I could never enjoy all the classics that I had to read but I am glad I did because they endowed me with the capability of appreciating a good book.
    Thanks for sharing your view on reading dear Bela, you seem to appreciate my perspective. 🙂

  13. This is an excellent post dear Balroop…
    You say:
    “Setting targets for pleasure trivializes the term ‘goal,’ which inspires vision and success in the chosen field. Unconditional commitments do make us determined but isn’t it better to reserve them for more important achievements?”.
    you are right when you highlight that many times we get confused. Emotions or abstract feelingsd such as happiness or Joy do not seem to be targets but probably long term goals (in fact being happy is more a state of being than a circumstantial thing, I´d say)…
    Goals could be linked to pleasure and monetary achievements or aims … The word target seem to be more general and positive when it comes to a hollistic approach, I am guessing.-
    Sending love & best wishes, my friend. 😀 🙂

    1. Thank you dear Acqui for sharing your thoughts here…happiness can never be a goal as it is already within us! We have to dig it out and feel it. Yes, it could be circumstantial too, as you say. I have written about happiness and joy in a couple of posts here. Goals seem to be more relevant when we think of successful ventures or career. You are so right! Have a wonderful week. Sending love and wishes back to you too. 🙂

  14. A wonderful post here Balroop. I’m with you on your thoughts. Although it sometimes seems natural to want to beat our own records, reading a book is for fulfillment and enjoyment, not to be rushed through as a task. I too need silence to read, just as I do when I write, and I’ve often gone back and reread pages that I felt I didn’t get the whole essence of due to some distraction. Signs of a serious reader. 🙂

    1. Yes! I too feel racing through a book is more like accomplishing a task…I have never enjoyed it whenever I tried. Thanks for sharing your view Debbie, much appreciated. 🙂

  15. I have become a very slow, deep reader inclined to savor wonderful written passages and a second and third journey through a book. One summer, when my children were young, I set a goal to read as many books as I could during the summer months. One by one I listed them on a chart on the refrigerator. It pushed me to read more and when summer ended and I had dozens of books listed, I felt good. However, that was then. I’m no longer inclined to live on a timeline or with goals pressing me forward. I prefer a slower, calmer, more peaceful approach. Perhaps it’s age. Whatever it is, I like it!

    1. Welcome to Emotional Shadows dear Dorothy. Wow! I like your outlook…’perhaps it’s age’…so true! We do mellow down with age and like to slow down too. Pushing ourselves doesn’t give much joy and we understand wherein lies the pleasure…no more racing! 🙂 Thanks for the visit and sharing your beautiful perspective. Have a nice week!

  16. I would never think about setting targets for reading, Balroop. I know some do. More and more people. As you mentionned Goodreads is a good exemple.
    Reading is a hobby I enjoy way too much. As you say in life we have to set up many targets for many projects – it’s how things work.
    But for reading, it feels like missing the joy of the ride!
    I really enjoyed reading you today. Thanks and stay well.

    1. I think this setting of target could have been started by business gurus whose focus is selling more and more books. For them it is a race, a project but for us…a hobby, a choice and we ought to be wise enough to make our choices. Thanks for your input Marie, much appreciated. Stay blessed. Sending you much love from the Pacific. 🙂

  17. Target-setting for reading books is something I’ve never been into. Books, as you’ve said, are sheer pleasure to me and finishing one then picking up another comes naturally. Why setting a target for that? I’m not in a race….it’s for my very own happiness that I read books. I take substantial time to finish one so that I can relish the narration. I agree with all your points here wholeheartedly… 🙂

  18. That is a great way to look at it! I always feel bad, as though I’m not reading as much as other people. But it isn’t about numbers. It’s about enjoying the adventures these books take us on!

    1. You are right Stephanie, adventures do matter and that’s why some books become loving companions! To my mind, reading can never be a competition, either with self or others.

  19. I’ve thought about setting reading goals, Balroop, because so much of late has precluded reading. But I want to do the author ~ and myself ~ justice by reading with comprehension. And, as you said, I want to enjoy what I’m reading. I don’t know how I’ll solve this dilemma, but I do need to make more time for reading. I’m beginning to have withdrawal symptoms … 🙂

    1. Slow down dear friend, that’s so simple…just tell yourself that you have set those goals just for fun! I do the same for my blogging too. If my post is not ready, I tell myself – ‘so what! I am my own boss! I would post whenever I finish’ and guess what…I always manage to finish it before time! 🙂

  20. This post reminds me how during my childhood, we would set targets for reading story books that we rented from a local shop, and had to return those on time to avoid paying more. But after that phase, I don’t remember setting any target for reading books (except for textbooks), Like you, I would rather read at leisure and enjoy the book.

    1. Children do take pleasure in setting sweet little targets as they are always in a competitive mood…good for that age as it infuses that extra energy. Isn’t it weird that we try to unlearn many passions as we move ahead in life?! Thanks for sharing a lovely memory Somali.

  21. One of your best posts to date, Balroop. I think I understand now why it takes me so long to read a book. I have always enjoyed immersing myself in a book, becoming familiar with the characters, and identifying with their predicaments. Perhaps that is why my own writing continues to emphasize characters over plot. As you well know, it’s all about the people in our lives that shape the events, and not the other way around. I really enjoyed this post. 🙂

    1. True! People are more important Joe…what would we do without them? Characterisation really matters to readers and I am glad that you spend so much time in shaping your characters as if they were real. Many thanks for your kind words dear friend. Stay blessed 🙂

  22. I am one hundred percent with you Balroop.. I read for pleasure and love to be able to pick up or put down book and read at my own pace.. Sometimes that pace is set by the tone of the book if its so absorbing often you can not put it down and cannot wait to pick it back up again..
    I have read many many books over the years.. And have enjoyed the library as well as buying many more which sit on the many book shelves in my home..
    I also love savoring books re-reading passages so that the sink in or that you absorb their quality of cleverly written passages.. And I will admit readily to re- reading many of them that I bought years ago whose themes I remember well, yet I delight in discovering again their details..

    Many thanks for your thoughts on this Balroop.. The only target I would set if one has not read a book from cover to cover is to do so.. You do not know what hidden treasures are woven within the words and pages, that take you along with them in the journey of discovering a Goodread..

    Love and Hugs..
    Sue xxxx

    1. Many thanks for reading this post and sharing your perspective on reading a book at your pace and keeping it just for pleasure…I am so glad that there are a few readers like me and I am blessed to have them as my most cherished friends. Reading and re-reading some passages just because the language appeals to me is just like watching a movie or a song again and again…just for pleasure!
      Love and hugs back to you. 🙂

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