Setting SMART (reading) Goals

Forget “New Year, New You.” It’s New Year, New Books!

I hate New Year’s Resolutions. There’s too much pressure, and shit, we barely made it through the holidays with all their inherent pressures, so can we just get on with 2016 without the added stress of promising to get in shape and be a better person?

Besides, I know from experience that resolving to be a better person makes no discernible difference in my personality, so instead of making resolutions, I’m setting a few goals. I like goals. You set a goal, and then when you achieve said goal, you strike it off the list and feel great! And then you set a new goal, and at the end of the year you can say: look at all the goals I achieved, instead of looking back and saying hmm, I’m the same person I was last year, only more out of shape…

As all the books say, though, goals have to be SMART. (You know: s=specific, m=measurable, a=attainable, r=realistic and t=timely.)


My New Year’s Goal is to Read More Books, but in the following SMART Reading Goal Categories:

S = Short stories

Short stories are the ultimate in realistically attainable goals, (they’re short!) and on my list for this year are:

Willful Creatures by Aimee Bender: I read her previous collection The Girl in the Flammable Skirt and loved it, so I have high hopes for this book.

How Did You Get This Number by Sloane Crosley: Apparently, “In this hilarious collection of essays, Crosley comments drolly on her adventures traveling around the world.” I’m always up for hilarity.

Hellgoing: Stories by Lynn Coady:  Coady won the 2013 Giller for this book, plus I’ve been meaning to read her work for ages…

M = Magic realism

M could have been for Mystery, but setting a goal to read more mysteries is like setting a goal to shower at least once a week – pretty much a given. However, my Reality could use a bit more Magic in it, hence:

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz: I read This Is How You Lose Her a few years back and loooved it.

Swamplandia! by Karen Russell: I keep seeing this book recommended based on other books I’ve loved, so I have to give it a try.

The Particular Sadness Of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender: Another Aimee Bender, but this one’s a novel. Plus I love the title.

A = Authors I haven’t read before

When I like a book, I tend to binge read everything the author has ever written. (Six Austens in two weeks? Done.) But the new year seems like a good time to branch out, try something (someone) new.

Safekeeping by Jessamyn Hope: I forget where I saw this one recommended, but it’s about a kibbutz, a cast of crazy characters, and a medieval brooch. Sounds promising!

Villa America by Liza Klaussmann: A novel about the “lost generation” in the 1920s French Riviera, and Sara and Gerald Murphy. I read a bio about the Murphys (Everybody Was So Young) and have been intrigued ever since.

Close to Hugh by Marina Endicott: To quote from the Penguin Random House website: “Close to Hugh is a glorious, exuberant, poignant comic novel about youth and age, art and life, love and death–and about losing your mind and finding your heart’s desire over the course of seven days one September.” Sounds irresistible!

R = Romance

I don’t mean paperback bodice-rippers, not that I’m ruling them out entirely – we should all have a few ripped bodices on our bookshelves, if not in our closets – but I’m talking about the type of romance you can read on the subway without needing to hide your book inside the latest issue of The Economist.

The Improbability of Love by Hannah Rothschild: Art dealers and lost masterpieces; maybe not a typical romance, but I am reading this one next.

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes: This could be cross-posted in A, since I’ve never read anything by her, but I’ve been seeing this author’s books everywhere, so I think it’s time to check her out.

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green: I know – I’m behind the times, and it should really go under T for Tear-jerkers, but I love his other books so I’m thinking this is a must-read.

T = Thriller

Since it’s unlikely that I’ll be venturing outside for exercise in the -24C weather we are currently experiencing in Toronto, I need something to get my heart-rate up. (Although I suppose the bodice-rippers might work on that score as well…)

The Girl with all the Gifts by M.R. Carey: This is another book I’ve seen recommended all over the place. It’s about a girl with special powers, and special powers are my particular weakness.

Liar by Justine Larbalestier: A YA thriller with an unreliable narrator who is a compulsive liar. I can’t wait for this one. Or can I?

Slade House by David Mitchell: I’m not sure if this is technically a Thriller, but it has some haunted house aspects to it, it’s related to The Bone Clocks, which I loved, and it is David Mitchell, so I’m putting it on the list.

Have you set your reading goals for the year? Let me know what’s on your list!


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