2016 best laid plans go awry

The story of my 2016

Around this time last year I went on record with this statement about my goals for 2016.

2016 is going to be all about completion. ….

I plan to make it a year where I finish at least one of these projects: the Booker prize, Classics Club project and my World of Literature Project.

I deliberately avoided making definitive reading plans knowing how useless I proved to be in past years in sticking to them. Instead I opted for something more general thinking it would give me more flexibility and increase the chances of success.

Guess how I did on this goal?

You got it in one. It was a complete fail. Not a near miss or even a creditable effort. Not only didn’t I finish one of those three projects I barely made any inroads into the Classics Club list, reading just one ‘classic’ in the entire year (Mrs Dalloway) which leaves me with 22 still to read to achieve the goal of 50 classics by August 2017. It’s unlikely to happen….

I fared slightly better with my intention of reading more books by authors outside the western canon – 4 new countries were ‘visited’ in 2016 which takes my total to 35. Not a stellar performance but at least its going in the right direction.

Star billing goes to the Booker Prize project however where I managed to read a further 7 of the winning titles. Just 15 more to go now …

So why didn’t I achieve any part of this plan?


a) I was too ambitious  or

b) I spread my efforts too broadly and would have done better being more focused or

c) I picked the wrong goals or

d) I am really bad at sticking to plans and get easily distracted.

Judging by some articles I’ve read recently about how to be effective at setting and achieving goals the issue was really a combination of b) and d).  I got distracted by the long and short lists for the 2016 Booker prize so instead of reading previous winners I became too engrossed in who might win next. I also got carried away with Net Galley.  Some lessons here that are influencing my 2017 goals. What are they you wonder? I shall leave you in suspense for a few more days….


About BookerTalk

What do you need to know about me? 1. I'm from Wales which is one of the countries in the UK and must never be confused with England. 2. My life has always revolved around the written and spoken word. I worked as a journalist for nine years then in international corporate communications 3. My tastes in books are eclectic. I love realism and hate science fiction and science fantasy. 4. I am trying to broaden my reading horizons geographically by reading more books in translation

Posted on January 2, 2017, in Bookends and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 31 Comments.

  1. Reading is the least of my issues! That is something that I love to do and will prioritize above many other activities. However, pretty much everything else from exercising and cleaning, to phone habits and cooking meals are more challenging and I often seek the assistance of a to-do list and some goals. Please take a look at this article if you get a chance and let me know what you think. Thanks! https://expecttheexceptional.wordpress.com/2017/04/20/setting-and-achieving-goals/

  2. I’m really bad at sticking to goals when it comes to reading too – although perhaps that is a reaction to being far too focussed on the goal in other areas of my life. However 2017 turns out in terms of the goals, I hope enjoy your reads

  3. Heh, thing with blogging about your goals means you leave evidence and it always comes back to haunt in my opinion. I hope 2017 is off to a good start!

    • I suppose I could always delete the ‘guilty’ post…..obliterate the evidence as it were

      • You’d have to do it and not tell anyone about it all though and you have to be sure it isn’t referenced anywhere else, like here. In the end I suspect it would be more trouble than it’s worth 🙂

        • To say nothing of the fact that the books remaining in the two projects’ stacks would probably squeal and wriggle on the shelves in protest, insisting that they not be overlooked, their unread-ness of primary concern to them, at least. The delete key isn’t much of a solution after all unfortunately. Heheh Best of luck with the reading year ahead, which will hold many good reads, I’m sure!

        • you will just have to learn not to buy such uppity books.

  4. I enjoy diversions and rarely make much by way of plans, but this is in a nutshell why I stopped taking review copies from Netgalley. I found that what came up for review was driving my reading rather than what appealed – somebody else’s choices rather than my own.

    • i think I also didnt give enough consideration before pushing the ‘request’ button so ended up feeling forced to read books that were not as appealing as what I had already on my shelves

  5. Not a fail if you read some good books 🙂

  6. Wow – you’ve read nearly all the Bookers! Do you have a list of the ones you haven’t done yet?

  7. My only challenge set is to read a book a week, so I create the little widget on Goodreads to keep track, but then I leave myself free to be influenced and attracted by both my own book shelf, the library, Netgalley (though very cautiously) and by where the books I read lead me. I don’t make lists, as for me they can remove the excitement of anticipation, although in August I do make a collection of books by women in translation and do my best to only read from that pile.

    My big question is though, did you enjoy your reading journey of 2016, you filed the planned journey, but did you enjoy and find pleasure in the alternate route?

    • Yes I did enjoy a lot of what I read last year – some of the most enjoyable were ones I hadnt planned to read but they were on the shelf and just seemed right at that moment. So much to be said for the unplanned approach that you take

  8. I don’t know if it would have been better to stick to narrow your focus. That would mean only reading Booker winners, or classics, or world lit. I think it would have made a joyful reading experience a little predictable or boring, maybe?

    The nice thing about not completing challenges is you get to look forward to completing them in the new year 🙂

  9. I’ve noticed more than one article about the prevalence of resolutions not kept and goals not achieved, and I have come to the conclusion that there is a deep psychological divide between people who do, and people who don’t. I don’t know if Myers-Briggs covered this in their analysis of personality types, but if they didn’t I’ll do it for them: SJs make reading plans and doggedly keep them missing out on all kinds of delights en route; and NPs flit like butterflies from one fascinating thing to another and are unlikely to finish a plan even if they feel pressured into making one and fully intend to complete it.
    Yes, I am an INTP a.k.a. an ‘architect’ and we are constitutionally incapable of completing plans and unlikely to be impressed by other people who do. (Architects, after all, do not actually build the houses they envisage and they do not care where the light switches are!) But the world needs us because we inspire others to finish the ideas we have!

  10. …and this is why I don’t make reading plans, lol. Happy reading in 2017.

  11. Oh, I’m also very bad at reading certain kind of books, like classics, books from abroad, etc., so I understand your feelings. But anyway, did you enjoy the books you read? I think that’s more important! Did they make you think? Did you find friends in some characters? That’s what really matters about reading!
    Don’t be so hard – all those booker prizes and classics are waiting for you to be read whenever you decide it’s their time 😉
    Happy new year!!

  12. The few plans I made last year went out of the window, and I’m very behind with reading the Penguin Modern Poets and Dorothy Richardson’s Pilgrimage, so I sympathise. For me, it’s the constant distractions and changes of reading mood which is why I’m planning to have no planes next year!

  13. Still, if the diversions are enjoyable….

  14. Good luck with your plans, but don’t be too hard on yourself.

  15. Wait…did I write this post? You described exactly how my plans, my reading, went in 2016: not well. I did not even read yet for my own (!) Japanese Literature Challenge. I’m so disappointed in myself, yet, we do not want to make our joy a job. I think I will resist from challenges in 2017, and only make a concerted effort to blog and comment more, to read what I choose. Thank you for being patient with me in 2016, and here’s to lots of joy in 2017!!

    • Thats so funny that you didnt even do your own challenge. I know we get frustrated when we miss our goals etc but in reality does it matter? Probably not much….

  16. I get derailed frequently. Such is life …

  17. I am familiar with the malady of “best laid plans.” Slowly I am learning not to make any…LOL. Or at least to make my goals achievable. Realistic.

    Good luck!

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