Read books. Mostly backlist. Not too much. (2021 goals)

Let me begin by apologizing for using “much” where I should have used “many,” but it’s a play on Michael Pollan’s “Eat food. Mostly Plants. Not too much.” thing, so I’m letting it go.

And yes, Pollan’s advice would probably make a better 2021 goal for me, but alas, this isn’t a food blog.

Here are my plans for 2021, a little more than 10% of the way through.

Read books

Self explanatory? This of course includes all manner of “book.” I don’t have much occaision to listen to audio these days, but I’ll count that if I do. Kindle ebooks, Libby ebooks, library books, Little Free Library books, books on my shelves, you get the idea. I’m not limiting myself in terms of buying new books, though some of my other plans might put some natural limits on that…

I should note that I’m still reading daily and weekly papers and plan to continue. And I read plenty of blog posts, I still get Bookforum and The Happy Reader, and read the odd article elsewhere The only kind of reading I don’t want to prioritize is posts (tweets) which I’m not taking a break from… yet. Maybe for Lent?

Mostly backlist

I had an idea of reading older books this year. Not classics, per se, and not just reading all the 2019 and 2020 stuff I didn’t get to yet. Just a little less of the moment. Some readers get excited when art imitates life, like, right away (e.g. various plague novels that happened to come out in 2020) but I still think it’s a bit too soon for 9/11 novels, let alone COVID, or god help us, Trump novels. This stuff needs time to simmer!

So I’m going to read mostly pre-millenium novels. Pre-9/11, pre-web 2.0, pre-adult me. At least I won’t get annoyed when authors refuse to reckon with technology. Maybe it’ll make me feel better.

Exceptions? I’ve got a few! New Franzen drops in October and you better believe I’ll be reading that. I have a bunch of library holds from last year that are coming in, some Booker longlisters and what not. And I made an exception for Fake Accounts by Lauren Oyler, which seems like maybe it can reckon with today’s technology.

Not too much

This one’s less of a goal, and more of a grim reality. I’ve read one book in 2021. If this trend continues, well… see above, we’re ten percent through the year. True, I’m 500ish pages into two big novels right now, the equivilent of four or five of your standard 225-page, wide-margined literary novels, but still. It’s not feeling like a banner reading year. Luckily I don’t do Goodreads goals.

So this one’s more about taking the pressure off even more, if that’s possible. Or maybe having different goals, ones you can’t just power through. There’s a certain amount of brute force in voracious reading and it really doesn’t appeal right now. A writing goal perhaps?

I’ve already read many of your 2021 goals, but let me know what you think of mine.



  1. Elle

    Your reading goals are almost identical to mine, and I think what you say about brute-forcing voracious reading really rings true with me. I want to savour and ponder a lot more now than I have for a long time. And yes, backlist!

  2. Rebecca Foster

    I got your Pollan reference right away 🙂 I’m all for a balance of new and backlist. I can’t bear to miss out on the big current-year releases that draw me, but the backlist reads are so often more memorable.

    • lauratfrey

      I wonder how hung up I’ll get. I already put Fake Accounts on hold, and I’m already looking at a few 2000 or 2001 books and thinking, well, close enough. Gonna be kind to myself though!

  3. annelogan17

    I love and appreciate all these goals. And although this isn’t a food blog, I’m trying to eat less meat and more veggies too! Plus, it’s cheaper and faster to cook for my family that way LOL

    I’m excited for you to read the new Franzen. I’m reading the new David Sedaris (who is my fav writer), which is really just a ‘best of’ compilation, but I love his writing so much it still feels like an event for me.

  4. Pingback: 2021 Year in review | Reading in Bed

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