I created my goodreads account 10 years ago, in January 2013.

It went unused for 2 years, when I decided to join a dear friend in the 2015 reading challenge.

My reasons for first participating and my reasons for continuing are different. My perspective towards reading has shifted and transformed throughout the years. I attempted to dissect my mind and provide an overview.

2015 — 76/52

2015 was a strange year. I hated my 1st year of university and dropped out before finishing the semester. Reading replaced studying. While my future hung above the clouds, I clung to books for life.

52 felt like a reasonable goal. One book every week.

I was working part-time and had no classes to occupy my time. I did not think it would be easy, but I was willing to make an effort.

I had never tracked my reading and filled with apprehension.

I surprised myself by exceeding target. I had a lot of feelings to process and a lot of spare time. The stories I discovered that year ring like clear bells in my mind. The world knew I needed a powerful escape. Their music continue to affect me in 2023.


The Princess Bride by William Goldman, Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman, The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo, Airman by Eoin Colfer

Inkworld trilogy by Cornelia Funke (Inkheart, Inkspell, Inkdeath), His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman (The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife, The Amber Spyglass), The Magicians trilogy by Lev Grossman (The Magicians, The Magician King, The Magician’s Land), The Abhorsen series by Garth Nix (Sabriel, Lirael, Abhorsen)

2016 — 53/74

In 2016, I moved away from home. I adopted a cat. I started studying again. It was my first time living and learning in a different language. It was my first time living as an adult. It was a lot.

I was overly ambitious with my reading challenge.

I determined my goal while looking at the previous year’s result, without considering how much my life had changed. As a result, I worked harder and was less fulfilled.

I didn’t reach my goal, but I was still proud. It was a difficult year.

I read as much as I could.


Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov, Kim’s Convenience by Ins Choi, When Marnie Was There by Joan G. Robinson

Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan (The Eye of the World, The Great Hunt, A Dragon Reborn, The Shadow Rising), Peggy Sue et les fantômes series by Brussolo (Le jour du chien bleu, Le Sommeil du Démon), A Series of Unforunate Events by Lemony Snicket (all 13 books), The Keys to the Kingdom by Garth Nix (all 7 books)

2017 — 35/52

2017 was a busy, scholarly year. Reading had lost its spark and I knew I had to ease the pressure. I wanted to enjoy myself, not push myself… but what did that look like? I had grown so competitive towards myself.

I set my goal at 52, unsure how many books I would really read. It was a looser goal than previous years. I was less worried about the amount of books and more about the quality of my experience. I took a break from long series and children’s literature (which I used to boost my numbers the previous year).

I stuck to my assigned readings for some time. I found comfort in stand-alones and discovered graphic novels over the Winter break. They granted respite from the heaviness on my syllabi. Reading became relaxing once more.

I did not reach my goal in 2017, but I was happy.


Beloved by Toni Morrison, The Walled Garden by Michael Dean, SAGA by Brian K. Vaughan & Fiona Staples (vol.1 to 6), Elle by Douglas Glover, Hiroshima mon amour by Marguerite Duras, L’existentialisme est un humanisme by Jean-Paul Sartre, The Sound of the World by Heart by Giacomo Keison Bevilacqua, Elantris by Brandon Sanderson

2018 — 59/52

2018 is when I fell in love with academia. I collaborated on projects with my favourite roommate (Samuelle) and grew close to my professors. Learning became fulfilling (instead of frustrating).

I set my goal at 52 again. I reread some old favourites, but they failed to make my heart sing. This helped me realize how much I had changed, how much I had grown.

I began to love my assigned readings.

3 spectacular professors (Janine Rogers, Terrence Craig & Mark Lee) shaped my mind into something new. They helped me discover authors and genres I would obsess over. I began jotting down every title that poured from their mouths, not wanting to waste a single drop. Their words still echo through mine and I’m grateful our paths crossed.


Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver, The Lives of a Cell by Lewis Thomas, A Scientific Romance by Ronald Wright, Perfume by Patrick Süskind, The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, Are You My Mother? by Alison Bechdel, Métaphysique des tubes by Amélie Nothomb, La nostalgie heureuse by Amélie Nothomb, Ni d’Ève ni d’Adam by Amélie Nothomb, The Faerie Queene Book 1 by Edmund Spenser, The Chronicles of the Black Company by Glen Cook (book 1 to 5),

2019 — 71/67

2019 was my last year at university. I was sad and apprehensive. I could not imagine a world in which I was not a student anymore. This is the year I joined the writing community on instagram.

I don’t remember why I picked 67 as a goal, but it worked.

Much like the previous years, a lot of my favourite books were assigned readings. Dr. Craig opened a graphic novel literature class at our university before retiring and Dr. Narayana added herself to the list of professors who shaped my mind. I enjoyed them as much as I could, while it was still possible.

The end of the year was a difficult time, during which I reported my best friend missing to the police. I supported his parents until he was found, but lacked support for myself. I was working night shifts while finishing classes, but my emotions spiralled out of control.

My life was about to change.


Putain by Nelly Arcan, The Word for World is Forest by Ursula K. Le Guin, Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert, Poil de Carotte by Jules Renard, Maiba by Soaba, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Murakami, The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver, Claudine à l’école by Colette, Chéri by Colette, La fin de chéri by Colette, The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. & E.B. White

Palestine by Joe Sacco, Minerve by David Turgeon, Hark! A Vagrant by Kate Beaton, Watchmen by Alan Moore, Making Comics by Scott McCloud, The Arab of the Future series by Riad Sattouf (vol. 1 to 3), SAGA by Brian K. Vaughan & Fiona Staples (vol. 7 to 9)

2020 — 120/52

2020 was a bad year for mental health. The previous year had left me bruised and battered. Doctors gave me medical leave and put me a waiting list for psychiatric treatment. They could do nothing more.

I couldn’t afford to stay on leave forever, so I returned to work before receiving help. The company took advantage of my manic state to schedule me overtime, which worsened my health. I lost all desire to sleep. I became psychotic. I began hallucinating. I clung to reading and writing to make me feel safe. Books were my only medicine.

In September, I read one book every day.

In October, my best friend cut me out of his life. I hope he’s well.

In November, I wrote 50,000 words and won NaNoWriMo for the first time.

In December, I finally got help.

I went to the hospital again, encouraged by friends who had grown concerned. There was no one qualified to handle my condition, but they paid for my transport to the next city. There, I found a therapist & psychiatrist. I began taking medication. I began to feel better.


The Ice Dragon by George R.R. Martin, A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett, A Curious Tale of the In-Between by Lauren DeStefano, The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller, Circe by Madeline Miller, Lavinia by Ursula K. Le Guinn,

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy, To The Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf, The Edible Woman by Margaret Atwood, LaRose by Louise Erdrich, Radial Symmetry by Katherine Larson, Ikigai by Hector Garcia Puigcerver, The Pillow Book by Sei Shonagon, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari, Peterson Field Guide to Moths of Northeastern North America by David Beadle

Garden In The Sands by Ellie Mitten, Jewel of Gazanté by Mab Morris, Night of a Hundred Moons and Other Poems by Mab Morris, The Guardian by A.T. Guduay

When Women Were Warriors by Catherine M. Wilson (The Warrior’s Path, A Journey of the Heart, A Hero’s Tale), Four Kingdoms series by Jasmine Young (Stormfire), The Earthsea Cycle by Ursula Le Guin (A Wizard of Earthsea, The Tombs of Atuan, The Daughter of Odren)

2021 — 60/100

In 2021, I repeated the same mistake as 2016: I was overly ambitious. I looked at the previous year’s success and got starry eyed. I didn’t consider my life had changed once more.

It took some time to grow used to life without my best friend. It took even longer to stop blaming myself for the burdens I imposed on him.

I healed, slowly and surely.

We found an apartment where I could have my own office. I involved myself in the writing community and began reading more self-published books. I found new friends and ways to discuss literature.

I didn’t reach my goal, but I was unreasonable in setting it so high.


Norwegian Wood by Haruhi Murakami, Three Day Road by Joseph Boyden, Ashes by Iona Wayland, A Stranger’s Tale by Nataša Xerri, Equal of the Sun by Anita Amirrezvani, Tales from Maliseet Country by Philip S. LeSourd, Defying Maliseet Language Death by Bernard C. Perley, Four Kingdoms series by Jasmine Young (Queen of Diamonds)

2022 — 5/60

2022 granted me tranquility. I began working from home and adopted a bird. I took a break from social media. I started a group with some writing friends.

I barely thought about my reading challenge. It was not important.

A similar approach had propelled me to great lengths in previous years, but distress had fled. I had less need for escapism.

I read here and there, without rush or worry.


Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir.

2023 — ?/?

This brings us to this year. How to choose my reading goal?

A year’s worth cannot be determined by the amount of books read alone. Does it really matter, what the number is?

I set the goal at 56 (my favourite number), because it’s a nice number.

5 responses to “GOODREADS CHALLENGE”

  1. Lebogang Shazzygal Malatji Avatar

    Good reads challenges are always amazing

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ReadRenard Avatar

      Are you participating in it as well? How do you like setting your goals?


  2. Dan Avatar

    Thanks for sharing❤️

    I was already looking forward to staying up to date with your reading blog, but I was pleasantly surprised by this post. Looking back and reflecting on your reading journey in the context of your life at the time is a really nice idea.

    I know there have been painful moments – again, you did not need to share this but I’m glad you felt you could, thank you – but hopefully you’ve found this revealing and cathartic.

    I found it interesting to get a sense of how your relationship with reading has evolved over time – at times an escape and at others nourishment, for example – but has always been present in some form. It’s not about the numbers, as you said, but it seems there were times where those numbers were a comfort and times where they felt like a weight. That’s perfectly understandable❤️

    I’m sorry to hear how difficult 2020 was for you. It can be particularly difficult to come to terms with relationships that have ended, for one reason or another, where things might feel unresolved. I’m glad you were able to finally get some help – again, it’s an incredibly brave and powerful thing to reflect on your mental well-being and recognise you need help.

    December 2020 was the year I met you through a mutual friend’s Zoom hangout. When I reflect on my own feelings at that time, I think I also wasn’t in a great place and joining that call was well outside my comfort zone. However, I’m really glad I did since you both made me feel welcome and my presence appreciated. I’m glad we’ve stayed in touch but whatever had come of it, I have fond memories of that first meeting with you😊

    I really appreciate and have enjoyed reading this post. There are some books and series I recognise and many I don’t. It’s also made me think of things I read when I was younger that I’ve not even considered these days, like all the Terry Pratchett books I read or the Black Magician Trilogy by Judi Canavan. Stories that stuck with me.

    I’ve never been the prolific reader Lizzie is, but in my twenties I did read regularly. That dried up in my 30s and it’s only now, as I’m about to stumble into my 40s (😱), that I’ve been bitten by the bug again.

    I have the humblest of humble goals of 12 books this year. Last year I read 5 and the year before that 1. However, I’m trying to be more intentional with my reading. Also, reading mainly for pleasure rather than work or study like previous years. Im enjoying reading again and I take that as a good sign. I’m halfway through my second book of the year – Legend and Lattes by Travis Baldree – and really enjoying myself.

    I hope 2023 shapes up to be a good year for you, wherever the pages take you❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ReadRenard Avatar

      I’m glad you appreciated reading through it! Halfway through, I began to wonder what I was doing (haha) but I persevered and remembered a lot of memories. Choosing how much detail to include was difficult.

      I remember that zoom hangout very well 🙂 I was alone on New Years and missed my family. Joining the call was also outside my comfort zone, but I’m very glad I did. I reminisced about it with my partner recently, telling him it was a little like group therapy and we each took our time to choose a word/lesson to represent our year. Mine was “boundaries” because better boundaries would have helped me keep my best friend. I wanted to ensure I remembered.

      Sometimes, stories that stick with you are scary to reread because they don’t hit the spot anymore. As a rule of thumb I wait 5+ years between reading attempts to ensure I come into it with a new perspective, but sometimes that new perspective ruins whatever worked. There’s some stories I avoid rereading because I’m aware it will tarnish the initial sacred experience/memory. While I was writing down my favourites for each year I kept thinking “would this be a favourite if I read it now? probably not. do I wish to reread this? absolutely not. do I adore this story and consider it a favourite for life? absolutely.”

      I’m only 26 (my golden year! I turned 26 on the 26), so I have time to slow down in my 30s! My parents were terrified to enter their 40s, but they’re loving that decade. More money to do the things they love.

      12 books is a solid goal. It helps when you read different genres and you’re reading what you enjoy. Last year, I struggled to enjoy reading anything at all. My favourite reading experiences were beta-reading my friend’s WIPs, but there was no way to reflect those in my goodreads challenge. I’ll be so happy when those books are someday published and I can officially review them.

      So far, 2023 is pretty chaotic… but sometimes storms force you in uncharted waters worth exploring. Books float, so it will be a good year as long as I’m still reading & writing!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Dan Avatar

        ‘Group therapy’ is very accurate😂

        You’ve reminded me that my word in that meeting was “forgiveness”, particularly towards myself for not finding myself where I thought I’d be, but also for relationships that ended despite my best intentions.

        “Boundaries” would be a good word for me this year. I made last year difficult for myself by not setting healthy boundaries. For every positive changes, there were double the number of stumbles.

        This year has started off in much the same way and I’m already feeling that those familiar patterns are not healthy for me. I’m hoping to make more balance happen this year.

        It’s extremely rare that I re-read books. I suppose in that way those stories remain fixed in time – at least the memorable ones anyway – and so can reflect on them when I want to.

        Still, my worldview, priorities and values have changed a lot since I was younger. I think I would look at some stories with more of a critical lens, were I to re-read them again now.

        Liked by 1 person

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