Reading Goals and Challenges: Mid-Year Check In 2021

Hello, dear reader friends! Since it’s already mid-July (how did that happen?!), I thought it would be a good idea to check in on my reading goals and challenges. My gut feeling is telling me I have fallen behind on some of them and I may need a course correction, but cold numbers speak louder than fancy words. So here’s where I stand on my reading goals, how I am going to adapt during the second half of 2021 and which challenges I may be dropping or loosening up a bit.

Goodreads Reading Goal

I’m doing quite well on this one, at currently 7 books ahead of schedule. Just like last year, reading novelettes, novellas, and graphic novels for the Hugo Awards has pushed me ahead and there’s still some of those left for me to read. So I should have a buffer for a hypothetical reading slump or some big books that take me ages to finish.

I’m not gonna lie, if I could read 150 books per year I would be ecstatic but 100 is a fine goal that I will be happy to achieve. Considering some of the chonkers I’ve read (hello, Stormlight Archive re-read), I’m even a little proud.


Beat the Backlist Challenge

This is the only offical reading challenge I’m participating in this year but I’m not taking it super seriously. Mostly I just read whatever I would anyway and see if the book happens to fit one of the prompts. It does push me to pick up older books, however, and for that I already consider the challenge a win.

  • Prompts fulfilled: 18/52
  • Bingo: almost, but not yet

Reading the Hugo Awards

This is a two-part challenge, actually, because on the one hand, I want to read past Hugo Award winners and finalists, but on the other, more pressing, hand, I need to read this year’s finalists in order to rank them on my ballot. As this is the first year with a lot of time to catch up on the nominated works(WorldCon being in December instead of August for Covid reasons), my plans have become more ambitious. Meaning I want to read more complete categories than I usually would be able to. Here’s my current status:

  • Best Novel: 4/6
  • Best Novella: 6/6
  • Best Novelette: 5/6
  • Best Short Story: 6/6
  • Best Graphic Novel: 4/6
  • Lodestar: 6/6
  • Astounding: 2/6
  • Best Series:
    • Daevabad: 2/3
    • Murderbot: 5/6
    • Interdependency: 1/3
    • Lady Astronaut: 1/3
    • Poppy War: 1/3
    • October Daye: 3/14

Technically, I still need to read 3 books to be fully caught up on Best Novel because I’ve only read the first in Kowal’s Lady Astronaut series and the third volume is nominated for Best Novel. But the series as a whole being a Best Series finalist means that I’ll be able to finish two categories in one go.

I have no plans of finishing the entire Toby Daye series but a couple more volumes can definitely be done.
I’m actually caught up on the nominated Murderbot books but by now there’s another novella out which I want to read. Because Murderbot.

And I’m not sure I should really do it but I’m debating a Poppy War re-read before I finish the rest of the trilogy. I have forgotten so many details and I know the series will destroy me anyway, so why not make it a full trilogy of emotional destruction?

The second part of this challenge is to read a few past Hugo winners or finalists. I had a handful picked out at the beginning of the year but I haven’t done too well so far. I hope I can do two more this year.

Past Hugo winners/finalists read: 1

I just bought the Graphic Audio adaptation of C. J. Cherryh’s Downbelow Station and I’m very much looking forward to that. My second Hugo winner will either bei Connie Willis’ To Say Nothing of the Dog or A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller.


Read More Black Authors

I am quite, quite behind on this one and I blame Brandon Sanderson. No, not like that, the poor guy didn’t do anything. It’s just that my Stormlight Archive re-read (or rather: re-listen) has taken up a lot of time that would have otherwise gone to other audiobooks. I’m not saying all of those books would necessarily have been written by Black authors but I have a few favorite Black writers who tend to get incredible audiobook narrators, so chances are I would have listened to at least a couple of them instead of the incredibly long Stormlight Archive. Either way, this is why we’re checking in on our goals, so we can still adjust and reach our goals by the end of the year.

Books by Black authors read: 6/20

The Hugo Award finalists are also not helping a lot because this year, there aren’t many Black authors on the ballot (at least not ones whose books I haven’t read yet) and a large percentage of my yearly reading is for the Hugo Awards.

I am currently reading the new Rivers Solomon book (so amazing!) and I can’t wait to get into P. Djèlí Clark’s Master of Jinn but I want to do better in general during the second half of the year. In addition to these 6 books by Black authors, I have read another 10 by non-Black Authors of Color, so my reading is at least somewhat diverse. But still, lots of room for improvement.


New Releases

I’m doing okay on this one. There are still plenty of novels that came out this year (or are still coming out) that I want to read before nominating for next year’s Hugos, but I have already discovered some favorites as well as some others I can safely ignore for my ballot.

2021 releases read: 10/??

Favorites: The Past is Red by Catherynne M. Valente, The Ones We’re Meant to Find by Joan He, All the Murmuring Bones by Angela Slatter. Unsurprisingly, these are all authors who have previously written books that ended up being favorites. I wouldn’t mind a new favorite author discovery now and again. Just sayin’.


Five Star Predictions ★★★★★

Again, I’m doing alright. Not only have I read almost all the books on this list, I also guessed pretty decently. Sure, one of my predictions ended up getting 1.5 stars only so… that was a miss. But the others ranged from very good to excellent.

Alechia Dow – The Sound of StarsRead1.5 stars
Everina Maxwell – Winter’s OrbitRead3.5 stars
Vonda N. McIntyre – DreamsnakeRead4.5 stars
Catherynne M. Valente – The Past is RedRead5 stars
Hannah Whitten – For the WolfNot Read
Fonda Lee – Jade LegacyNot Read

The books actually got better in the order that I read them. I’m wondering now why I put For the Wolf on that list instead of The Wolf and the Woodsman by Ava Reid but hey, I hope they both end up being five star books. Jade Legacy will of course blow my socks off, I have no doubt about it.


I guess things could be worse. I am pretty disappointed that my Black author reading challenge is going rather poorly but while it’s not an excuse, the Hugo Awards and my Stormlight Archive re-listen at least serve as a sort of explanation for it. The year is far from over though and I have a ridiculous amount of exciting books by Black authors on my TBR. I will just have to get to them sooner rather than later.

How are you doing on your reading goals? Do you even set yourself goals? Are you participating in any challenges (and can you recommend any)?

3 thoughts on “Reading Goals and Challenges: Mid-Year Check In 2021

  1. JonBob says:

    Always wowed by your commitment to reading all the Hugo nominations! Glad it’s going well 😀 I’m not a big goals person, it’s not personally how I enjoy structuring my reading. The less structure the better in fact lol. What is it about planning your reading that appeals to you, it always intrigues me?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dina says:

      I honestly don’t know. I think making lists and checking off things I’ve accomplished just gives me warm and happy feelings. 😊
      I do have phases when I throw all plans overboard and just read whatever, though. Sometimes you gotta give in to the mood. Reading should always be fun first.

      Liked by 1 person

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