How to set a New Year’s reading intention

How to set a New Year’s reading intention

In Expert Tips, For the Love of Reading by Kelsey Fritts

How to set a New Year’s reading intention

Many of us ring in the New Year excited about a fresh start and ready to tackle a new challenge. Often we set resolutions to become more organized, get more exercise, lose weight, eat more vegetables, save more money, or something else equally predictable. This year, what if we make a plan to excite our inner bookworm? Enter: the New Year’s reading intention.

What is a reading intention? 

First, let’s clarify the difference between a goal, a resolution, and an intention.

  • A goal is an outcome you want to achieve. Maybe your reading goal for next year is to read 12 books (or 30, or 50 — don’t let us hold you back).
  • A resolution is a promise to do something differently. Maybe your New Year’s resolution is to read more books and watch less TV, or read more nonfiction than fiction books, or listen to audiobooks on your morning walk.
  • An intention is a decision on where you want to go and your plan to get there. In other words, the actions you intend to take to get the experience, feeling, or outcome you want. For example, your reading intention might be to make reading a regular part of your life (what you want) by reading for 10 minutes every night before bed (how you plan to get there).

When you define your reading intention for the new year, you’re deciding what you want to do and how you want to do it.

Why set a reading intention? 

While goals are great, they’re often outside of our control. If your life suddenly becomes wildly busy, you might struggle to hit your reading goal. This can be disappointing, even if there are extenuating circumstances. 

Resolutions, on the other hand, can be difficult to stick to. Sometimes they’re too vague, or too ambitious, or too stressful. (This explains why many of us set the same resolution year after year.)

Intentions, like goals and resolutions, are often fueled by something we desire in our lives — but they focus on our behaviors and how we want to show up in the world on a regular basis. Our behaviors are within our control. Every time we successfully engage in our intended reading behavior, we feel empowered, fulfilled, and motivated to keep going and grab the next book. Plus, we can set intentions that help us achieve our overarching reading goals.

How do you set a reading intention?

The best part about setting a reading intention is that it’s not complicated! You just need to decide on two things:

  • What you want to get out of your reading this year.
  • What action(s) you want to take on a regular basis to help you get there.

Imagine that this year, you really want to explore some new genres. More specifically, you want to read books in 12 different genres — one genre per month. You choose your genres, and then you take it one step further and pick a book for each month from your to-be-read list.

Now decide what regular action you want to take that aligns with your intention. You could read for 10 minutes before bed every night, read five pages on the subway every morning, listen to your audiobook when you’re stuck in traffic, or keep your ereader in your bag so you can sneak in a few minutes of reading on your lunch break.

The key is to pick a plan that is realistic, doable, enjoyable, and lets you take action on a regular basis. This way, you won’t get burned out or frustrated, and you’ll enjoy building a reading habit.

To summarize this intention: This year, I will explore new book genres by selecting books from my genre-specific to-be-read list every month and listening to the audiobooks on my morning commute. 

Boom! Reading intention set. Now all that’s left is the fun part — reading!

Keep in mind, even if you don’t finish all 12 genres or you decide to swap books out along the way, you’re still fulfilling your reading intention by showing up and taking action on a regular basis.

Spend a few minutes today setting your own intention and prepare to enjoy all the enriching, entertaining, and inspiring books to come this year.


About the Author: Kelsey Fritts

Kelsey is a writer, editor, anthropologist, and bookworm. She's also the author of two young adult fantasy novels. When she's not out exploring in nature or playing with her ridiculously spoiled dog, you can find Kelsey curled up with a mug of hot cocoa and a novel—likely one by Laini Taylor, Leigh Bardugo, N.K. Jemisin, Margaret Atwood, or Ursula K. Le Guin.