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Your Personal Reading Challenge

Your Personal Reading Challenge

Are you using the Goodreads app? I’ve written before about Goodreads and how it can be used for genealogy in my blog post "Try Goodreads for Genealogy Inspiration." If you're unfamiliar with Goodreads, their website proclaims that "Goodreads is the world’s largest site for readers and book recommendations. Our mission is to help people find and share books they love.”[1]

I started using the app a few years ago, and it has helped me keep better track of what I want to read and what I have read (no more random pieces of paper with scribbled book titles that I quickly misplace or can’t read!).

Readers can use Goodreads to find new books, keep lists of books to read, and see what friends are reading. An annual Goodreads feature is their Reading Challenge. According to their website, the 2020 Reading Challenge included 5,347,910 readers whose goal was to read an average of 61 books.[2]

To participate in the Challenge, readers simply set a goal for books read in the year. As you read and update Goodreads, the app keeps track of your goal. Goodreads will show not only how many books you’ve read but whether you are behind or ahead of schedule. If you have “friended” others on Goodreads, you can also monitor their challenge and see how many books they have read by clicking on the Friend's Challenges button.

Goodreads 2020 Challenge 3

About a week ago, Goodreads sent me a notification titled “How is your 2020 year in books looking? See your personalized reading stats.” This notification showed me how many pages and books I’ve read and included some stats about those books such as the shortest book, the longest, and the most and least popular books. It also contained a graphic with the book covers of what I read.

Goodreads 2020 Challenge 2
My 2020 reading goal was 50 books. As I write this, I have read 45 books and most likely won't reach 50 for the year. Some of my friends read 100+ books, while others read less than 10. Some Goodreads users had a goal of reading just a single book in 2020. But you know what? This is one goal that you can feel good about no matter how many books you read. The purpose is to read.

Goodreads 2020 Challenge 1

The Reading Challenge helps us meet our genealogy learning goals. Reading is essential for genealogists to help us gain methodology skills, learn history, and better understand our ancestor's world. 

2021 is here, and on January 1st I will be setting a new Reading Challenge goal of 50 books. Whether I achieve it or not, I know the process will be worthwhile.

What are you reading? What did you read in 2020? Please share with us in the comments below.

Happy New Year!


[1] “About Goodreads,” Goodreads ( accessed 28 December 2020).

[2] “2020 Reading Challenge,” Goodreads ( accessed 28 December 2020).


Gena Philibert-Ortega is an author, instructor, and researcher. She blogs at Gena's Genealogy and Food.Family.Ephemera. You can find her presentations on the Legacy Family Tree Webinars website.



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I'm definitely going to get through all the Morton Farrier mysteries! As to self-improvement, I plan to at least USE Evidence Explained more, and dive back into John Grenham's wonderful books!

I meant to add to my previous comment that I'm also using Goodreads. My goal is a humble 24 books. (I do count my audiobooks. The Morton Farrier narrator is very good!)

I LOVE Goodreads and wish it had been around many years before, as I've lost track of all the books I've read over my lifetime! It's an amazing community as well.

Last year (2020) I committed to reading 52 books, i.e., on average one a week, but thanks to COVID, I ended up reading 104! Yes, I doubled my commitment with about a week to spare. Were they all Pulitzer Prize winners? Of course not. Regardless, I enjoyed most of them and am better for having read them. I also get a lot out of reading the reviews from other readers, sometimes discovering something I missed, which gives me cause to go back and reread sections to see if I agree or disagree.

Thank you, Gena, for encouraging others to read!

Not only is GoodReads a great place to keep track of the books you've read and those you hope to read someday, it's a wonderful community to connect with avid readers with reading interests that match yours, or maybe those that do not. It's always wonderful to read a fantastic review of a book out of your genre tastes, one that a friend has recommended highly which encourages you to try something new.

I've been using GoodReads for many years. Some of my friends have left due to ownership of the site. I still enjoy it and am not leaving anytime soon.

If you're seeking a new friend on this platform, I am registered by the name on this comment.

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