Summer and the Folly of Overplanning

By Brittney Reed-Saltz

I’m the kind of reader who likes to feel as though I’m accomplishing something with my reading. I like goals. I like crossing items off of to-do lists. I like adding entries to my personal reading log. I like completing challenges. And planning? Oh boy, do I love planning.

There is no season that makes me want to plan my reading quite like Summer. As soon as the temperatures rise and we start signing people up for the Summer Reading Program–pssst, have you signed up yet??–I start setting goals.

Sometimes these goals of mine are very general. Maybe I decide to explore a particular genre in greater depth, or to read more of a certain author. Often, I’ll use the longer days as motivation to tackle a really long book that I’ve been putting off for forever because I prefer my books to clock in around 300 pages. Or I’ll decide to revisit an author whose work I love and reread my favorites.

My problem is that once I start setting goals, it’s hard for me to stop. One goal feels good? Well, imagine the thrill when I achieve three of them! Or five! Or more! And if a small goal is good, then a huge goal must be great! Before I know it, I’m not just planning to reread a few of my favorite author’s choice titles. Oh no, I’m signing on to reread their entire oeuvre before the Summer ends.

I’m sure you can see the problem, Astute Reader. Before I know it, summer is over, I’ve barely scratched the surface of the ambitious TBR list I concocted for myself, and although I’ve read plenty of books, I’m left with a lingering malaise of guilt over not meeting my goals.

But recently I had a breakthrough. I realized that I don’t have to try to read everything I might possibly want to between May and August. Those books will still be there long after I’ve dug out my scarves and boots and started planning for Halloween. Moreover, they’ll be just as good, regardless of when I get around to them. After all, I’m an adult now. I’ve been out of school for five years. When Fall rolls around, it doesn’t mean that I have to give up my recreational reading time. It means I still get to read whatever I want, just while enjoying more bearable temperatures and pumpkin-spice-flavored everything.

Somewhere along the way, I forgot that Summer reading is supposed to be fun. So this year, my primary goal is not to set too many. I’m giving myself permission to be fickle and flighty, to choose books based on whatever whim overtakes me in the moment, and to cast books aside without a second thought if I’m not enjoying them. Of course there are books that I’m excited to read soon, but if I don’t get to them because something else was more immediately appealing, it’s no big deal. They can wait their turn.

What about you? Are you setting lofty summer reading goals? Do you find it as hard to relax and just read as I do? Which books are on your summer TBR? Let’s talk about it in the comments!



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