Finishing Strong: How to Complete a Difficult Location-Based Reading Goal

Hello Readers! Today I’m sharing my strategy for finishing up the most intense portion of my 2019 reading goals: reading books set in 20 different states. In just over ten months I read books set in fourteen states, leaving me with six states left to go! That seems like a lot, but I think that with a little research, strategy, and determination, I can still make this happen.

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high angle view of cityscape against cloudy sky
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My biggest struggle in regards to this goal is figuring out exactly where some books are set. I had not realized before how often a book just does not say where the story takes place! So, I’m making it a priority to find out where all of the books I read for the rest of the year are set before I start reading them.

Another thing I run into is that some genres are more likely to be set in fictional locations. I don’t read a lot of fantasy or science fiction, but I do read some. It is pretty rare for a SF/F book to be set in a real place, so I won’t be looking at many (if any) books in these genres until after I achieve this goal. The only exception is one that I am already currently reading, Shatter City by Scott Westerfeld.

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Even though I am focusing more on where the books I read are set at the moment, I don’t want that to be the only reason I read something! How, then, am I going to find books I enjoy, which also work towards finishing up some other reading goals, and which are set in six different states that I have not read this year?

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Before I decide what to read next, I need to know what I have already read, so that I don’t duplicate anything. I’ve already taken care of that by tracking the different states I read books from in my 2019 Reading Challenge Headquarters. This page has a section dedicated to reading books set in different states, and it shows that I have read books set in Rhode Island, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, Washington, Montana, Maine, Ohio, New Mexico, California, Hawaii, Oklahoma, Massachusetts, North Carolina, and Indiana.

Next, I go through my to-read list on Goodreads. I’m not looking deeply into every single book on my (extremely lengthy) list, but looking for the ones which catch my eye and which I think might fulfill at least one other goal as well. Then, I’m reading the synopsis and skimming reviews for mentions of where the book is set. Luckily for me, I have a job which allows me a little bit of time to do this kind of research on the clock. (When you work the evening shift at the library circulation desk, there is inevitably some down time. At least, when you aren’t swamped with additional projects. This kind of research is great for multitasking; as long as you don’t lose your place, it’s easy to put down and pick up again.) I also keep my local library’s online catalog open in another tab while I do this, so I can make sure that I have easy access to the books I am interested in reading. Another good resource is author websites, if you have time to find them. Sometimes they share additional behind-the-scenes information about their books on their websites, including where they are set.

In addition to my overarching to-read list, I also have to-read lists dedicated solely to different genres and where I learned about certain books. This makes it easier for me to pinpoint books which can fulfill multiple reading goals. Since I plan to start working on a Christmas-themed reading challenge soon, I started with my TBR-Christmas list. However, it turns out that all of the books on my Christmas to-read list are either set in states that I have already read, or I cannot find any mention of where they are set. Apparently Washington state is a common setting for Christmas stories. Next I move on to a list that Goodreads recommended as similar to some of the books I have been looking at, called Christian Christmas Fiction. I found a few here that I thought might work, but my library does’t have them! So, sadly, I’m moving on to other options without any Christmas books.

My next stop is a list that I call my “really want to read next” list. Basically, it’s a high-priority TBR list which I only allow a small number of books to stay on (25 counts as small compared to the 600+ on my regular TBR list, right?). The only downside in a situation like this is that several of the books on this list are sequels to books I read earlier this year, which means a lot of the settings are duplicates.

So, two states decided! From this point I’m pretty much just going through all of my lists and following the rabbit trails that show up, including books and other lists that show up as similar to what I am already looking at. Through this I came up with:

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It took me a few hours to sort this list out. Now that I’ve got it, I just need to stick with it! There are multiple copies of all of these books at my library, so it shouldn’t be difficult to get them. I might go ahead and request all of them this week, even though I won’t get to them right away! And, I want to keep reading Shatter City by Scott Westerfeld, but since that book is set in a dystopian future, I need to finish it quickly and then get back to things that work towards my goals!

I hope you have a good week, readers! Do you have any yearly goals that you’re making a last-minute push to complete?


Until the next chapter,


3 thoughts on “Finishing Strong: How to Complete a Difficult Location-Based Reading Goal

Add yours

  1. This sounds like it would be a hard goal to do but an enjoyable one all the same! I hope that you are able to find some more books to fill in the states you haven’t read yet :]

    Liked by 1 person

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