I love Goodreads. I use it to record all of the books I’ve been reading, I share my reviews, I read reviews from others and nod along excitedly when I realise I am not the only person still feeling happily nostalgic when I think of the Twilight books. And when I find myself thinking of books from my childhood that I have long forgotten the name of, Goodreads will always be there with a list of ‘Kid Witch Books’ to help me rediscover the books that I loved.
In January, I saw a link to set up my Goodreads challenge for 2017. I had never taken part before but I could see everyone else setting their goals and I was like “Yes! I want to join in!”. I decided to be realistic and aim for around 50 books. At just under a book a week that challenge sounded easy enough!
As it turns out, it isn’t. Setting myself a goal taught me that quantitative reading challenges just aren’t for me!
The Reading Longer Books Dilemma
I have so many books on my bookshelves that I haven’t read yet and even more books on my wishlist. But every time I went to pick my next book to read I found myself considering how it was going to affect my reading goal. Would reading a longer book make me fall behind? Should I stick to shorter books for a while until I start to catch up with my target? Removing myself from my challenge means I can now pick up a longer book and not feel pressured to read it in a week.
Comparing Myself to Others
Last year I found myself down a Bookstagram rabbit hole. I really wanted to be a part of that community but I didn’t have the time to run a second Instagram account and I felt under a lot of pressure to read and own hundreds of books. Seeing that little list of “____ has read 40 of 100 books” on Goodreads had a similar effect and it was starting to make me feel a bit rubbish. How can I call myself a bookworm when I haven’t even reached 10 of 50? But also, why should it matter whether I can read 1 book or 1000 books as long as I’m having a good time?
Quality over Quantity
Setting myself a reading challenge made me feel like I had to read quickly to avoid falling behind on my reading. I am usually a pretty fast reader especially if the book I am reading is a mystery or full of action. But sometimes I just love to read slowly and get totally captivated by a book. Not focusing on a reading challenge has reminded me that quality and engagement is far more important than quantity.
Not Enough Time in the Day
Like so many others, I work 5 days a week. I come home and I have housework to do or dinner to make and in the back of my mind, there is always a whiny little voice that tells me I still need to find time to read. This voice was even louder when I had a reading challenge to catch up with. It felt like I never had enough time in the day to get everything done. Now I know that I can just read whenever I find the time, even if that’s just for 20 minutes on a bus or 2 minutes whilst I’m waiting for the kettle to boil.
No Room for Guilt
When I was younger I spent most of my time reading because it was pretty much the only thing I ever wanted to be doing. Now I also love to listen to podcasts, play video games, bake cakes, watch movies and binge watch shows on Netflix. Falling behind on my reading challenge made me feel guilty for doing all of those things. Sometimes when I get home from work all I want to do is curl up in bed with a bowl of cereal and watch back-to-back episodes of Jane the Virgin and that is okay.
I know setting a Goodreads challenge is supposed to be just a bit of fun and I am so amazed by people who can read so much in one year! But the challenge just isn’t for me and I feel so much more relaxed without it. Plus, it reminded me to read for enjoyment not because I feel I have to! I read because I like to and that is all that matters.
Have you set yourself any reading challenges this year? How is it going so far?
I hope you’re having a great week!