Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Reading Challenges


I’ve noticed that a lot of readers and bloggers have different feelings and opinions about Goodreads/reading goals. 

I’ve been making a yearly reading goal since last year.  In 2014, my goal was to read 100 books and I ended up reading 130.  So, when setting my goal for this year, I wanted to push myself a little more and made my goal 150.  I figured that if I read 130 the previous year, it shouldn’t be too hard to read 20 more.
I was wrong.

I hadn’t anticipated starting a blog – which in itself is a lot of hard work and takes time. Time that could be spent reading books. 

Not to mention that I’m also still in school and that takes away so much time from my reading. 

This year, in 2015, I read 111 books.  Meaning, I was 39 books away from my goal of 150.  Overall, even though the volume of books I read last year was greater, 2015 was more successful.  I reviewed many books this year, which takes more time and energy than just reading, as I had been doing the previous year.

I always thought that setting this “reading challenge” was something fun and, well…challenging. 

At the end of this past year, I found myself getting very stressed out.  Because if I set a goal like this and I don’t reach it, it’s really disappointing and upsetting. 

I found myself thinking “I really need to cram to reach this Goodreads goal before the end of the year!”  When in reality, NO I didn’t need to.  Do I really want to have to read almost a book a day for two months just to attain an arbitrary number only put in place by myself?  No, I didn’t.  This is a reading challenge based only on the number of books you’ve read.  It doesn’t take into account any other things you’ve done or how many of those you spent time reviewing. 

Is my “Reading Challenge” helping me and encouraging me, or has it become something (based only superficially on a number) that I feel like I need to attain, lest I feel like I’ve failed?  I think this is something I’ll really need to think about when considering doing it this year, in 2016.  I fully believe in the importance of setting goals for yourself and definitely plan on setting some for the upcoming year.  However, I’ve started to feel like this ‘challenge’ type of goal is something that in reality may be hurting me instead of helping me. 

Some important questions that are great to keep in mind and ask yourself if you’re wondering or struggling with this (like me):

Are setting ‘Reading Challenges’ encouraging you and helping you or are they becoming something that make you feel like you need to reach in order to be successful? 
If I didn’t reach my challenge goal this year, how would I feel or what affect would that have on me?
Is this challenge something that is still fun and encouraging, or has it become a point of stress and anxiety?
Have I become only concerned with finishing this certain volume of books that I find myself rushing through them or trying to cram?
Am I comparing my challenge progress to others’ who may have read more than me?

For me, it’s not something that has yet affected how I read, but is a definite source of anxiety.  I know I’m going to feel disappointed and upset about not reaching it, when I shouldn’t feel that way.  I haven’t “failed” in anything, because the volume of books I read isn’t what’s important, but what I take away from them. 

Some things I’d like to get your viewpoints on:
How do you view reading challenges?  Do you think they are something that is fun and helpful or stressful and harmful?  Do you participate in them?

8 comments:

  1. I'm very laid back with reading challenges and set ones that are going to be a challenge that I want to achieve but don't particularly mind if I don't by the end of it. Life happens and often time is taken elsewhere. So long as you're happy with the amount/what you read, there shouldn't be any unnecessary stress - that's why they're not for everyone :)
    Great, thoughtful post Olivia!
    Enchanted by YA

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    1. I agree! I definitely think that I will try to set more realistic goals as far as reading goes. I'd rather have more time to spend reading each book and be able to concentrate on reviewing it, rather than read a bunch. It's more the quality than quantity! And yes, reading challenges definitely aren't for everyone.
      Thanks so much, Anna :)

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  2. This is a really great post. And I guess it all depends on the person. Sometimes goals can be encouraging, sometimes they're not. I don't like giving myself writing goals, but every year I set a GoodReads challenge of 100 books--and for the past three years I've done that (2015 I ended up with 245 books.) At the end of the day you don't want goals to suck all the fun out of reading, but if they help, then go for it. :)

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    1. Thanks :)
      That's awesome that you've been able to reach your goal. I think 100 books is a really good goal. That's awesome you were able to read 245 books!
      I absolutely agree, thanks for stopping by!

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  3. I think as a whole I like to challenge myself to reading a certain amount of books but at the end of the day what I and others fail to realize is that it's about quality and not quantity. That's one of the things I didn't want to do this year--and that was get caught up in ARCS and reviewing every single thing. I started out as a reader. I want to be a reader first and a blogger 2nd. Great post!

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  4. Ooh, I do get what you mean. I LOVE reading challenges, but I do find myself stressing over it occasionally. Which is stupid?!? Because I mean, if reading is one's downtime it's ridiculous to turn that into a pressureful thing, right?! I've tried to join up for lots of challenges and things, but gah, it just ends up stressing me out. So goodreads is the ONLY challenge I'm doing this year.

    Thanks for stopping by @ Paper Fury!

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  5. I have mixed feelings about reading challenges. I used to do a lot of them, and then found all the keeping track and meeting goals was too much work and stress. My Goodreads yearly count has fallen from a high of 200 (for 2012 and 2013) to 175 (for 2014) and then in 2015 to where I didn't get the "completed" badge (I think I lowered my goal a few times and then still didn't make it.)
    This year I'm trying for 125. I like being able to look back and see the books I read, so I'm going to keep doing it, but it should be a fun thing, not a source of stress!
    Thanks so much for stopping by! Jen @ YA Romantics

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