I’m not disappointed in myself or upset about not reaching my goal because even reading one book is good because it means I didn’t read at all, but not even getting halfway to my goal last year made me realise that a reading challenge isn’t really a “challenge” to me, and is unnecessarily pressuring.
If you’ve ever fallen behind on your own GR reading challenge, you’ll understand how it is to see that “you are X books behind schedule” and feel just a little pressure. There are bound to be people out there who aren’t really bothered by that and just soldier on, but there are definitely those of us who can feel a little taunted by it.
Something that I see a lot towards the end of the year is people dashing to read as many short books or graphic novels as they can before midnight on the 31st of December so that they don’t “fail” their goal. In the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t really matter whether we achieve or “fail” a goal of reading a certain number of books because those books we planned to read will still exist next year and the years after.
IT’S NOT A COMPETITION
There are a lot of people out there who are able to read 100 or even over 200 books in one year. I am not one of those people and I doubt I ever will be. I read at least one book a week because that’s what I’m capable of and forcing myself to read more than one book at a time is just too much for me.
I really do admire those people who are able to read tons of books in a single year, but in order for me to be able to do that, I would have to spend pretty much all day every day reading and not doing anything else because I’m not the fastest reader out there. Even though I am a book blogger and I love reading, there are other things that I want to do in a day. I want to watch a movie, play a video game, walk my dad, bake something, take a bath, sleep, and also read. I have more hobbies.
To get back to the point I was originally trying to make, I think a lot of us do too much comparing to one another in terms of how much we all read. I feel like some people feel the need to read a certain number of books in a whole year in order to be considered a “real” book lover, and it’s just as ridiculous as the idea that you must read certain genres (i.e. classics and literary fiction) in order to be a true bibliophile. Reading is not a competition. Even if you read just one book, it’s still better than nothing.
IT’S OK TO NOT READ SOMETIMES
While I do say that reading one book is better than nothing, I am going to contradict myself and say that it is perfectly fine to not read at all if you don’t want to. I definitely have days where I really can’t be bothered to pick up a book, and while I used to beat myself up about it, now I’ve come to realise that the Earth is not going to cave in on itself just because I didn’t read two chapters before I went to bed.
We all have days where we don’t have the energy to do something, whether that’s making dinner or cleaning the house, and that’s fine because we will eventually find the energy to do it. There are times where you do have to force yourself to do things that you don’t want to do, but when it’s something that’s supposed to be enjoyable, like reading, forcing yourself to do it just won’t make it enjoyable at all. That’s pretty much why we get reading slumps.
This is something that I’ve grown to have an issue with in terms of media in general, not just books. But a lot of culture surrounding entertainment these days is just to consume and want more, rather than taking the time to actually enjoy stories and savour them. I don’t mean that we should only read one book once every blue moon so that we can savour the last thing we read, but often it feels like people just put something down and go “okay, what’s next” in the same way you would finish a huge plate of food at a buffet and then immediately go back for more before you’ve had a chance to digest what you just ate.
If that’s the way that you enjoy things, then more power to you, but that’s just not the way I want to consume media. I don’t want to have to keep an eye on every single thing that comes out and make sure that I see or watch it just because everyone else will be. FOMO is a fleeting thing and it’ll be gone by the time the next big thing comes out, and I’d just rather focus on things that interest me personally, not things that are popular.