Why I’m Not Participating in Reading Challenges This Year 🚫

For the past few years, I have participated in the Goodreads reading challenge. I have reached my goal some years and I haven’t reached it in other years. And both of those are fine, but last year I didn’t even come close to reaching it.

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.

UNNECESSARY PRESSURE

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.

CONSUMERISM

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.

Are you taking part in any reading challenges this year? If you are, what do you like about them? If you’re not, why not?

13 Comments

  1. 02/01/2020 / 12:28 PM

    I did set a Goodreads goal to read 50 books this year, but I’m not counting on reaching that goal. I never have, embarrassingly! However much I read, I want it to be more than last year, which shouldn’t be hard since I only read 4 books (my first year of motherhood hit me HARD). I also want to do a Popsugar reading challenge mostly to encourage me to read outside my comfort zone. But, I always will drop the challenge the moment reading becomes a chore. I don’t force myself to read or force myself to read something I don’t like. I get such limited time to dedicate to the pastime that I have the make the best of it!

    • Louise
      Author
      03/01/2020 / 2:00 AM

      I’ve only set my GR goal to one book so that I can still see a number of books that I do read but I won’t have any added pressure. I think it’s definitely better to focus on reading books that you want to read, especially when you don’t have as much time to read as you’d want.

  2. 02/01/2020 / 12:41 PM

    I really like the way you think. These are many of the reasons why I also don’t participate in reading challenges.

    • Louise
      Author
      03/01/2020 / 2:04 AM

      I’m glad I’m not alone in sitting out on reading challenges πŸ™‚

  3. 02/01/2020 / 2:01 PM

    I love this post, Louise! I honestly can’t figure out how some people can read so much. I just read a blog post and the blogger said he read four books YESTERDAY. I mean, what?? I think one book a week is perfect, although I try to read more than that. I know how many books I can read each year and it just never changes, so I set my GR goal to that number so I won’t feel pressure.

    • Louise
      Author
      03/01/2020 / 2:06 AM

      Four books??? That’s just madness to me. I set out a certain number of chapters to read in a day and then put it down once I’ve read them all, so the idea of reading four whole books in a day (especially if they’re novels) just overwhelms me.

  4. 02/01/2020 / 3:23 PM

    I love this post! I managed to read 100 books last year, the first time I’ve ever done it, and it’ll probably be the only time I do it, too. It’s something I’ve wanted to achieve ever since I managed to read 97 books back in 2015. The thing 2015 and 2019 had in common for me was that I was getting the bus to work instead of driving, so my current commute means I’m guaranteed one hour a day to dedicate to reading if that’s what I want to use it for – and because I read for that hour, I’m then encouraged to continue reading when I get home.

    That being said, I’d definitely like to take my time and savour books more this year. I love reading and I love blogging about books, but I don’t want it to become my whole life when there are other things I’d also like to be doing! I’ve set my Goodreads goal at 12 books this year and I’m planning not to update it. Rather than aiming for a goal this year, I’d just like to enjoy what I read and then look back at everything I’ve finished at the end of the year without feeling like I’ve ‘failed’ in some way. Especially when reading can often feel competitive and readers will compare their reading habits to someone else’s, when all that really matters is that we enjoy reading. I never want my hobby to feel like homework!

    • Louise
      Author
      03/01/2020 / 2:23 AM

      The most amount of books I’ve read in a year was 86 books in 2018, but it’s highly unlikely that I’ll ever reach that again because a lot of those books were individual manga volumes. I definitely used to read a lot more when I had commutes to and from sixth form or university and I used to read on breaks too, but now that I don’t have a job and I’m at home all day, I just don’t have the drive to read that much anymore.

      I definitely feel the same way about wanting to enjoy what I read without that lingering “failure” feeling, it just sucks all the fun out of it when you force yourself to do it.

  5. 02/01/2020 / 4:47 PM

    I’m definitely taking a break from a lot of these sorts of things this year as well. The one thing I am doing is writing a short list of books I hope to get through (less than 10), because it helps keep me on track, but I have decided that it’s completely okay if I don’t read a single one. It’s more of a guide for me of books I can choose between rather than having a huge bookshelf of unread things that I don’t know how to start. If I find other things that I want to read instead, that is great – just stops me from being as stagnant I hope.

    • Louise
      Author
      03/01/2020 / 2:25 AM

      I’ll still have my seasonal TBRs for this year, but I’m trying to not act as if it’s the end of the world if I don’t keep on “track” because in reality setting a deadline for me to read a book is a little silly. It’s not the same as not finishing important work on time because there aren’t any consequences to not reading.

  6. 04/01/2020 / 6:39 PM

    I love this post SO much and can feel everything you’ve said here. For me, challenges just feel like pressure and it’s unnecessary, it makes me feel like I’m not reading enough and doing enough as a a whole and I’d rather try and avoid these feelings as much as I can ahah. I’m setting a goodreads challenge, because it’s been kind of a tradition, but I don’t aim for too high, I usually put an amount of books I know I’m able to reach, not to stress myself out, and that’s it. I’d rather read at my rhythm and enjoy it more that way πŸ™‚

    • Louise
      Author
      06/01/2020 / 4:49 AM

      I have set a Goodreads goal for myself too, but it’s only set to one book so that I can still get a solid number of how many books I’ll end up reading in the year just without the pressure πŸ˜…

  7. I only participate in the Goodreads challenge now out of habit, really! And I don’t really set it as a “challenge” so much as to keep track of how many books I am reading. When Goodreads tells me I’m behind I don’t pay it as much mind as I used to. And I actually think it’s fun scrambling to read all the novellas before midnight December 31st because I always leave my novellas until then so it gives me a kick to read them, especially since I bought them! I used to take the challenge so seriously and quickly rush through books but there was no actual point to it. What do you get at the end? A little banner saying completed and that’s it.

    Your point about reading something and then jumping straight on to the next thing struck a chord with me. I feel like I’ve been doing that a lot lately, especially in regards to trying to keep up with review copies and get a review out on or close to publication date (as often as I can). I haven’t requested any books so far this year (I know it’s only a week in, haha) and I don’t really plan to request anything unless it’s something I’m absolutely dying to read and would 100% purchase even if I got denied. I want to read the books I own and the books I want to read, rather than forcing myself to quickly consume books because I have an invisible deadline on them.

    Anyway, I hope we both enjoy a chill reading year without any pressures!

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