This is the first year that I’ve taken part in the Goodreads Reading Challenge, and I don’t know about you, but when I signed up I thought, “this could be a very bad idea.” You see, adding a reading challenge of any sort has the potential to suck some of the fun and spontaneity out of reading. I was worried that the end of the year would come around and I would be really disappointed if I didn’t hit my goal of 100 books.
Sure enough, around August I started paying attention to the little widget tracker as it helpfully informed me I was 8% behind schedule. Then October hit and I knew I was in trouble: I was a whopping 12% (thanks to easy math, exactly 12 books) behind my goal.
That meant I would have had to read 3.5 books per week to reach my goal by the end of the year (I average 1.75). Rationally, I knew it wasn’t going to happen – between family, work, blogging, and everything else that keeps my life so busy there was no way I was going to finish that many books a week. But, like any stubborn reader would, I tried…
I even came up with a game plan – I would read as many YA as I could because, let’s face it, they are the easiest to get through. Almost all of the adult speculative fiction on my shelves are well over 500 pages which take me at least a week to read. As you can imagine, it wasn’t long before I started to get really tired of reading all YA (I was focusing mostly on dystopian because I was doing a challenge for that as well). It felt like I was reading because I had to, and not because I wanted to. That’s NEVER good.
A few weeks ago, I finally threw in the towel. I was so tired of reading books that I knew would help me towards my goal that I randomly snatched an 800 page book off my shelf to reread and concentrated on that for a solid two weeks… it was bliss.
So what have I learned? It’s no fun to read things because you feel like you have to (even if they are really good books) and reading challenges can be stressful if you don’t pick goals that are consistent with your current reading habits.
In 2014, I’m going to start with 80 books as my Goodreads challenge goal and if I read more I’ll just bump it up accordingly at the end of the year. I’m still going to continue with the Dystopian Challenge (hosted by Blog of Erised), although I don’t think I will come anywhere near that 24+ books I read for it this year. Finally, I’m doing a Series Challenge (hosted by Read. Sleep. Repeat.) with the hopes that I can finish out a few of the dozens of unfinished series still hanging over my head. I’m worried about the last one mostly because I don’t want to feel obligated next year and I kind of already do when it comes to finishing what I start.
What about you? How many challenges do you have for yourself in 2014? Does participating stress you out like it does me?