Reading Goals: For Good or Evil?

I’ve used Goodreads ever since I first started blogging and one of the features I find really interesting and potentially divisive is that of the reading challenge. The reading challenge is where you can record every book you’ve read so far this year and set yourself a target.

I need to be honest here, this may be as much sour grapes as anything. Last year I read 220 books. This year, I’ll be lucky to make 150, which for me is bad. However, as I’ve fallen so far behind my target, it’s recently made me think about the potential problems with competitively noting your reading.

Bloggers read a lot. Let’s face it. In order to keep up with the incoming of new books, we have to read a lot and we generally all begin blogging about books because we love reading, we love books. However what does the pressure of reading to a target have on a reader?

Last year, I was ahead for a lot of the year, at points by twelve or fifteen books. Now I’m around twenty books behind my target. I won’t lie, it’s really annoyed me. How could I suddenly be reading less, why am I failing?

The truth is, this year I’ve had less time to read. I’ve been working on my final year of university. I hand in my year’s work in September and for my MFA I’ve finally completed the first draft of my first novel, something I now need to edit, refine and get ready for submission. ┬áIn addition to this, I’ve had a lot happening in my ‘real’ life that for a short period of time at the beginning of 2013 seemed to wipe out my reading mojo completely. I’ve always been able to read quickly, it’s my one superpower so when that stopped working earlier this year I was almost beside myself. I saw it as a personal failure.

However, the more I think about it, I begin to realise how negatively the concept of reading challenges effected me. I’m naturally a fairly competitive person, which doesn’t help in a matter like this. However, also reading in order to just try and up my challenge total takes away from my enjoyment of reading. While I love being able to see the diverse scope of books I have read throughout the year and being able to flick back to what I read in January, where I can say ‘oh that book, I loved that!’, I’m starting to think that the challenge itself may not be in my best interests. I want to read because I love reading, not for a target.

I haven’t updated my Goodreads for a good week or so and have finished several books since then. I’m trying not to look at the target or my numbers as failures anymore and having stopped giving them my attention, I’m a lot happier reading again.

What are your opinions on competitively reading, or reading challenges like this? What do you do when you get behind on your Goodreads target? Do you deliberately not set a target? I would love to hear what you think about this topic.

2 thoughts on “Reading Goals: For Good or Evil?

  1. Lucy @ Queen of Contemporary

    Although I’m ahead of my goal, I still feel a huge amount of pressure to read more and more and to reach my weekly goals. I’m definitely going to try and relax a little bit because it does take the fun out of reading and I don’t need the pressure.

    Good luck with your goals, Lucy!

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  2. tinatspoon

    I decided not to set a target before I started using goodreads regularly because I felt it would be too much pressure. I do read a lot but i have depression and my mojo can go so quickly which I hate. I’m also one of these people that can’t not finish a book and i’m fickle, i only read one at a time so it has my full attention, so if it’s something I’m not enjoying it can take me weeks where I should just go “sod it” and leave it. I’ve managed that once this year but thankfully there are so many good books out there, and I often take note of what you are reading because your reviews are good, that there are fewer nowadays that I feel like I have to trudge through.

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