If you’re a devoted reader, chances are you have at the very least heard of the Goodreads Reading Challenge. It’s a chance to log in all the books you read within a one-year span, and challenge yourself to continuously search for new books and read more.
The challenge has been an amazing source of motivation over the years for me. On my first year after joining Booktube, I was happy to notice that the challenge tracker kept me on check and reminded me to be more mindful of my time. Instead of scrolling endlessly on Tumblr and other social media, why not read a book?
While this tactic and tool have worked amazingly well in the past, this year it fell flat for me. It began as I was facing my final year in my business undergrad, trying to juggle a multitude of final assignments, reports, presentations and a part-time job.
While I did still make the time to read, it was just absolutely ridiculous to expect myself to read as much as I had in the past. By the end of April, I was already 10 books behind on the challenge. Since I usually strive to reach at least the 52-books-in-a-year mark, this meant I was reeeeeally behind.
This feeling of failing myself didn’t mix too well with everything else going on in my life, much less my mental health. I don’t mean that this made me spiral into a panic attack at all, but it did add that nagging uncomfortable feeling when I looked at my bookshelves and my extensive TBR pile. It was unsettling enough that I decided I didn’t need to be feeling that all.
For the first time since joining the Goodreads challenge every year, I’ve set my goal at 1 book and so far have actually read 23.
So far, putting aside the number 52 from my goal has let me accomplish a few things:
- Read longer books, like The Last Magician, which I tend to avoid in fear of falling behind on my challenge
- Embrace shorter books and not feel bad for adding them to my list of “read” books because they are so so so quick but still so delicious
- Take my time with each book and savour every word
- Not feel bad about putting books down at the halfway point when they’re just not working for me
Yes, I could have just lowered the goal to a more manageable number. But I felt like I really needed the complete package. The challenge was never just about crossing numbers and books off my list, it was about actually pushing myself to be more conscious of how I use my time. I wanted to be free for a while, not a longer leash. Yikes, that makes the challenge seem like a horrible monster. It’s not! It just wasn’t the right time in my life for it.
That’t not to say I’m giving up on the Goodreads Reading Challenge forever. I really want to get back into it again at some point, hopefully in the new year. I do enjoy having that push to be more actively conscious of how I spend my time, but it was an important step in my reading journey to recognize when I need to adapt. This year, it meant adapting my reading in order to complete other important tasks and milestones, and also allow myself a bit more freedom.
Have you noticed any changes in your reading journey throughout the years? Let me know in the comments below. I’m curious to hear how other people change their habits when it comes to reading, regardless of whether they partake in reading challenges or not.