Last year, I tried doing the Goodreads Challenge (check out my 2016 reads!) and man oh man, did I regret doing so. I certainly don’t regret all the books I read – in fact, it was probably the most I’d read in a year – but I had a horrible time of it. I definitely won’t be doing the Goodreads Challenge again this 2017, and here’s why.
It stressed me out.
I got antsy every time I didn’t meet my count for a particular month, and even found myself picking up and reading books I’d already written off (pun not intended) if I couldn’t afford to buy anything new just so I could make my quota. It made me feel like a bad reader if I couldn’t meet my target number of books read for the month. Who needs that kind of hassle in your life, I mean really? Reading is supposed to be relaxing and fun, for God’s sake!
It made reading a chore.
I’m one of those people that loves to read but the minute I have to read something, my mind turns into a sieve. A perfect example is the books I read for English class when I was in high school. I ended up loving Steinbeck, Austen, Shaw, Orwell, the Brontë sisters, and all the other classics when I reread them in college – but in high school? Absolutely hated them.
(Perhaps the only exception is Wuthering Heights, which I still hate to this day. I wrote an essay on it in high school on why it was sexist and portrayed abusive behavior, and got told by my teacher that I had totally misinterpreted the book. I rewrote the essay into a longer paper during my lit class in university and got an A, so up yours high school English teacher.)
I ended up focusing on finishing the book rather than reading the story.
When reading a new book, what I had on mind was finishing it so I could add it to my list on Goodreads. I didn’t delve into the story the way I usually do: slowly reading passages to better understand it, taking note of lines and passages that I found moving, rereading my favorite scenes. I realized it was time to stop counting and keeping track of how many books I was reading when I finished a book and realized that I couldn’t even recall the plot. I could give you a quick sum-up, but I couldn’t tell you which character was my favorite, quotes that I loved, or in-depth analyses of plot devices.
I’m not saying that the Goodreads Challenge is a bad way of reading.
There is no bad way of reading, when you really get down to it. Certainly, I have the Goodreads Challenge to thank for jumpstarting my reading habit again. But for long-term reading, I find it just doesn’t work for me.
This 2017, I’ll be going back to the way I used to read – with depth and focus, rather than prioritizing speed and quantity. I think I’ll be much happier that way.