I’m on the fence. On Tuesday I gave up on one of the two reading challenges I was doing. For one challenge, the Goodreads yearly reading challenge that lets you set your own goal and read whatever you want to achieve it, I set myself the goal of 100 books. Despite never having broken the mid to high 80s before (89 in 2014 and 85 in 2013) I seem to be well on my way to smashing my goal this year.
I was also doing the Popsugar 2015 Reading Challenge, in which you read 52 books that conform to set criteria, such as “A book your mom loves,” or “A book you were supposed to read in school.” For a while I enjoyed the, well, challenge, of it, but as I got closer to the end of the list I enjoyed it less and less until it became a giant drag. In the last few weeks I have found myself groaning more and more while reading books for this challenge. It began to feel like homework. Or, in the case of some books, punishment.
Though there may be someone out there judging me, there isn’t anyone grading me and there’s no consequences to my quitting this challenge. So I did.
I have challenged myself to read 100 books a year since 2013 but it’s only since joining Goodreads that I have had such success. I know I haven’t actually met my goal yet but it’s late August now and I’ve read as many books as I normally would have by Late October. Barring an accident or illness that results in the loss of both my sight and hearing (I love me a good audiobook) I am confident that I am going to meet my goal this year.
I know many of you are thinking “But what about the books you enjoyed that you otherwise wouldn’t have read?” To be honest, I only read one book for the Popsugar challenge that wasn’t already on my TBR list. Some books were pretty far down the list and got promoted to the top, but with the exception of that one book of Christmas stories I didn’t read anything for the Popsugar challenge that I wouldn’t have gotten around to eventually anyway. So, yes, I’m glad that I finally tried Louis de Bernières’ bizarre Latin American trilogy and that I fi-hi-hi-nally read some Toni Morrison, but I really and truly would have read them eventually. Rather than read books I wouldn’t otherwise have read I read what I was going to read anyway and shoehorned them into whatever categories remained open when my library holds arrived.
By the time I left the group the challenge had started to feel like a bad job. I didn’t want to check in. I didn’t want to do my work. I wanted to do pretty much anything else. Now that I’ve quit I can read whatever the hell I want! I can enjoy reading again!
But I want to know what all of you think. What experiences have you had in the past with reading challenges? Were they motivating or drudgery? What books did you discover and love? What books did you despise?