Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Why I'm Not Doing The Goodreads Challenge This Year

Let me be clear: I love Goodreads.  I love that there is a place where I can keep record of everything I read and record my thoughts, and, maybe most importantly, keep track of my massive TBR list.  Goodreads is my friend.  I'm a fan.  I'm also a fan of the Goodreads challenge because it helps push people to read more.  I've done the Goodreads challenge several times in years past, and I like that Goodreads tracks what I've read and tells me whether I'm on track or whether I need to pick it up to meet my goal.  Often times, my Goodreads challenge is the only New Years challenge I actually complete in any given year.  :)

But I'm not doing it this year.  Here's why:

1) When I'm doing the Goodreads challenge, I shy away from big books.

I like big, fat books.  I feel a huge sense of accomplishment when I finish them.  In years past, I usually made a goal of reading around 45-60 books a year, which averages out to about one book every week.  Big books take longer to read, for obvious reasons, and I don't always finish them in a single week.  So even if my page count is comparable to previous years, my book count is shorter if I read a bunch of big books, which makes it a lot harder to reach my goal.  When choosing between two books, I would tend to pick the shorter, easier one, even if I was less interested, just so that I could stay on top of my goal.  So, when I thought about it, I realized that the Goodreads Challenge was actually hindering my reading progress because it was preventing me from reading harder.  This year I've already read some big, fat books, and I've liked that I wasn't stressed out if I didn't finish them by the end of the week.  It made the whole process much smoother.

2) I'm going to read anyway.

I'm a reader.  I have been ever since I can remember.  I think the Goodreads Challenge would be very beneficial for those who might tend not read in their spare time and want to change that.  If the Goodreads Challenge provides that extra push to read instead of watch reruns of Fixer Upper, then awesome!  You should go for it!  (But still watch Fixer Upper while making dinner or something because that show is awesome.)  But I find that extra impetus to read isn't really necessary for me.  I'm going to read anyway, so I don't really need any extra pushes.  Now if Goodreads had a challenge that actually pushed me to go running, that would be a different story.

3) It was stressing me out.

Of all the things in my life, reading is not typically one of my stressers.  Having this challenge in the back of my mind when I was reading would sometimes make me focus more on how many books I was reading instead of the book itself.  My goal was to finish books, not to think about them, not to write about them, not to process them or talk about them or do anything besides mark "read" besides the title.  I didn't like that.  I wanted to go back to that intimate feeling between a story and its reader, where my mind and the words I was reading were trying each other on and seeing how we fit and how we made each other different.  I wanted to feel connected to the books themselves, and I felt like the Goodreads Challenge was turning my books into a statistic.  It was messing with my relationship with books and it was stressing me out. 

So I stopped.  As a result, this year has been so freeing.  I've still read my share of short, fluffy books, but I read them because I wanted to.  And when I felt like a heavy, thought-provoking Pulitzer winning hunk of a book, I read that, too.  My numbers may not be as high, but I honestly think my reading has broadened, and, more importantly, I feel happier.  

I might do the Goodreads Challenge again someday, but if I do I would probably make a really low goal number-wise, one that I knew I would meet even if I went through a Victorian Russian authors phase while caring for newborn twins.  Because no one needs extra stress in their lives.  And I want my relationship with books to remain positive and fulfilling.

Now to find a different New Years challenge that I can actually complete before the end of the year...

It's strange to talk about goals in June, but oh well!  Do you set New Years goals?  If so, how are you doing, now that we're half way through the year?  Do you do the Goodreads Challenge?  What's your experience been like?  Do you feel it helps or hurts your relationship with books?  


  1. I think those are legitimate reasons for not doing the Goodreads challenge. It often stressed me out too. And, honestly, when I'm not in the mood to read, I won't read. For example, I haven't picked up a single book since May 18. I've just had so many things on my plate lately that I can't concentrate on a book. I need mind-numbing things to do like watching TV and movies. I hope it doesn't last long, though.

    I used to set goals, but I get stressed out way too easy. So, right now, my main goals each year are to focus on the positive rather than actually setting tangible goals. (I tend to make unrealistic goals too, so that doesn't help.) I do participate in the GR challenge and I've done pretty good with it in the last couple of years, but this year it's bad. Oh well. You win some, you lose some.

    1. It sounds like you have a great attitude about the Goodreads Challenge! It's great that you can just shrug your shoulders and move on if it's not working for you this year. I have a little bit of a competitive spirit so it stresses me out when I get behind, so it's better for me to either not do it or set a low, extremely achievable goal that allows me to read whatever I want.
      PS, I think focusing on the positive is an excellent goal! Maybe I'll do that instead of the Goodreads Challenge. :)

  2. I'm with you on the big book thing, especially if I get behind. I have found that if I'm a few books ahead of schedule, I'll pick up a bigger book.

    I never thought of the Goodreads Challenge affecting some of my reading habits, but it really does.

    I enjoy the challenge cause I like keeping track of the books I've read this year, and it is a bit of a bragging right for me. I'm still going to participate, but I think I'll rethink a few of my reading habits now. Thanks for the eye opening post!

    1. I think my problem was that I always a fairly high (for me) goal that would push me to read more, but the problem was that I already spending a lot of time reading and had no more time available to devote to it, so I was never at that point of being a few books ahead. Thus the stress and self-inflicted pressure to do even more of what I was already doing a lot of.

      I'm glad the Challenge works for you though! I totally get liking the tracking aspect of it, and, since I've seen how many books you get through on Goodreads, you definitely have some awesome bragging rights! :) Thanks for your comment, I like hearing about others' experience with it.

  3. I do it, because it pushes me to read, and it reminds me to read. I'm a person who will happily scroll through Facebook for the eleventy-millionth time instead of pick up a book, but the goodreads challenge (and goodreads, generally) motivates me to put down the social media and pick up something that will actually feed my soul. But I also think you have perfect reasons for not doing it! Different strokes for different folks, man.

    I have a great idea for a year-long goal for you - make every cookie recipe out of a cookie cookbook. Then you can send them to me and I'll rate the cookies and tell you which are best. :)

    1. Haha! A better goal would be for us to spend a week in Mexico doing nothing but baking cookies and eating and reading. Compound location idea?

      I'm glad that the Goodreads Challenge exists precisely because it has the potential to do exactly what you described. I'm glad it's around, and I might do it again someday, but not now. Meanwhile I will cheer you on your Goosreads goal!

  4. The Goodreads challenge just stresses me out too. I think I just do it to encourage me to read more but it's probably doing the opposite. I'm glad your getting your relationship with books back.

    1. Thanks! It certainly can push people to read more, but I already read a lot, so I don't really need more pushing haha. Sounds like you're in a similar situation. *Virtual high five*


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