Unlike previous years, I’m setting a very different goal for my Goodreads Challenge this year. Before I even went into 2020, I was already thinking about what I should set for my reading challenge when the year began. And the idea of setting it to my usual 50 just didn’t feel right.
If you’re not familiar with the Goodreads Reading Challenge, it’s pretty self-explanatory. A bunch of readers set a goal of how many books they want to read at the beginning of the year and every book they read goes towards that goal. The different between doing that on your own and doing it on Goodreads is that you have a bigger community on Goodreads, which is basically like a cooler version of Facebook for book lovers and authors. The other difference is that you get a fancy summary of what you read at the end of the year, like the longest and shortest book you read that year.
Since I started doing the Goodreads Reading Challenge back in 2014, my goal has been pretty much the same. 50 books at the end of the year, 4 books a month. It’s not that many books to be reading, if you think about it. A book a week isn’t actually that hard if I had the time to read. Key word being “if.”
As you can see, my challenge results from the past few years have generally been pretty successful. Most of them were completed, if not exceeded by the end of the year. You might also notice that this list is missing a couple of years. Specifically, it’s missing 2016 and 2019. Because I didn’t hit my goal in either of those years.
In 2016, I read 31 out of 50 books I had set for myself. Most of that was because my first semester of college came around in the fall and adjusting to that was hard. I think I read maybe five books over the whole first semester. For some people, that’s a good thing. But for me, it was the least I had read in about 2.5 years.
This past year, in 2019, I started out pretty strong with seven books read in January. What threw me off was a book I started over the summer. It sent me into a massive reading slump that I’m only starting to crawl out of now. Between summer and the end of the year, I read three books from start to finish (not including a massive textbook for class). That might just be the least amount of books I’ve read in six or seven years.
I remember feeling really discouraged in 2016 when I didn’t hit my goal, and I felt really discouraged last year when I knew by September that I wasn’t going to hit my goal of 55 books. That feeling was really awful, but it got me thinking. A trend went around the online reading community a few years ago where famous bloggers and YouTubers were setting their goal to 1 book. It was meant to reclaim the structure of the Goodreads Challenge, which had made many of them feel like they were competing to read and pushing themselves to finish books they didn’t enjoy. To an extent, I share that feeling.
Feeling like I had to read a bunch of books I wasn’t feeling or didn’t enjoy, just to hit my goal of 55 books, made me want to read even less. I lost the joy of reading purely because I was suddenly feeling like I needed to read. The goal I had set for myself was no longer a goal, but a pressure that weighed on me every time I looked at my bookshelf or picked up what I was reading at the moment.
As 2020 drew nearer, I decided that I wanted to shake things up. This year wouldn’t be about me trying to push myself to read more. Instead, 2020 is about reading things I actually enjoy and want to read. It’s about allowing myself to read for enjoyment again without feeling like my goal was a burden.
So I’m only “challenging” myself to read 12 books. One book a month for the whole year.
To some people, this might still be daunting. To me, it’s a relief.
There are so many things about choosing a lower number that I could get into, but I won’t for the sake of keeping this blog post “short.” What is most important to me is that I’ve chosen to prioritize my love of the hobby over the challenge of cramming a ton of books into my reading list for the year. I want to get back to loving reading.