Why I Decided to Not Participate in the
2016 Goodreads Reading Challenge
Yep, that’s right. This year, I set my Goodreads Reading Challenge goal as usual… Then I lowered my challenge goal… And then… I deleted my challenge altogether.
Don’t get me wrong: The Goodreads Challenge has its place!
I’ve participated in this challenge since 2011; and every year since 2012, I’ve set my goal at 100 books (120, one year). And honestly, I’ve never had an issue meeting and/or exceeding those yearly goals — 100 books per year seems to be just shy of my natural reading pace. And really, since my goals so closely align with my natural pace, I set my challenge at 100 books a year mostly to be able to keep a count of the books I’ve read — or so I’ve told myself every year.
The thing is… Yes, the Goodreads Challenge widget is very handy at keeping track of the books I’ve read. And everyone is well aware of what else it does: It tells you when you’re behind! How… helpful… *side-eyes it*
That’s where my problem began. I can tell myself over and over that my challenge goal is just a number. It’s “just to keep track.” I’ve never had a problem meeting it — even though I know it’s not a goal I have to meet. But by the mere fact of its existence, I feel pressure.
Come on, Nikki, you need to get through at least two books this week, otherwise you’ll fall behind!
Wow, this is a long book, but it only counts as one; how disappointing.
You haven’t read anything in two days — what is that going to do to your Goodreads goal?!
So I’m trying to change my outlook.
One of the most important things I’m focusing on this year, in all aspects of my life, is ownership. There’s a lot wrapped up in this word, for me; but when it comes to reading, I want to own my reading choices. I don’t want a number to drive them — I don’t want a number to influence them at all.
I read because I love it. Full stop. I don’t want or need a number to spur me on. I could quote that familiar maxim, Quality over quantity!!! And while that’s sort of related to what I’m feeling, that still doesn’t cover it.
I don’t want the “success” of my reading year to depend, in whole or in part, on a number.
Setting my Goodreads Challenge at 100 books may have started as a “keep track of it” method; but somewhere along the way, my outlook changed. That number feels like pressure now. It’s making me look at each book as if it’s one tiny drop in a bigger-picture goal bucket — in a bad way. And I don’t like that. So I’m tossing that goal out the window.
I am so, so aware that there are so many great books out there, and yes, I want to read as many of them as I can. But seeing that Goodreads progress bar every day… It’s doing more than I want it to. It’s telling me to read as many books as I can, as quickly as I can. It’s telling me that when I finish one book, I have to immediately pick up the next, or fear falling behind. I hate feeling the pressure of going a couple days without reading — oh god, how far behind did this set me??? That’s not cool!
This year, a numerical goal has no place anywhere near me or my TBR.
Please note: I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with wanting to read books to fulfill a numerical goal — Goodreads challenge or otherwise. There are many positive aspects to setting a goal for the number of books you want to read — whether that’s a yearly goal, or a books-in-this-genre goal, or a books-by-these-authors goal. If that’s what spurs you on and inspires you to read more, and it’s enjoyable for you, then that’s awesome!
But for me personally, right now, what I need is to not have that goal hovering over my reading life.
I might still read 100 or more books this year. Who knows? Subconsciously (and likely also consciously, until I can squash the desire), I’m sure I’ll be hoping to read 100 or more books in 2016, as that’s a number I’ve kept up with the past few years.
But starting this year, I don’t need or want Goodreads telling me to do so.