I’m saying ‘Good riddance’ to my Goodreads challenge.

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!

or

Wow, this is a long book, but it only counts as one; how disappointing.

or

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.

37 thoughts on “I’m saying ‘Good riddance’ to my Goodreads challenge.

  1. Haha! There is nothing more stress-inducing than that mocking little “You are 2 books behind schedule” notice. Well actually, there are plenty of things more stress-inducing but why subject yourself to something that’s even a little bit stress-inducing when you don’t have to?

  2. I hear ya girl! I’ve been trying to do this with my blog as well. The PRESSURE! I refuse to beat myself up over not getting a book review in on time (especially when life takes over) or reading a book I HAVE to read–it takes the enjoyment out of what I originally enjoyed about starting a blog–reading awesome books! Totally support this!!

  3. Hey, if the Goodreads challenge doesn’t work for you, then get rid of it! When something like that stops being fun/encouraging and starts making your reading life more stressful than it should be, there’s no point in continuing, right? Good on you for recognizing that this just does not work for you right now.

  4. I agree, getting behind makes me feel awful! Last year I deliberately set my goal pretty low, and I stayed at least 8 books ahead all year, so that strategy worked for me. But I totally get it. It’s a pressure that can interfere with your love of reading if you take it too seriously.

    • I’ve never had any problems meeting my goals, but I just hate that voice in my head that’s turning every book into a check-mark towards that goal; or making me feel like I have to read as much as I can as fast as I can. Even if I read the same number of books this year as I did last year, I want my outlook to be different — no pressure!!

  5. I’m doing something similar this year. I’ve never NOT meet my Goodreads goal, but this year setting a challenge hasn’t really appealed to me. I’m not sure if I’ll hold off the entire year, but I’m TRYING not to set a GR goal this year.

  6. I really liked your post! It’s such an odd feeling when you start doing something for the enjoyment of it, but then you begin to see numbers and goals, instead of what you had originally intended: just to read.
    Great post!

    • Thanks for saying that, April! I feel really strongly about this for me personally, but I’m definitely not saying the GR challenge is bad — it’s just bad for me. I’m glad that came across properly. :)

  7. More power to you, Nikki, for deciding to say goodbye to the Goodreads reading challenge this year! I think your goal to have ownership over your reading is spectacular, and I hope you have an amazing year of reading <3

  8. I love this outlook on the goodreads challenge. I have felt the pressure when am behind I have thought I need to read this and that many a month to keep on track but last year and especially this year I didnt out much pressure on myself to complete it I didn’t complete 2015 challenge by 15 books and don’t get me wrong I was a little disappointed but in the end it wasnt the end of the world. I have still set my goal this year I do love to see what books I have read in a year but I get you when you can sometimes feel the pressure. Fantastic post

  9. Good for you, Nikki! You have to do you. This is a really awesome post! I’d never considered the Goodreads challenge in this light. Personally, I don’t feel this pressure when it comes to the challenge but I don’t go onto Goodreads all that much. Maybe 2-3 times a week and if I am on there it’s usually on my phone and I’m updating my reading status. I also set my goal at 52 books for the year which isn’t that stressful because I definitely read more than one book a week. I have a much bigger problem with feeling guilty about ARCs I don’t have read on time.

    • Thanks Jessie! Like I said, it started out that way for me, as keeping track; but I started dwelling too much. It feels good to step away from the challenge and know there’s no number being aimed for. But yeah — ARC’s are a WHOLE different ballgame. I feel that pressure, too, and it sucks. x_x

  10. I’m dropping the goodreads challenge this year as well, so its nice to see someone doing the same and sharing the same reasons as I do. I always felt guilty for not meeting that goal. I had a hiatus for surgery, and I actually felt guilty for not reading because of the goodreads challenge. Which is stupid because it matters to no one but myself! I’m all about taking the pressure off in 2016, so hopefully this works for you too!

  11. I totally get this! I decided to read 100 books this year, and I am already feeling the pressure… usually I read like 6 books a month, because don’t get me wrong, I love reading! But I also have other things to do… Bumping it up to 8 is already a struggle, and it isn’t even considered to be a lot of books!

  12. Bold move! I’ve considered not participating in the GR challenge this year because I’ve been so stressed and busy with school, but in the end I just couldn’t resist setting a goal. I know I’ll be behind this month, but I also have a feeling I’ll be finishing a book a day in June, when the school year ends. I guess I’ll just leave it alone for now. I don’t actually have a problem with GR telling me I’m behind, but I get sad knowing that I’ve been too stressed to really enjoy the hobby I usually adore.
    Happy reading!

  13. This is great! I hope your year is filled of reading what you want, when you want – without any pressure! I don’t ever feel pressured by my GR challenge (for whatever reason), so I’ll continue doing it, but my goal is the same as last year (52 books). Even though I read 139 last year and even though I think I’ll easily surpass it again this year.

  14. I opted out because it made me feel guilty about rereading books I love, because either they didn’t count for the year, it they subtracted from previous years. Instead I started using shelves to track books I read in a given year.

    • Ah, that’s an interesting point. Actually, if you add another edition of a book to your shelf, you *can* count re-reads! Just go to the book’s “all editions” page; click on the title of an edition that’s not on your shelf; and underneath the book details, to the right of the “MY REVIEW” heading, it’ll say “Review this edition”. Click that, and on the review page, you can add it to whatever shelves you want. Setting the “date completed” will add it to whatever year’s challenge you want. Voila! ^_^

      • I thought about doing that, but it just felt wrong. I don’t know, I wanted to mark what I did with that book, not split it out. I wish they would go ahead and enable marking re-reads already.

  15. I agree with you on some points. I am currently trying to read A Game of Thrones, which is a 800+ page book. I have been “reading” it for two days now, but I have been really busy so I am only on page 23. I defiantly do not need Goodreads telling me that I am falling behind because I am trying to read a really big high fantasy book. Yes, it is going to take me longer to read this book Goodreads. Get over it! I feel like the worst part about it is that I am considering picking up another book with A Game of Thrones so that I don’t fall behind. I like the Goodreads challenge, but I don’t need it telling me that I am falling behind. Anyway, I’m rambling. Great post!

  16. This is hilarious. Why? Because I have felt the EXACT SAME WAY for two years now.

    Last year, I was a reading disappointment to myself and my GoodReads challenge continually reminded me. I ended up dropping my goal several times throughout the year which sort of felt like heartbreak every time. It felt like I was more interested in meeting the goal than actually reading. So what did I do? I read a pile of novellas. I read 18 books last year (I don’t even want to go into what the heck happened there). A third of them were novellas just to try to keep my Goodreads Challenge on track. What the hell?! That’s not the point!

    So, we get to 2016 and my one and only resolution this year is to read. Seriously. Reading is my first love. It’s what got me into the crafting that I do, but ultimately, reading is what I MUST HAVE in my life. So I set my GoodReads Challenge. Because I felt like that’s what I just have to do. Like the new year started so the first step was to set my GoodReads Challenge (I think it might have been the first thing I did at 12:01am). It’s as if my new year couldn’t start until I set that GoodReads Challenge goal. So I needed a number first before a book? That is such backwards thinking and totally counterintuitive to what I actually want to accomplish this year.

    I should probably delete the challenge altogether. But… I’m a numbers girl. Man, do I love numbers. So. I think I’ll keep it. See what happens. If it starts passive aggressively suggesting that I’m a failure (read: You’re two books behind schedule!), then that thing is going out the window. I recognize that this is silly thinking – I’m only keeping it if I stay on track, otherwise sayonara – but, whatever.

    Thanks for this. Thanks for making me reevaluate. It’s good to know that there is another option – one can ACTUALLY choose not to do the GoodReads Challenge. That’s pure innovation right there. ; )

    • Thank you so much for your thoughtful comment, Jessie! You totally got what I was saying in this post. “So I needed a number first before a book? That is such backwards thinking and totally counterintuitive to what I actually want to accomplish this year. ” < -- Yes!! Numbers are great. *Tracking* numbers is great and can be fun. But when what you really want is to read great books, but your first action is to set a number... Idk. That works for some people, but not for me anymore.

      I’m so glad you found my post helpful. There’s ALWAYS another option, but when it goes against what you’re used to, and against what the majority of people are doing (EVERYONE has a GR goal, omg), it can be hard to decide to take that option. I hope you’re able to look at the goal differently now, and do what’s best for you, whether you stick with it or not! Either way, you’ll succeed if you make the choice that makes you happiest. :)

  17. I sat out the challenge for the last couple years, but this year I’m back in it… but setting the bar LOW! My overall goal is 75 books… including stuff I don’t typically track on GR, like audiobooks, re-reads, and comics. But I’m still hoping to read three new books a month, so I set my GR goal at 36. I figure even with the shake-up in my reading life since having a baby last year, this is still doable, and keeps me focused on making time for myself.

    But I agree… sometimes it’s just not worth it. No one wants a hobby to feel like work.

  18. This is a great reason to not do a challenge: ” I don’t want a number to influence them at all.”

    I contemplated doing any challenges, but did settle on Goodreads with a goal of 26 books (that way I don’t feel the pressure to “meet” my goal, but to read more quality books) and an audiobook challenge (since I’m into those a lot lately).

    Cheers with your reading year!

  19. I relate to this a lot! When I first started blogging, I was so worried about the idea of stressing about numbers. So much so that I only set my goal to 25 books. And even though I’m almost positive that exceeding 50 books a year is no problem at all for me, I still only set my goal to 50 so that I don’t feel pressured. I think it’s great that you recognize how you feel and are taking time to acknowledge it!

  20. I so understand your point! I’ve actually lowered my GR challenge twice this year so I can read at a more leisurely pace and not have that thing buggering me because I’m a book behind or something… But I really want to have it there so I can track more easily what all I’m reading…

  21. I totally see why you are bypassing the goodreads challenge this year. I hope it makes your reading year less stressful! I love participating in the goodreads goal every year. I don’t know what it is, but I like looking at the progress bar, but if it ever started to make me feel pressure I would probably just lower my goal. I just don’t know if I would ever give it up all the way. I am not sure why exactly… lol

  22. That’s actually a great idea, and after reading your post I’m debating on doing the same. I usually file all my book read in a particular year on a Goodreads list anyway, and even now I find myself looking at my goal. I’m trying to keep this year as stress-free as possible, so any ways that I can make it easier I’m willing to try. I’m going to leave it for now but eventually I might want to get rid of it. :)

  23. 0h man, I totally understand the points you made in this post. I’m quite a slow reader and even though I only set my challenge at 50 books this year, there’s definite pressure – which is ridiculous, because it’s not as if we actually win anything at all from the Goodreads challenge. It’s literally just to see how awesome you are, and I’m sure we all know how awesome we are anyway :)

    I’m still going to try and keep up with my challenge (because I’m so incredibly anal about these things and have to see them through once I’ve started) but I hope deleting it will help you towards owning your reading choices! :D Sometimes keeping track just isn’t worth it.

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  25. We are all book lovers, but reading and how we read still is a very individual process. I love the Goodreads challenge, but I get that it’s not for everyone. Knowing what makes and keeps reading a joyful experience is an important thing to know about yourself as a reader. I like the pressure, personally, but I know it’s weird. ;)

    Here’s to a year of reading that is wonderful and pressure free!

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