Reading Challenges – friend or foe?

For the last couple of years I’ve been suckered into partaking in a reading challenge through the goodreads website. The first year I was particularly gung-ho and signed up to read fifty books … and then I thought about it … and then I realized that I would have to average reading one book every 7.28 days! Yeah … no. I think I dropped it down to thirty books but still didn’t get even close. Last year I was more “reasoned” and challenged myself to twenty books. Twenty books seems like a fairly small number but you still have to average a book every two and a half weeks, and by this time my little Books2014sleep-stealer had come into our family so at the end of the day watching “shite tele” was typically the preferred option over concentrating on reading a book. So, did I do it? Well, no. But I did read 18.70 books! Though, in the spirit of full disclosure, ten of the books were compulsory reading for various classes.

Reading challenges appeal to many aspects of my personality:  I’m competitive so I like to see if I’m doing “better” than others; I’m numerical (I did spend the years from age 16 to 34 only studying maths, physics and astrophysics) so to see the number count of read books increase makes me happy; I’m visual so I love to see my progress in the pretty infographics that goodreads produce (see above!).

Of course, the whole point of reading challenges is to make you read, or at the very least be conscience of making reading a priority even if the most recent episode of your guilty-pleasure-drama wins over the book sitting on your nightstand four out of five times. But do they make you read the “right” things. Over the last year I found myself not once but twice hunting the house for a thin book – a quick read that I could blast through in less than two hours in order to bump my flagging reading tally (notice Wonderstruck in my list above? Yup, that was one of those books). Now, to be fair to thin books, they need the love and attention of being read just as much as the thick-could-be-used-as-a-murder-weapon books of the world. But should I really only be hunting them out to up a reading count? Or do they not care as long as they are read?

2015ReadingChallengeSome reading challenges up the ante and take things beyond the simple “how many books you gonna read?” to here are suggestions of books you should read, or here are suggestions of the sorts of books you should read. This one caught my eye the other day from popsugar.com and I love some of the prompts such as a book with non-human characters, or a book that came out the year you were born. But I know which prompt the hubby will be hoping that I follow for all the books I read in the next year … a book that you own but have never read.

And so it is on to 2015. I’ll be sticking with goodreads to track my reading but I’ll dip into the popsugar list for inspiration. But for now I have 19% left of the book that I managed to read 69% of in 2014 and once I’ve hit the last page I will duly scuttle off to goodreads and make it my 1st of 20 for 2015. Happy reading!

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3 thoughts on “Reading Challenges – friend or foe?

  1. Eleanor

    How many of the 18.7 books gave you pleasure? Did you scuttle through them all or were some a chore to finish? Sometimes I find myself reading a book that I like, I find interesting but sends me to sleep so I can only manage a page or two at a time. The book count goes through the floor but the hours of sleep go up! xx

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    1. moraghastie Post author

      Many of them where pleasurable to read – in fact most of them were. The only one that was a real chore to finish was “Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit” – it was a good book but the flow of the book is choppy so I would find just as I got into a groove with one thread it would change on me and it would take me time to get back in. It was a book for class and I suspect if I wasn’t getting examined on it it would have been returned to the shelves unfinished. But I feel like I should read more of her work (Jeanette Winterson) as she is an important British author. I’ve found if I juggle two or three books at one time it helps with getting stuck – hit a sticky patch with one, pick up one of the others! But that only works with books that engaging enough to stay with you as you juggle. I recently read fifty pages of a ‘best selling novel’ that for the life of me I could not tell you what was in it the next day!

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  2. Pingback: First Anniversary | Morag Hastie

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