Sunday, June 7, 2015

I have a love-hate relationship with my Goodreads Challenge

2015 Reading Challenge

2015 Reading Challenge
Kelly has read 42 books toward her goal of 100 books.

For me, there's something enormously motivating about challenging myself to read a certain number of books in a year. I like having a goal, it gives me something to plan for, and I like the feeling of accomplishment that comes with keeping up with my goal. Its led me to really realise something that I only sort of knew about myself: I don't do well with low bars. If I set my reading challenge for 100 books, I will complete 100 books. If I set it for fifty, it'll be more of a struggle. (I'm sure there's some psychology major shaking their head right now, because I'm not sure what that says about me as a person...)

Things I love about my Goodreads challenge:

  • It makes me think of what I'll read next, as opposed to just sort of wandering around waiting for something to catch my fancy. (Though I still do that sometimes).
  • It makes me push through reader's block more that I generally would. Not in an "I must read this book or else" way, but in an "I should probably give another book a try" way. I'm not great at forcing myself to do things that I hate (vacuuming...) so I'm never really in danger of forcing myself to read if I really, really don't want to.
  • It has the dual effect of encouraging me to finish what I start, and discouraging me from slowly dragging through things I really am not enjoying. ("This books is alright right now, I think I can finish it, so lets read another 50 page and see where I'm at" versus "I cannot stand to read another page, this is wasting my time, I'm going to start something else.")
  • Goals. I like having a goal. I was hardcore at summer reading programs when I was a kid, and feel a touch of resentment that they don't offer one for adults.
Things I don't love about my Goodreads challenge:
  • It doesn't count rereads. This is sort of a pros-and-cons in itself, because I do explore new titles. I still wish it counted when I reread a book for the twelfth time, though. Its still a book. I still read it.
  • Do I count audiobooks? Goodreads does, but I'm not sure if I do. Audio is often a profoundly different way of experiencing a story. Don't get me wrong, I love audiobooks. I just experience them in a very different way than I do reading print.
  • Similarly, I don't track the manga I read (which isn't much, recently, but still) because it doesn't feel right to count it as a whole book. Pictures are a different medium of storytelling than print books are, and, because I go through them so fast, it feels a little strange to record them the same way I would record a novel.
  • It can discourage you from picking up longer or more intimidating books, because they'll take longer to finish. This is less of a problem for me, because I generally read books that I go through fairly quickly, and also because I'm still pretty relaxed about the challenges. It really just takes a little more planning to make it work.
    • I read The Silmarillion earlier this year, which is more dense than a lot of my other reads, despite having a similar page count, I usually had more than one book on the go. I read Silmaril in small amounts every day or so, and still managed to keep up with my challenge.
Overall, I would say that it works for me, though I definitely see why people would choose not to do a challenge like this one. It can be a lot of pressure it you get really invested, or set a really ambitious goal. For me, 100 books isn't outside being completely reasonable- I already finish a book every few days, so this doesn't add crazy amounts of pressure. Though, seriously, they could count rereads.

Anyone else have thoughts on their Goodreads challenge, or any other challenge they're participating in this year? Any challenges that you love or hate participating in?


  1. I've done the GoodReads challenge the past few years, but this is my first attempt at 100 books. Last year I set the challenge at 75 and read over 100, so this time I set my goal for 100 right at the beginning. But I've fallen behind in the last month or so, and the little bar that shows the percentages is stressing me out!

    Overall though, I find it motivating. Like you said, I read a book every few days (most of the time), so it's not a huge added weight. Good luck with your challenge!

    1. It can be a little daunting when you get behind, but, especially at this point in the year, there's still a lot of time to catch up (especially if there are read-a-thons that you like to participate in). I have months where I get a little behind, simply because those aren't really reading months (exam months, sometimes).

      I think its a great way to set a goal when you're reading, but not something to take super-seriously, since reading is really about what you get out of the books, more than the number.

      Good luck to you as well!

  2. I honestly LOVE the Goodreads challenge. I've got it set for 85, but considering I've already read 46, I'll probably be upping it before the year's out. Seeing the percentage and if I'm ahead a few books or behind are things I adore looking at. Usually seeing if I'm behind give me motivation to pick up the pace a bit! I'm actually in a bit of a rut right now (I'm not enjoying anything I'm picking up) so it's nice to see I'm ahead and if I read through my current book (which is a re-read) slowly, I'll still be okay. Whenever I re-read books (which is totally not as often as I want) I just update the 'read on' date to the recent one. Though I totally agree, it would be awesome if you could count re-reads without having to overwrite your previous 'read on' date. (Like several 'read from, to' options.)

    1. At the rate you're going, you could probably set it 100 or so... It definitely has a motivating effect. Since I use GR to keep track of when I read a book as well as for everything else, I don't like resetting the read date (I should probably make myself a spreadsheet or something...) so it would be great for me to be able to count rereads. The upside of not counting rereads is it encourages me to branch out a little, but I would still appreciate the option.