Friday, September 21, 2018

A Challenging Challenge after all

It seemed like last year every website devoted to books put out a reading challenge.  In January these feel exciting and new.  But now that it's September...well, it's kind of uncomfortable to check in on my progress.  

I didn't bite at every challenge I saw, but Goodreads always draws me in.  They only ask for a number:  how many books will you read this year?  Innocent enough.  At the end of the year, they provide you with a lovely infographic.  In years past, I've accomplished my reading goal and then some so this year I decided to be ambitious.  

75.  75 books in a year.  More than a book a week.  I was excited, sitting on the couch by my fire.  Of course I could read that many books!  It would be easy!

Now, it's September and I'm not in a good place.  

I'm 9 books behind where I should be to keep pace for completing my goal.  And I obsessively check to see when that number will go up--oh, wait, it just did.  10 behind now.  Great.  #notgreat

I've noticed that instead of making me feel good about reading, this year I'm viewing my reading life in unhealthy ways.  

44 books is pretty good for a busy mom of four.  This year I've read more "grown-up" books than in the past.  

Right now I'm "bogged down" by beautiful literature:  A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Nobody's Fool, and The Count of Monte Cristo.  All of them are over 500 pages and I've wanted to read all of them for years.  Instead of celebrating that I'm checking off these excellent novels, I'm frantically thinking about how I can cram in 10 books in the next two weeks.  

kids, leave mommy alone.

Quantity over quality does not seem like good math for the books I chose to read.

Is this a sign I need to rethink my dedication to an arbitrary reading challenge or an opportunity to be creatively strategic about my reading (new blog idea: October, the month of YA and mass market crime novels).  

When I get down to the heart of it, I know finishing my three big books will make me so happy.  I definitely love setting goals and accomplishing them but in this area of my life, I'm wondering if a revised goal wouldn't be wiser.  

The year is not over yet, so it remains to be seen if reading 75 books is possible or a pipe dream.  

Do you participate in challenges or avoid them in favor of a more organic reading schedule?  

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