As we’re already past the middle of the year and into the second half, I’m sure most of you took stock of what you have done so far this year. And if not, it’s not too late! Many may have assessed whether their goals have been met, few may have given up altogether, and some just thought of new ones for the next remaining months. For many in the book community, it was the time for everyone to go through the list of books they have read so far this year, tracked using the Goodreads reading challenge.
When I was doing a quick scroll through my Twitter feed on a cold rainy day in June, I came across a blogger’s post saying that they have already read 85 books this year. I gasped because that’s an impressive feat, given that most bookworms can’t even hit 50. This sparked a bit of curiosity in me. I kept wondering, how do some people read that many books? I want to know their secret. Do they have day jobs at all? Are they that self-disciplined? Seeing that awe-inspiring number on my feed, it was very easy to feel pressured. To feel a bit sorry for myself for the chaotic TBR that I have. Sometimes, I think I’m not doing enough or I’m a good-for-nothing couch potato.
That is when I decided to stop doing the Goodreads reading challenge at midyear.
Given that someone read as many as 85 books over the course of six months, I wondered if they learned from the books they read at that speed. Did they enjoy what they read? I even came to the point where I considered that they may have skipped parts—cheating—just to show progress. But that’s a baseless accusation.
Believe it or not, books are not created—written—equally. People put such a high premium on reading that when someone says “they are reading,” it automatically means that they are learning from what they read, even more so when they’ve read a lot. I think it still depends on the subject matter and the way the book was read. As for me, for the last two years, I’ve been focusing more on the quality of the books I read than the quantity. It doesn’t matter if I read a paltry ten books a year as long as I get to learn something life-changing and thought-provoking. Something that will make me think for a while. I’ll be prouder of myself if I read 20 books a year deliberately than, let’s say, 90 books I just speed read.
When I read a literary fiction novel that tackles race or an alternate history novel about slavery, I feel as if I’ve accomplished something. For me, feeling accomplished means measuring my reading progress qualitatively rather than obsessing over the numbers in a reading challenge. Because what do I get when I speed read hundreds of books but don’t learn anything from them or don’t enjoy them at all? Is that really something to brag about? Reading books just for the sake of finishing the Goodreads reading challenge? It does feel a lot like a chore, and reading should not be.
Thinking of quitting your Goodreads reading challenge? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Here’s further reading: I Quit My Goodreads Challenge and Never Looked Back.