Our Reading Lives

Why I AM Participating in the Goodreads Reading Challenge in 2015

Jaime Herndon


Jaime Herndon finished her MFA in nonfiction writing at Columbia, after leaving a life of psychosocial oncology and maternal-child health work. She is a writer, editor, and book reviewer who drinks way too much coffee. She is a new-ish mom, so the coffee comes in extra handy. Twitter: @IvyTarHeelJaime

Jessica wrote a great post about not participating in the Goodreads Reading Challenge, and I can identify with a lot of what she wrote — feeling the pressure to meet your reading goal, feeling bad about falling behind. But despite all that, I’m still going to participate again.

In 2012, my goal was 300 books; I read 250. Last year, in 2013, my original goal was 200 books. When I started working at a book store, all the ARCs made it easy to meet that goal. Even with my thesis looming, I kept reading. (Maybe it was also procrastination, I admit.) By the fall, I had upped my goal to 300. When I went home for the holidays, I knew it was my last chance to meet my challenge. Never one to actually enjoy my accomplishments, I upped my goal to 400. I went to the library and stocked up. My Instagram feed shows stacks and stacks of library books. I spent most of New Year’s Eve day finishing The Goldfinch. I finished out the year at 318.

This year, my goal was 300 books. With two weeks left of the year, I have read 194. Am I disappointed? Of course. I’m frustrated. But I keep reading, anxious to see what my final number will be. It’s nice to know how much I read over the course of a year. This year, I can see how things have changed, now that I’m not in graduate school — less time to read, with work and other commitments. I’ve learned to cut myself some slack.

I’m going to participate in the Goodreads Reading Challenge next year, not just to keep track of my books, but also to keep pushing myself to read more and more. There’s something satisfying about seeing that number grow, even if I don’t reach my final goal. And if I happen to meet it or surpass it? That’s just a bonus.


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