Why I Love Reading Challenges (But Won’t be Setting a Goodreads Goal)

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It’s not a big secret on this blog that I like read-a-thons and reading challenges. I mean, my title even has “readathons” in it. I’ve been thinking a lot about meaningful reading goals lately, and how those tie in with different reading challenges I’ve attempted, and ones I plan on attempting next year in 2018. The conclusion I’ve come to is that I really value reading challenges for their qualitative goals, more than their numeric goals.

My Goodreads challenge for this year was about 10 more books than I actually read last year. As I write this, it’s December 21, and I still have 7 books to go. I’m confident that I can still make my goal, with the help of audio and comic books, but about a week ago, all that looming number did was add to my stress level. As I noticed that it was adding to my stress level, I realized that the numeric goal wasn’t very meaningful to me anymore. In fact, it was negatively impacting my reading life. It used to be meaningful to me, but as I’ve started reading more blogs and tracking more reading, reading challenges with goals that push the boundaries of my reading life have become much more meaningful to me.

I get excited by reading challenges, for instance, that ask me to do things like read a collection of poetry in translation that’s not about love or to read a book about a main character with an under-represented body. Books that I might not normally seek out, but that will still enrich my reading life when I’m given the opportunity to search them out for a challenge, are what I’m looking for. Often reading challenges feature categories that I wouldn’t think of searching for otherwise. Whether I end up enjoying the book or not, I’ve still managed to create more diversity in my reading life by seeking out books that are in some way novel to me.

Participating in reading challenges has also encouraged me to set more meaningful reading goals for myself. As I tracked my reading this year, I realized I read far less diversely than I thought I did. A lot of the diverse books I read came from reading challenges, and so for next year, I’ve set some goals for myself to read more diversely, including reading more books with main characters that are LGBTQIA+ and/or authors that are LGBTQIA+. I’m also challenging myself to read more books in translation, because I mainly read books that are from the UK, US, and Canada. While some credit for these new goals can come simply from the act of tracking, I really don’t think I would’ve tracked without initially tracking reading challenges.

So, in a nutshell, I love participating in reading challenges that enrich my reading life in meaningful ways–by increasing diversity in authors, genres, characters, and original publication language/country of origin. Setting a numerical goal can increase challenge for me, but not in a way I find enjoyable or relaxing, which is what I want reading to be for me. Therefore, I’m probably not setting a reading goal for next year on Goodreads–but I will still be enriching my reading life substantially in other ways.

If you’re interested in some year-long reading challenges, I highly recommend checking out Read Harder 2018 and the Reading Women challenge.

What reading challenges are you looking forward to in 2018? What 2018 goals do you have? Let me know in the comments!




9 thoughts on “Why I Love Reading Challenges (But Won’t be Setting a Goodreads Goal)

  1. I completely agree with this! I love cool reading challenges that push me out of my “normal reading zone,” but I really don’t like when a challenge starts to stress me out, and it starts feeling more like homework than reading for fun.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I tried to swear off reading challenges because I almost never complete them but I just have so much fun making a tbr for them that I can’t help but join a bunch. I change my goodreads goal so much it’s insane but I do it so I’m not stressing over how many books I have left.

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  3. I also set my Goodreads Challenge goal higher than normal, and I also got stressed out near the end of the year. I had to push myself to finish, and read some shorter books just to do so. I’ll still do the challenge next year, but I’m setting my goal low again – I just like to have the handy graphics of what I’ve read in a given year. It helps me when I do my Quarterly Report blog posts.

    As for 2018, I’m not setting any goals! I just want to see what happens when I just follow my curiosity. Good luck with your reading goals!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I don’t usually set large number goals for myself because I don’t like feeling pressured to meet whatever goal I set. I’ve started a thing where I set my Goodreads goal at 25 books and I’ll up that goal if I reach it earlier in the yr. In 2017 I started with a goal of 25, then upped it to 50, and now I’ve read 52 books this yr. I’m planning on doing the same thing for 2018 so fingers crossed I can read even more in 2018


  5. I agree! I didn’t like what setting a number goal did to my reading habits. This year I’m focusing more on reading diversity. I’m new to this whole internet community of readers, so I didn’t know there were challenges like the ones you mentioned. So excited to check them out! Thanks!


  6. I agree completely with your quality over quantity statement! By most standards I read a lot, but counting the books I read still stresses me out and makes reading less fun. My guess is that I read about 200 books/year (including MG, YA, and rereads), but I haven’t counted for a long time.

    When it comes to challenges, I try to approach them with the goal of just learning about new books by reading people’s TBR lists and searching for books in each category. Otherwise I get too anxious or competitive.

    For 2018 I would really like to work on reviewing more long/academic works. Also I would like to read more books about Africa and continue the two challenges I started last year.


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