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