… and why I won’t bother to fulfill any expectations indicated by my username Madamereadsalot.
Reading Challenges are something I have mixed feelings about. At least when it comes to the amount of books people think they have to read to be allowed to call themselves ‘readers’.
First of all, this isn’t a post to reprimand people who do read a lot. That’s great if you can put so much time into your reading and even manage not to be stressed out by the thought of ‘having to’ read a certain amount of books each month. But if you feel like you have to read a certain amount of books each month to qualify as a part of the reading community… this post is for you!
While reading challenges can be of use to motivate you to read more, there comes a point for some of us, when it actually starts to stress us out, thinking we have to meet certain standards. And that’s not what being a reader is about for me at all and neither should it be for you. Being a reader is not about how many books you read, not about to read 100 books a year. It is not something someone will strutt along and give you a medal for… So if you are one of those people who don’t read very fast, have a lot on your mind lately, have a lot of work or just like to spend your free time sometimes not reading, that is perfectly fine and you should remind yourself, this is not a competition of who manages to read the most books.
Being a reader is about choosing reads that interest you and reading with care and not with haste. Where is the enjoyment in that? Of course there might be books you find yourself not enjoying, so you might struggle through just to tick it off your Goodreads Challenge. But why bother? If you can’t bear the thought of having wasted your precious reading time with a book you didn’t enjoy at all, so at least you got to finish it so it will be counted for your reading challenge, again… why bother? If a number of books in your reading challenge is so important to you, then just mark it as read, mention in the ‘review’ you discontinued it. You probably will have read enough at this point to be able to talk about the book and stating why you didn’t like it, so that, for me, qualifies enough as to be valid being marked as read. The importance we put on the number of books we have actually read in comparrison to the quality of books, strikes me as quite funny lately. If you don’t want your time to be wasted, drop the book you’re not enjoying and pick up another one instead of struggling through just for the sake of statistics.
No one will look funny at you, if you don’t read 10 books a month. Of course it’s impressive if people do manage that and more, but personally I don’t waste a second thought about the amount of reading other people get done, as I know even if I did put all my freetime into reading (which I obviously don’t because I work, I have two cats one of them an epileptic, I have a household, I have Netflix, duh.) I wouldn’t manage to read that many books, because I’m a normal paced reader, I read entirely in a language that is only my second language and I think I wouldn’t be able to process everything I read properly, to even be able to write a proper review afterwards, if I would hurry through, skipping sentences or whole passages or just flying over them with my eyes. This would happen to me, if I were to try and read faster. So no, I don’t want to do that. I’m not a fast reader like some and that’s ok.
There are various circumstances why a person can either manage to read a lot, or only read little. And I don’t imply that people who do read a lot each month aren’t able to enjoy their reads. I’m just saying that I wouldn’t be able to and that every person is different, having different life circumstances and thus can’t be put into a cupboard of ‘You are a good reader, you managed your 10 books per month’ or ‘You are a bad reader you only read 2 books this month’. Read the way that is most enjoyable for you. If you like lenghty reads, but will only be able to read 1 or two books a month because of that? Great! Read just one or two books a month. If you are a fast reader and love to devour book after book? Great! Do your thing! If you just completely lack the motivation to read right now? No problem, just skip a month or two and start picking up a book again when you really feel like reading! There is no honour lost as a reader, no one is more or less intelligent for reading more or less books a month and again… don’t try to label everything. Because in the end, that is what you are doing with trying to force yourself to read a lot. You degrade yourself (and others who might have read even less than you) for not being able too read as much or as fast as others, when it isn’t even something you should feel bad about at all. Lately I read a lot of comments like ‘I feel bad if I don’t manage to read at least 5 books a month’ or ‘this reading month was horrible I ONLY read 7 books’… Honestly… If you are feeling that way, that’s in fact where your true problem lies, what you are truly doing wrong as a reader. Try instead to voice out your monthly reads like this: ‘I read this really amazing and touching book this month!’, ‘I fairly enjoyed my reads this month!’, ‘I didn’t get to read a book this month, but I watched this amazing show with a fabulous plotline!’. Nothing of those sentences is in any way degrading you or others. There is no hidden judgement of your capability as a reader implied unlike in statements such as stated above. So I hope you will be able to get back to the roots of enjoyable reading:
Most importantly remember: ENJOY!
If you have to exchange ‘enjoy your reading time’ with ‘hurry through your reading time and read as many books as you can fit into every minute of your life and optimize your reading and OMG I AM SO BEHIND READING SCHEDULE’… maybe take my post to heart and remember… the only one who apparently judges you for reading less… is you. Because as harsh as it sounds… no one else cares. 😉 So chill.