52 weeks and not as many books

I took on a reading challenge about 52 weeks ago. The idea was that I’d read one book a week for 52 weeks. We’re at the 52 week-mark, and I didn’t read 52 books, but I read a good number of books.

You can check out my Goodreads shelf to see what I read.

My read shelf looks like a hodge podge of random books. There are books from, and inspired by some of my grad courses. There are academically-oriented books related to my interests. And there are fiction books here and there. I need to read more fiction.

I don’t feel one way or another about this particular “challenge.” (Why must we always engage in “challenges” of a sort? Why not just read and enjoy?) I was curious to see if I could read one book a week. I think I can but early on in the challenge I discovered that trying to finish a book in 7 days felt rushed and crammed. Not to mention, many of the books that interest me tend to be on the longer and denser side.

At some point I abandoned the idea of reading one book a week. Instead, I shifted my focus to how many books I’ll read in 2016.

Goodreads has a nice tracker where you set a goal for how many books you want to read each year. Last year I set a goal to read 20 books and read 13. I set the same goal for this year and so far I’ve read 17 books.

Looking at my reading habits from the last year, I learned that reading 20 books in one year is a good start for someone who never was a voracious reader. (Although I love books. Funny how that works.)

I rediscovered an appreciation for reading during the “challenge,” but I also learned that such challenges aren’t for everyone. Reading goals are nice. But when you include the smattering of other reading materials in to the mix, there’s a tendency to read for reading’s sake. There’s not enough time in the day to read everything, or everything you want to read. This made me frustrated. I learned throughout the challenge that it’s okay to not read your “goal” or to read everything. Unless I have some kind of magic time-warping-looping machine (like Hermoine’s time turning necklace), I won’t be able to read everything. Such is life. But I can read the things that are of interest to me and enjoy them, if that’s the last thing I do. It’s not the end of the world if this year I read less than 20 books. Life happens. As awesome as books are, it’s not everything.

It seems like everyone wants to read more, which is great. I would like to read more but the challenge is finding what interests you rather than reading X number of books. I guess this is where the depth over breadth argument comes in. Except for introductory textbooks, why read something that you’re not really into?



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