I’ve spoken a lot about my ~resolutions~ to read less books, so I can give myself more time for other hobbies. This was something I resolved to do for 2016 and again in 2017. Book blogging has done a wonderful job of introducing me to countless friends, new authors, and books I never would have thought to pick up. It’s also wildly increased my reading numbers. This is really great and makes me feel super accomplished! I love reading. But lately, I’ve hated the pressure to read.
I was often 13 books ahead on my reading challenge this year. This was mostly because I binge-listened to a series with thirteen short books. But still! I was ahead! Then, I hit my slow reading month in October and ended up catching up to be just “on track” by the end of December. I found myself on December 15th needing to finish 6 more books in order to complete my challenge. What happened?! Instead of saying “oh well” and just reading as much as I genuinely wanted to read, I pushed myself to finish it off. It ended up working out well because I squeezed in more holiday reads than expected.
Because of the unnecessary pressure to read, I’ve actually ended up reducing my Goodreads challenge each year. I see most of my friends reading more and setting a higher goal each year since I started blogging, but mine has gone down. You can see from the picture that I blew my 2014 challenge out of the water because that was before I started blogging. I ended up reading 91 books instead of 20… LOL. In 2015, I read 180 books when I set my goal to 175. I did so much analyzing for that challenge number because it was the first “real” year I was blogging and participating. I wanted it to be challenging but not too difficult to achieve. I went with 175 because I figured I would average 3 audiobooks and month and 3-4 books a week. 175 was a happy medium because I thought 180 would be overdoing it. (Looks like I achieved that anyways!) I decided to move down to 160 for 2016 because I figured I’d read between 12-14 books per month in one way or another. This is how my reading was broken down throughout most of 2016. (No December because I captured this when I hadn’t finished yet.)
As you can see, I definitely had some great months and some not-so-great months. I was consistently stuck around 11-12 books each month in the latter part of the year because I was so burned out. All of those rereads in March and April were from the series binge I did with short audiobooks. Without those, I wouldn’t have even been close to my challenge unless I forced it. I was able to read 20 books or more because of them. Again, those were challenge-savers that are probably never happening again.
So why am I continually reducing my challenge?
I’d like to start remembering the books I read.
When I read too much, too quickly… I have no idea what I read. I look back on the year and I’m like “woah, I read THAT this year? I thought it was last year?” and say other things like “what the fuck even happened in that book? I don’t remember anything.” Yeah, it’s not fun. It’s also a very good thing I write my reviews ASAP after reading instead of waiting until the release date and/or generally procrastinating. I’m lucky if I even remember character names a few weeks after reading the book. Seriously.
Book blogging has opened me up to more fandoms and hobbies
than just books… and those things take up some time.
I’ve expanded my horizons quite a bit beyond just reading, thanks to all the passionate and creative people I chat with on a regular basis. A group of bloggers got me obsessed with Sailor Moon for a while. I took podcast recs from people on Twitter and started getting a bit addicted instead of listening to audiobooks. I followed the screeching toward new TV shows like Stranger Things. I got fulllllly into the Marvel universe (mostly from Chris but definitely from blogger enthusiasm too). I started planning and then bullet journaling. There are so many other shows, movies, and activities I could list on here because bloggers brought something shiny and new to my attention. The thing is though, I LOVE THIS. I like having new hobbies to take up time! But if my Goodreads challenge is too high, I won’t feel like I can actually give them attention.
I would rather kick the goal’s ass than not meet it.
I know there’s a big huge chance I’ll become addicted to reading and read anywhere between 150 and 180 books. I’ve done it before so I know I CAN. I would much rather have a slightly smaller goal and actually meet it than feeling the constant pressure to read more more more. I don’t want to rely on rereading a childhood book series to get ahead this year. I just want to read a normal amount of books and be happy with it.
My interest in audiobooks has waned.
I alluded to this already but I just don’t have the same obsession with audiobooks anymore. In 2015, I was pretty addicted. I always had an audiobook going and pretty much never listened to anything else. Now? I have quite a few podcasts I enjoy keeping up with, plus many more on the docket hopefully. I also have turned back to listening to music more often when I just don’t want to focus on anything. I have Apple Music and am trying to get my money’s worth. Instead of finishing around 3-4 audiobooks per month, I’d rather stretch out 1-2. I can’t count on those same numbers to beef up my challenge anymore.
My reading time has also dwindled a bit more.
I already mentioned that other hobbies have come into play here, so that’s a big part of this. Chris and I like to watch shows together after work or go hiking or skiing on the weekend. Actually, ya know, DOING THINGS with him and other people really stomps on my reading time. I used to always settle in with a book on weeknights or read all morning on the weekend. Doing other things instead means less reading time. And I’m totally fine with it! I enjoy reading in the morning before work or right before bed, but I also enjoy watching my shows when I have alone time.
What number did I settle on this year?
If you haven’t already seen it already somewhere on the interwebs, I decided to go down by 10 books and am aiming to read 150 books in 2017. First of all, it was the number that kind of popped into my head right away. It just had that RIGHT feeling for me. Second, I did some math out (of course I did) and figured out it was the average of my “worst case scenario” and “most likely/best case scenario” numbers. If my reading is on the lower side (like 2 books per week and 2 audiobooks per month), I’d finish 120 books. If it’s on the higher side (3 books per week and 3 audiobooks per month), I’d finish 180. Because I know myself and realize I’ll probably fall somewhere in the middle, the actual average between those two is 150 books. I’ll probably be somewhere between 10-15 books per month, which is fine by me! I also assume I’ll read more graphic novels this year and those are pretty darn quick to read. I started the year with three Harry Potter novellas too, so I can already feel the success within reach!
I set my goal at 1 book this year for this reason. I’ll obviously be reading more than that. But this way I wasn’t stressed.
It’s definitely important to find a balance between reading and other interests. I’ve never been one to set particularly high reading goals because a) I’m a surprisingly slow reader and b) I frequently don’t have time available. I USED to just work WAY too many hours in the week, and now I have a 7 month old so still don’t get a ton of me time, lol.
In the past, I’ve typically set a goal around 75, and usually come in just above or just below. My rationale? I get through about 1 audio book per week (52/yr) and about 1 “real” book per month (12/yr) with random spurts of going a neck of a lot faster (so an extra 10 or so). This year I’m actually setting a goal of only 50 instead because I’d like to switch some of my reading time to be WRITING time. Of course, I also have a monstrous commute now, so I might blow it out of the water just with audio books!
Haha I understand your lack of time, for sure!
I love your rationale! I totally did all the math out too – as you can see haha.
So proud of you for picking a goal that’s realistic and fits the lifestyle you want to have most! I also lowered my goal this year and I’m feeling great about the extra time I’m going to be devoting to friends and family and other interests 🙂 And you reminded me that I have to get back to my Sailor Moon re-watch!
Yess I’m so glad I found a good number 🙂 I know it’s not a huge decrease (10 books) but it’s just enough to feel less pressure and still read lots of comics without feeling “guilty” because they’re so short!
I used to be one of those people who always pushed to increase my reading challenge goal on Goodreads! Even though I don’t pressure myself at all to meet those goals, I do tend to read a lot in a year as most of my free time used to be dedicated to just reading, reading, reading.
In the last year, however, I’ve realized that I also enjoy doing other things – watching new (or new-to-me) TV shows, doing fun New York things with friends, bullet journaling, taking photos, playing video games, to name a few – and I’ve been neglecting them in favor of reading. That felt really skewed to me, so I decided I’d be more deliberate about my reading in 2017! Additionally, I also wanted to make time to read longer books since I have so many of them on my TBR. So, I’ve set my goal to 150 books – just like you! 🙂
Yes same here! I do so much reading that it’s natural to set a high goal, but eliminating pressure was my #1 priority for this year.
Being deliberate is definitely important too. I’m trying to request books I genuinely care about. Your picky pledge is a great idea! Good luck with 150 too 🙂
I went down with my goal this year by a little. I am just busier and it is hard to fit in reading time. I also go through ups and downs with audiobooks. I sometimes binge watch a ton of TV so the audios go on hold or I listen a ton and TV is on the back burner. I also don’t want to feel pressured so much and have time for some bigger books ( I’m looking at you Outlander!!). We will see. Glad you found a number that works for you!
Yes, same here! I can do a few audiobooks a month or not even finish one. For me it usually depends on the podcasts I may or may not be addicted to at the moment!
I’ve gone down a little every year too. A lot of it was simply lifestyle changes giving me less and less reading time. Then it hit a point where I was having that same issue of not remembering what I had read (so glad I’m not alone there lol). But really, even though I love books and I love to read… sometimes I just want to be entertained instead of having to work for my entertainment. So I’ve been making time for a TV show or movie here and there. I find that when I make time for other things I that enjoy doing I enjoy my reading much more.
Thanks for this post. I was starting to think maybe I was a bad book blogger or reader. 😛
Yes definitely! I get sick of forgetting character names 10 minutes after reading the book hahah. It’s fun to find a balance between other hobbies 🙂
Since 2013, the amount of books I read went down a lot. Mostly because I wasn’t well or too tired to read and I also had a lot of book slumps in there, too. But even then, I was never reading 100+. I think it’s important to read for quality vs quantity. Better to read less, engage with it, savour, process, then be in a rush. You should never feel hurried when you’re doing a hobby – it’s time meant for doing something you love and we should treasure that! I also enjoy TV and that’s a priority for me as well, so it definitely depend on what you want to spend your time on. Have fun reading this year!
It can be fun to read a variety of books and I feel like I get something out of all the books I read, just because the best ones and the worst ones are bound to stick out in my mind. If anything, it kind of helps me realize which books were forgettable. However, it’s fun to focus on other hobbies too 🙂
I find bloggjng and the reading community to be a tad competitive. I read and blog solely for enjoyment which is why i will never put pressure on myself to read a crap load of books. I have loooads of hobbies and sometimes I would just rather watch TV after work than read. I never feel guilty about this.
You can read as much or as little as you want. I like reading a lot of books, so I do.
At times sometimes I do feel like a “bad blogger” or less dedicated one, since last year I only set my goal for 50 books. And while I know it should be more about quality than quantity, I feel like I have less of a grab bag of read titles to pull from when it comes to book recommendation posts and TTT posts. However, like you, I’d read set my goal lower and not have to stress about meeting it. I’m hoping to gradually increase my goal by 5-10 books a year until I find a sweet spot, but I’m still trying to figure out what that spot is with working full time. Like you, Max and I really also enjoy watching tv after work as a way to unwind so that takes up quite a bit of my reading time!
I know what you mean! It’s really hard to find the right balance. I spend a LOT of time reading, compared to commuting or doing other things, and most of my blogging time happens on and off during breaks of the work day. If I blogged AT home, after work, I would read a lot less!
In any case, I STILL have trouble pulling books for TTT posts haha I feel repetitive.
This is everything! I reduced mine drastically last year because I was pregnant and oh so tired. Too tired to read, but not too tired for Netflix.
This year with having an infant on my hands, I knew my time would not be my own. Though I am learning to make time for myself again. The first months were so hard and I barely read/blogged. Now I’m trying to get back at it.
I love all the reasons you reduced your goal. Time for other hobbies, family and friends. All great things. Balance is important.
I’m curious about podcasts. I keep meaning to figure it all out and find out what I need to do to listen to them, so now you’ve given me the push I need to get that looked into. 🙂
Good luck with your goal and keep the balance going!