The Pros and Cons of a Yearly Reading Challenge
With the new year fresh on our minds, lists of resolutions are dotting social media and cropping up in casual conversation. Some of us--myself included--thrive under the pressure of setting a yearly goal. And as a book nerd, I can't help setting a yearly reading goal.
Although it might sound pretty basic on the surface, yearly reading goals can actually get complicated. For example, if you set yourself a goal to read a certain number of books per year, whether or not you meet the goal depends on your definition of a book. Some people don't think audiobooks and comic books count as "real books," though I disagree. That's just an example of one way reading challenges can get hairy.
I challenged myself to read 50 books in 2014. I'd heard such a feat was possible, but before that I'd only managed to read 37. Between being under-employed for five months of the year and not starting grad school until the fall, I managed to read 59 books (though, technically it's 60 since I read a friend's full length self-published book that isn't yet in the Goodreads database).
Since my 2014 goal was to read more books in a year than I ever had before, I found myself reading a lot of slim volumes. I didn't realize until later that that's precisely what a challenge like that incentivizes you to do.
But then I thought about the kind of reader I wanted to be and I decided I wanted to read more intimidating bigger books (like 375+ pages) and I wanted to read more diversely.
So my 2015 reading challenge is a little different. Now that I know I can read 60 books a year, that's not as important to me anymore. This year I want to read 45 books, but at least 10 of them have to be 375+ pages. And because I have half a shelf entirely of Latin American/Hispanic authors, I want at least 7 out of the 45 books to be by these authors. I plan to sprinkle some other diverse authors in there, but by far I have more Latin American/Hispanic-authored books than books by authors of any other race or ethnicity other than white people. (The saturation of white people in literature and publishing is a whole 'nother post.)
There are so many great stories from world literature and I want to explore them. And, frankly, I'm getting really bored of white people's stories. I mean, I'm white, my family is white... It gets old. I want to hear about people and places that I'm not as familiar with, so I'm excited about a reading challenge that incentivizes me to do that, not just to see how many books I can read in a year.
Personally, I keep track of my reading via Goodreads, but there's also Library Thing, Shelfari, or something as simple as a spreadsheet (allows you to calculate data!) or journal.