Lately I’ve noticed more and more emails from Goodreads popping up in my inbox surrounding my reading progress for 2017. It had been a few weeks since I had finished a book, and I received an email about my reading challenge. I then finished two books and each time I marked a book as “read,” I received another email. While I didn’t find all aspects of these emails troubling (in fact, I enjoyed that it linked to some of my GR friend’s reviews because I love checking out what my fellow bloggers think of books after I read them!) I am finding that’s it’s making me hyper aware of how fast and how much I’m reading.
The Goodreads Reading Challenge is pretty much the only reading challenge I’m able to consistently keep up with throughout the year, and I participate every year without fail because it’s such an easy way to track and keep up with how many books I’m reading. However, it also makes it very easy to compare how many books I’m reading vs. how many my friends are, and by bringing these stats into easily accessible focus, it sometimes makes me reevaluate my reading speed and reading “success.” I average anywhere from 50-70 books a year. In my real life social circles, this is considered to be a TON of books. I remember always being the first person I knew to finish a new Harry Potter novel (to the point where my mother came in and confiscated Deathly Hallows from me at 7am the day it was released because I had been up since the midnight release reading, and she insisted I needed at least a few hours of sleep). I always bust out my “number of books read in a year” statistics when I need a fun fact for an impromptu ice breaker game. It used to be something I was proud of.
Enter the world of book blogging, where you routinely have bloggers reading 200-300+ books a year. I admire and envy these readers who are able to get through so many books a year, a month, a week. But sometimes I’ll admit to having a sense of being less valid in my identity as a blogger because I’m only reading 50-70 books a year. I’ve often toyed with the idea of pushing myself to read more, but I’ve looked at my life and lifestyle choices and determined this would probably not be a good course of action.
Reasons Why I’m OK with Not Reading More Books Per Year:
- I read for comprehension. I still like taking my time and understanding all of the plot points of a book. It frustrates me when I forget a character’s name or don’t understand a reference, so I’ll go back and reread passages to ensure I’m understanding everything. However, this definitely slows down my reading pace.
- Trying to time or increase my reading speed STRESSES ME OUT. I tried it once, when I was reading Roseblood this past January, by using the BookOut app. The app was super cool and I loved all of the statistics it was able to give me, but then I started comparing myself to other people’s reading speed/pace and feeling woefully slow (I’m only reading a page per minute?! That means it’s going to take me 400 minutes to read a 400 page book? How are other people reading 3 pages per minute?! How can I increase my reading speed?! *Googles speed reading techniques for 2 hours*)
- I don’t like audiobooks. I’ve tried SO MANY and I just can’t with them. They bore me to tears. Unfortunately, this means no cranking through books on the car or during my commute.
- I feel deeply responsible for reviewing all of the books I read. Even backlist books where no one will probably bother reading the review- I still want to write and post them. And if I’m struggling to fit in more reading time, then I’ll definitely struggle fitting in all of the extra time to review those additional books.
- I work. A lot. I love my day job but it’s VERY time consuming. A 40 hour workweek is an anomaly for me, and sometimes when I’m NOT working I need to participate in activities where I’m not as focused as I like to be when reading, like watching TV or going for walks in the neighborhood or just calling my family members and shooting the breeze. I really like to be engaged when I read and have to be in the right mindset to absorb everything.
- I sometimes have to give myself breaks between books. If I read an especially intense book or a book I LOVED and am suffering from a book hangover, I don’t like to force myself to jump right into a new book. I need time for my literary palate to cleanse.
- I try to make room for other hobbies. I recently got back into running and finished 5k training program and have continued onto a 10k training program. I LOVE exercising but sometimes it comes down to the choice of using my after-work time to head to the gym or to read, and adulting pushes me often toward the more responsible choice of exercise.
So basically I am *trying* to make peace with the fact that I’m not reading 200 books a year like so many other bloggers and will likely NEVER be caught up on my TBR. But hey, I’m lucky to have time to read the amount of books I do get to, right?
How many books do you average per year? Are you satisfied with the amount? Have you ever actively tried to increase your reading pace/speed? Do you try to read for comprehension? What’s your “sweet spot” with the ideal number of books to read each year? Let me know in the comments!