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!
I’ve only really started to track books on Good reads this year, but I reckon probably around 80? I have quite a long commute though (1.5 hours each way) so I get through a lot of audiobooks and ebooks!
I wish I could read on my commute! Sometimes I’m tempted to try but I always end up zoning out when I listen to audiobooks!
This is such a great post! Sometimes I get a little jealous or wonder how other bloggers are reading 200 or more books per year. I read about 90-120, which comes out to a book every 3 or 4 days. I think it’s a good number. I read pretty fast, but I also don’t read all the time. Like you, I want to have time for other hobbies. I don’t think the number of books you read makes you any less of a blogger; everyone is different. Plus, I really applaud you for writing reviews for every book you read – I definitely don’t do that!
90-120 books is really impressive! My ideal goal would be 2 books per week, but honestly sometimes I’m lucky if I’m able to finish even one! I actually feel like I used to read faster and have slowed down since I started blogging- maybe because I’m trying to up my comprehension so I have more to talk about in my reviews (especially since I ususally don’t take notes while I read). But then when I’m REALLY excited for a book I tend to speed through it, especially if I’m trying to avoid spoilers (this just happened to me with ACOWAR!)
I hear you! I usually average around 120-140 books per year but I always look at those 200-300+ books a year readers and I’m like how do you do it?! Even with the amount of books I read, I feel like I’m a really slow reader but I’m able to read as much as I do because I commute for 4 hours per day to work. I actually lowered my goodreads goal this year to 75 books to take some pressure off, but when I was 14 books ahead of schedule, I upped my goal to back to 100 and I think that helped me have a better beginning of my reading year. I don’t really love the new emails GR sends when you finish a book because I’m like, yes I know I finished that book- I just told YOU that!
Right?! It seems counter intuitive for GR to send those emails! I have a long commute time too and wish I could leverage it for reading! Do you read via audiobooks on your commute, or actual physical or ebooks?
I almost always read physical books but I really want to try audio! I do ebooks if I want to read something that’s just too heavy to carry lol!
Actually this is the one thing that irks me about the book blogging world. I’ve always read for enjoyment, and blogging about certain books and reading others’ book blogs is a supplement to a hobby I already love. I like knowing I’m reading a lot, but comparing stats and competing would definitely take the fun out of it for me. Great discussion though! I really enjoyed reading.
Thank you, Sarah! I’m glad that you’re able to stay away from the competitive mindset that can sometimes come along with book blogging, it can definitely be exhausting! Honestly, I’m not sure I could go back to just being a reader without the blogging because I’m so entrenched in the community now.
Truthfully, I forget about the Goodreads Challenge. It’s something that runs in the background. I always have a book on the go but I find it I don’t finish a book quickly (ie within a week) my attention wanes and I don’t enjoy it as much. I also like completing books regularly because it makes me feel like I accomplished something (ie I was being productive). But I have been panicking lately about my specific TBR challenges because April has been a disaster for them. I underestimated how much work cuts into my reading schedule.
My only saving grace has been audiobooks. It took me a long time to get comfortable with them (it’s been a 2 year process truthfully) but I’ve had a lot of success with them lately!
I am SO bad at TBR challenges- too often life gets in the way for me to focus and keep track of specific challenges, though I try every year! Often times the Goodreads challenge is the only one I’m actively aware of haha. What are some of the books that really changed your opinion of audio books? I’ve nearly given up hope!
I started with a lot of nonfiction memoirs for audiobooks and that helped me get use to the format. And then when I started work, I started with some YA contemporary fiction picks and fell in love with audiobooks. Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda was a real winner for me. And the Veronica Mars novels were fabulous as well.
I love this post! I can definitely relate– I usually average between 60-80 books per year. It’s hard not to compare yourself to bloggers reading 200+ books per year! I try to reason with myself that everyone’s life is different. Work and school definitely inhibit my reading, too. And, oh man, paying attention to my reading speed stresses me out so much! It’s why I had to stop using Bookout. My Goodreads challenge never really stresses me out, because I always set it at 52 books (one per week for the year), so I’m almost always a few books ahead of that.
Oh I like the idea of having a consistent Goodreads challenge every year! I feel like when I started working full time I had to decrease my goal, and have been slowly trying to increase it every year since to get back to where I was!
I normally average around 100 books a year (although the past 2 years have been rather sparse) and I have pretty much the same reasons as you for not reading more. Mostly, I feel responsible to post a review for every book I read (mostly all full-size reviews; I can’t remember the last time I did a mini review) which slows things down considerably. I’m also a huge fan of Netflix and I constantly have more shows to watch which sometimes take precedent over reading. Keeping up with everything can be a little intimidating sometimes! This is such a great topic, Cristina!
Thanks Laura! As I’m sure you know, I am a fan of writing full length reviews too- I always feel as though I’m somehow “cheating” if I do a mini-review!
I really think that whatever is comfortable for you IS a good number! I mean, I do not understand for the life of me how people can read 300 books a year- that’s basically a book a day! And even if they are the fastest readers in all the land… just HOW!? I simply don’t have the hours in the day! Still, I understand the way you feel when you compare yourself- which like, logically we shouldn’t, but can’t help doing anyway 😉 I assume that those people just have flat out more time? And I have come to terms with it. This year, I let a random number generator pick my goal, but it was RUDE and gave me a high number anyway ?
The past few years, I have hovered between 130-150. The damn number generator gave me 139. I wanted to stress LESS, not more, but alas. I STILL get that “must be ahead of my Goodreads goal” feeling, I think it’s just stubbornness and/or competitiveness. I am glad that you have mostly found peace with your numbers- because like I said, if it works for you, then it is a success in my opinion! Love this post!
Thank you, Shannon! That’s wild that you let a random number generator pick for you- I feel like I wouldn’t be able to relinquish that much control and leave my goal up to fate! And I totally agree- I am still unsure how some people manage to read so many books per year, I wish I had that sort of time!
Yep, I’m with you. I think the only reason I read as much as I do is because I can get other things (blogging, review writing, checking out other blogs) during slow periods of my work day. I listen to a lot of audiobooks (except when podcasts inevitably take over!). Without those, I’d probably read at LEAST 25 less books per year. I usually get to 2-4 per month, depending on their length (or again the fricken podcast addiction). I’ve been trying to read less and reduce my GR goal each year because I do want to focus on other hobbies! I now reserve reading for lunch breaks sometimes, in the morning before work, and the evening before bed. I usually try to enjoy time with Chris on the couch or out and about after work instead of reading from the minute I get home until bed. It’s better to be more balanced that way!
Also, I totally stopped using the Bookout app. It was more the act of timing (the process of it) that annoyed me! Chris talks to me when I read a lot, so I’d have to press pause every time he said something to me because I wanted my stats to be accurate. It was a huge pain in the ass.
Yes, sometimes when I get home from work I really just need to ZONE OUT, and sometimes that means reading, sometimes it means watching TV or just talking with the BF. Glad to know I’m not the only one who couldn’t stand to use BookOut long term- I totally know what you mean, it was annoying having to pause it to get up for a minute or to answer a text message! I’m trying to be more intentional this summer (once stuff at work calms down) about setting aside designated time each week throughout the week to read and blog…if not it piles up and I have to spend HOURS on the weekend (like I am right now, haha) trying to catch up with it all.
I used to not even care about how many books I read, then I joined the community and cared A LOT. After starting a blog, I noticed the amount I read went WAY down because I just didn’t have time. Now, I’m trying not to even notice. I changed my GR reading goal to 1 and I’m just reading while I find time. I actually noticed I’ve been reading MORE since then. Funny how that works lol But I probably read about 50 per year? on average? Just because I’m a slow reader and, like you, I try to make time for other hobbies!
That’s really interesting that you’re reading MORE now that you’re not monitoring your goal! Funny how that happens! I think it can just get SO discouraging if you’re watching it closely and have a bad reading month (I think I only read 3 books in April!) and then it just all seems so overwhelming like you can’t catch up…it can get that way with blogging too! I’m glad that you seem to have found a system that works for you, though!
I agree with a lot of this. and to be honest I don’t WANT to read that many books a year- I feel like if I was reading 200-300 a year how could I possibly remember or appreciate all of them? I probably read 1-2 books a week, but sometimes just one and occasionally three, but I’m pretty comfortable with that pace. And like you said- compared to almost everyone I know in RL, I read a TON.
I can’t do audio either. And I’m terrible at keeping my Goodreads updated so I don’t get too many emails lol. I totally get what you’r saying though. Great post!
1-2 books a week is a LOT when you think about it! Especially if you’re not doing audio- I feel like everyone always tells me I just haven’t found the right narrator or whatever, but I really think audio books just really don’t click well with me! My mind ALWAYS wanders!
I read like 30 books a year so….. I am a SNAIL in the book blogging world. I used to feel inadequacy about it, and also kind scared because OMG IT’S GOING TO TAKE ME A VERY LONG TIME TO GET THROUGH MY UNREAD BOOKS AT THAT RATE, LET ALONE MY WISHLIST.
I wish there was more time to read books, and sometimes I wish I was a faster read. BUT there is also more to life than books. Yeah, I said it. As amazing as a good story is, it’s also important that we live our own. We are our own protagonists after all. 🙂
I’m facepalming at the amount of typos in that comment. 🙁 THIS IS NOT MY NORMAL TYPING KEYBOARD.
I love that- you’re totally right, we are definitely our own protagonists! And also, though you may only read 30 books a year, your reviews are so epic and well thought out that it’s totally worth it! 🙂
When I was a fresh book blogger like 5 years a go (I’m back with a whole new blog after a couple years off), I succumbed to the pressures of reading ALL THE BOOKS. My GR Challenge was like 150? But it was a pace I couldn’t sustain. I’m a mood reader. Sometimes I’m in the mood to read everything, sometimes I leave my books untouched for weeks. Then the GR Challenge became discouraging, and so I started making it more realistic.
Then I realized that I like the kind of stats that enlighten me about my reading habits – like how I rarely read Contemporary, but I almost always give them a really high rating. Why don’t I read more Contemporary? Or what publishers I tend to rate lower – maybe I shouldn’t be so quick to pick up their newest release until I get a feel for how it’s being received by readers. Once I focused in on these “stats” I stopped caring so much about my volume ones 🙂
Welcome back to the blogging world! 🙂 I definitely agree with you that stats surrounding what you’re reading and rating are much more interesting than how many books you’re reading. I have a handy spreadsheet that I use to track those sort of stats and I have to say I am ALWAYS surprised by the results! It’s fascinating!
What a fantastic post! I definitely feel pressure to read more, but like you, I prefer to remember what I read and I tend to go back and reread passages multiple times if something isn’t completely clear. I find that when I read over 200 books in a year, I couldn’t really remember them. So 120-150 is a good goal for me, and 50-70 is fantastic too, especially since you review everything you read. That’s amazing!
I think with blogging and reading, jealousy likes to rear its ugly head when it can, but it’s important to remember that it’s NOT a competition, and that it’s okay to work and live outside of books. 🙂
Mary @ Mary Had a Little Book Blog
So eloquently said! I think having a hobby that’s so engrained with social media that it can be hard not to compare yourself to others sometimes, and I’m glad I’m not the only one who sometimes feels this way! I have to say though, 120-150 books a year is truly impressive!!
[…] Cristina @ Girl in the Pages chats about annual reading goals […]
I love this, and I totally feel the same way. I read more than anyone I know in real life, but a lot less than the average book blogger. “Keeping up” is rough, especially because I have other things I prioritize. As long as you are enjoying yourself, I don’t think it matters how much you read! I always look forward to hearing about the books you read, especially because I think we have the same taste in books.
Thank you so much for the kind words, Amaris! <3 I definitely feel that struggle of "keeping up" (I only read 3 books last month and definitely feel "behind" because of it!) but at the end of the day reading and blogging is what I love and I'm happy for any amount of time I am able to spend on it!
I have a similar experience – I had a friend who was amazed that I’ve read 15 books so far this year, and I couldn’t help but think that it was a really small number compared to other bloggers!
I think in the last five years I’ve averaged around 20-40 books a year, with the number increasing since I started my book blog. I feel that having a blog gives me extra motivation to finish books quicker, because I want to share my reviews. That said, I’ve pretty much accepted that I’m a slower reader than most book bloggers. If I can meet my GR goal of 30 books this year, I’d be content!
30 books is nothing to be ashamed of! I think especially as a blogger I have come to accept reading a smaller amount of books than others as OK, because reviewing books takes a lot of time and thought! Blogging definitely is a great motivator to read more, but it also creates more work around what you read- a double-edged sword!
I enjoyed this post. I am so happy I’m not the only one who dislikes audio books. I’ve tried them and find myself tuning them out. I’d love to love them during commutes and travel (sometimes I get car sick reading). I try to read for comprehension too and study how an author made passages work/reread poetic parts to improve my own writing, so I read slowly. Therefore my book totals are smaller than I’d like, but then again, I’ll never run out of books to read.
YES I literally cannot do audio books! For some reason I love podcasts and they hold my attention much better. I think reading to improve your own writing is so important, and I like that you point out that it’s one of the reasons you take your time with books!
I only read 50 books a year and I have always felt like that was a lot. I have seen many people read a lot more, but I just don’t have that much time to read. I have to fit it in. I want to enjoy the books I read and sometimes there are books that take more time to read. I feel that there is nothing wrong with reading slower.
This is exactly how I am! I’m currently reading Lord of Shadows and it’s over 600 pages long, and I could read 2-3 other pages in the same amount of time, but I don’t want the number of books I read to overshadow my desire to read certain books! I’m lucky if I can squeeze in 30 minutes of reading a day, it’s an activity that’s a real treat for me, so I try to be happy for the number of books I DO manage to get through!