So at the start of this new year I thought it was about time I’d re-evaluate the way I look at reading and my reading habits in general, because of late I’ve been reading less and less and I really miss it. In order to break this cycle I feel I need to make some necessary changes to the way I read.
First of all I want to stop setting myself challenges when it comes to reading or, in case I do feel like entering a challenge of some sort, ensure that what I’m trying to do is manageable and with very little to no pressure.
A good example is the Goodreads reading challenge. I’ve been participating in this challenge since 2011 and I’ve always considered it to be a lot of fun. It’s an easy way to keep track of the number of books you read throughout the year, and initially it was a very good tool that encouraged me to read more.
At that time I was an English language and literature student who often went through reading slumps because I had so much reading to do for uni that I hardly read for pleasure anymore. Still I managed to find time to get through some of my reading list, especially over Christmas and summer breaks.
Now that I’m in full-time employment and have fewer days off throughout the year, I find I have less time to devote to reading. I can’t read when I’m very busy and stressed out, so reading time usually gets pushed back to the weekends (if I’m not too busy doing other stuff or too tired to read during the weekend).
I feel that in my current way of life reading challenges actually have the opposite effect on me. Rather than motivating and encouraging me to read more, they stress me out because it’s constantly reminding me of the fact that I’m not reading enough. Working full-time and all the other adult responsibilities that come with it are stressful enough on their own, so I don’t need anything that adds any extra stress to my life. Especially something that’s supposed to help you relax and wind down.
Looking at the Goodreads reading challenges that I’ve set myself in the past I’ve only managed to complete them twice, in 2012 and 2015 respectively. In 2012 I challenged myself to read 40 books and managed to actually read a grand total of 43 books! Therefore I challenged myself to read 50 books in 2013 and failed. I actually managed to read 43 books again, which is something I haven’t been able to do again since then. This is what I mean when I talked about realistic goals earlier. I can’t expect myself to read 50 odd books a year on top of all the other activities I do that keep me busy in my everyday life. Not to mention the fact that setting yourself unrealistic goals negates the whole purpose of challenging yourself in the first place.
So the only thing I’m challenging myself to reading-wise in 2017 is to make more time to read. Log out of Netflix and put away my iPhone, light some candles, make a cuppa and actually try to wind down with a great book like I used to do.
Only time will tell how well I’ll do on this “unchallenge”, but no matter what I’m sure it’ll be a lot more enjoyable!