The Goodreads Reading Challenge

What is the answer to life, the universe and everything?

Why is a raven like a writing desk?


These are some of the greatest questions literature has posed it’s readers for the past century, and yet perhaps none has perplexed us quite as much as that which we are all faced with at the start of every year:

How many books should I read for the Goodreads Reading Challenge?

It’s not something one can simply decide on a whim; great thought and planning must go into making such an important decision. So exactly how does one decide?

Last year I took a rather objectionable approach, setting my reading challenge at a grand total of 1. The thinking behind it was simple: I was not feeling particularly literary, and I didn’t want to reach the end of the year having failed, instead every book read past that first one was an added bonus. On the one hand it worked; I read more than one book and didn’t feel like a failure come December 31st. However I look back now and wonder if I would’ve read more with that threat of failure looming over me.

We can spend all day surmising over whether that is necessarily a good thing* but for now I will instead propose to you three ways to approach this most important of questions.

1. It’s not a race, but if you must, race yourself
I made the monumental mistake yesterday of scrolling through my Goodreads feed at everyone else’s challenges. DON’T DO THIS. This is a challenge for YOU. Who cares what Joe Bloggs down the road is doing? However, if that competitive spirit is eating away at you, why not challenge yourself, or more specifically, your past self. If you read 50 books last year, this year try 65. If you read 100, try 125. Have a health competition against yourself.

2. Start small and work your way up to it.
Life is unpredictable, you never know what’s around the next corner. So why not start off the year with a low target, and see how it goes. You might get to August having already surpassed it, in which case you’ll already feel like you’ve won, and you can just up it again, knowing full way you’ve already achieved what January-you thought you might achieve in the whole year. Equally, you might get to August and be halfway through, in which case, you’re on schedule, you’ll get that email from Goodreads saying you’re doing great, keep on going, and you’ll feel fab!

3. Go big or go home.
I think you have to be a certain kind of person to do this one, but maybe that person is you! Why not set a target that seems almost impossible? That way you’ll either really go for it and win, and, look at that, you managed to read a crazy number of books! Or, you’ll really push yourself, not reach your target because, let’s face it, that was a crazy number, but in the process you’ll still have read a hell of a lot of books just trying to get there!

Whatever you decide to do, remember one thing: this is all about the joy of reading. It’s not about beating other people or forcing yourself to read when you don’t want to, it’s about spending time doing something you love. Remember that.




*Do we really need to be putting ourselves under pressure to read? Isn’t it just adding a level of negativity to our lives that we don’t need?

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