I have been thinking a lot about this sentiment for a little while now. I’ve been a little overwhelmed with life in general (social media, a lot of things happening in my personal life etc) for some time, and it comes with the territory that reading is becoming a little overwhelming for me.
Ariel Bissett created a video at the end of last year about reading being a competition, and it just reiterated all of my thoughts – however I’ve never shared those thoughts anywhere so far. Recently I’ve talked a lot about my TBRs and YALC reading, which has an air of pressure around it. This pressure I do actually enjoy, it’s a little challenge for myself and I get to know that I’m reading books that will matter to me in a few months when I can join in conversation with so many people about them. I want to talk about a different kind of reading competition, and even some blogging competition in this post.
Ever since i started to read more, maybe five years ago now, i counted what i was reading. Right down to knowing how many short stories i’d read that year, how many Fanfic’s and obviously, how many books. This was something that was incredibly important to me from the start. I wasn’t necessarily in competition with anyone at this point, i just liked to keep a record of how much i was reading to try and beat myself almost. As i started blogging and became much more invested in the world of YA, new releases and keeping up with everyone else, I noticed my reading changed.
I suddenly felt bad about what i was reading if it wasn’t the latest release. If i hadn’t read that new release faster than other people and more so, if i wasn’t reading as much as others in general. It’s a fact that we all have different reading paces. We all have different amounts of time we can dedicate to reading alongside our lives and other hobbies, so we’re all bound to have varying amounts of books that we read in a certain amount of time.
In the last few years i’d always set myself the goal to read fifty-two books in a year, one book a week and what i find to be a very do-able task. Some people have their goals set much higher, one-hundred books maybe, or some even more. Seeing these targets still bothers me and i don’t feel as though i’m a ‘proper’ reading for not being able to read this many books over a certain period of time. I’m still jealous of those people who can whiz through one or two books in a day, smashing their targets. That’s just not my capability and how i read.
Ariel says in her video that also reading challenges change the way we read. We no longer read for pleasure but we are plagued by ‘I need to read shorter books to meet this challenge.’ I’ve done this myself, i particularly remember doing it at the end of 2017 in order to finish my fifty-two books. Yes, it allowed me to read some graphic novels i may have not got to otherwise. However it meant i was missing out on reading some books that i was excited about, and still now probably haven’t gotten around to them.
I’ve been thinking for a while now about completely abandoning my goal for this year. I know i’m about half way there at the mid-point in June, so very on track. However i’d like to find out how many books i’d actually read without the tracker letting me know how many i have until target. If i just started reading for pleasure, books of all sizes and genres, how would it effect my challenge? Admittedly as a blogger, a lot of my anticipated books are those new releases that everyone is reading at the moment, so it wouldn’t be too much of a shock that after YALC all i did was catch up on those popular books. However if i eliminated the tracker, would i read so much more knowing i was free in the world of books? It’s something i’m still going to think about a little longer i think.
Speaking of the pressure of new releases, for me i also feel as though blogging has become some kind of challenge that everyone has jumped on. I guess it always has been. With how great publisher relationships have been with bloggers in the last year or two, and the connection with authors and bloggers, i feel as though everything has turned in to a competition of who can get what. ARCs for example are extremely highly thought of. I’ve lost count of how many times i’ve been questions ‘how did you get that?’ when i’ve thanked a publisher for an ARC. If one blogger has it, it seems as though we all want it.
It’s exactly the same with events. We’ve been lucky enough to interview some incredible authors in the last few months thanks to some great opportunities but forward by our bloggers group in Manchester. It has saddened me to notice even with myself if i see someone interviewing an author i love i question why i don’t have that, where is my opportunity?
I feel as though the sense of community has been lost almost with the book bloggers, jealousy has heightened and i think some of this is down to us being unable to deal with how much other bloggers are reading and getting done. I know i also get frustrated when i see other bloggers posting more, and feel the need to write as much as i can (no matter how bad) just to catch up.
What i’m trying to get at is this entire world we’ve created out of a solitary activity has been publicly thrown out to be made in to a competition. Ariel mentions this in her video and i think she’s entirely right. Now and then i do enjoy the competition of reading, but only when pitted against myself. I want to enjoy the books that i’m reading and completely take them in, something i know i don’t do if i’m trying my best to finish a book. Understandably if i have to read a book quickly for an event or interview, it’s a different matter. But i might knock-off my reading challenge in order to enjoy what i’m reading for the read of the year and eliminate some of that self-given pressure.
If you’ve made it all the way to the end, well done. And please leave some thoughts about this topic in the comments, i want to hear everyone else’s opinions. I have a lot more to say on this topic, i don’t want to leave this post being too long. Let’s start a conversation.