This post originally appeared on the Times Union books blog here.
Along with the resolutions and changed habits that come with a new year come feeds pushing challenges to read a certain number of books for the upcoming year. And while I enjoy seeing the “year in books” Goodreads sends me as an avid user of the site, I will not be entering their reading challenge. Nor will I print out and complete a Bingo-style reading chart, promise to read a certain amount of classics, or read a book a day. Why? Because I like to have some control over my reading habits, sometimes my brain can’t wrap itself around Charles Dickens, and there are days I might read two books.
Frankly, life happens. And no one should have to feel bad about that. There are weeks where I stare longingly at my neglected books when family obligations override reading. I will even continue to request books knowing that eventually a particularly beautiful summer day (or a snowstorm as is the current situation here in upstate New York) will come along and I can tear through three.
Plus, I am a firm believer in following your interests. I didn’t read nonfiction until seven years ago. Now I can’t get enough. Luckily, book police do not come to your house if you have read fifty-nine self-help books and plan to read a sixtieth. Ultimately, making time to read and feeling content with the time you do dedicate to it is what matters.
A reading challenge could motivate the light- or non-reader to think about their reading choices and keep them honest about trying new books. Likewise, the same challenge might prompt a dedicated reader to have some fun. Me? I ride the wave of recommendations, reviews, bookstore visits, and deliveries to our library in shaping my TBR pile and I’m comfortable with that.
So, if you are a serial book challenge taker, what is your reason? And if you’re not, why not?