The Challenge of Reading

2015-GoodReads-ReadingChallengeSetting myself a reading challenge has a varied effect, it would seem, depending on the year! I’m not sure what that means about how I spend my time or how events impact my opportunities and drive to read. Right now, I’m not doing as well as I’d hoped for 2015.

GoodReads has a feature where you can set yourself a challenge for the year. Tied into Amazon, GoodReads has a reason for you to want to read more – so, a challenge makes sense on many levels. Before Amazon stepped in, it meant the site got a lot of new information added my willing and engaged users. Now, Amazon can profit from the drive to read more.

Anyway, I have tried the challenge for the last five years. It started innocently enough in 2011. I had joined the site and stumbled across the challenge. I decided to start slowly, with a challenge of reading 24 books, which I managed.

Come 2012, I clearly felt I had some to prove. Well, improve – because my pace of reading disappointed me on many levels. I set a challenge of 52 books, which I managed to battle through again with some to spare.

In 2013, I aimed to read as much as in the previous year, but it wasn’t going to happen. Setting a target of 60 books, I managed a meagre 33. I might have burnt out the previous year. Or, it could have been down to uncertainty in the real world around work and writing. I’m pretty sure that was the last time I produced any lengthy work of writing in my own right.

Onward to 2014, I opted to draw the target down to 42. I had started reviewing roleplaying books for GeekNative in September 2013, so it seemed like a good fit. I could read a mix of books – for review and for pleasure – and find my stride again. It seemed to work, with target achieved and a good variety of books consumed. I read history, horror, fantasy, self help, roleplaying and more. I managed to read some Vance and Vonnegut, and a splash of MacLean.

I suspect I imagined that this could continue into 2015, but I find the signs bode poorly. I have been reading a mix of history and games, mostly. What I do know is that I have been juggling more books than making progress. Perhaps this comes down to adopting a research mode, as I have been doing some writing and some adventure design. I have events later in the year that need me to complete some prep, and that means making notes, dipping into encyclopedic volumes, and following a trail of leads.

Right now, I’m 6 books behind schedule on a target of 52 books for the year. I can see that target drifting ever further away, with echoes of 2013. However, I also find that I’m not too bothered. I’m reading constructively and with purpose. That I’m find finishing a book difficult has nothing to do with the success involved in that reading. I have the drive to snatch and run, rather than continue through to the end.

Perhaps I don’t need the challenge this year to feel fulfilled in my reading. Maybe I can return to targets in 2016 and the prospect of seeing books through to the last page?






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