Goodreads Challenge 2017

I have been waiting all year to check my actual reading against my 2016 reading challenge via Goodreads, and to set a new goal. The time has finally arrived.

In 2016 I set myself a goal of 52 books to read. I’ve never kept track of the number of books I’ve read in a year before, so I had no idea where my goal should be. 52 books seemed like a reasonable starting point. Now I am pleased to announce that I surpassed that initial goal, having read 73 books this past year! Here are some of my stats:

Books: 73

Pages: 32,659

Avg. Pages Per Day: 89.5

Shortest Book: The Tales of Beedle the Bard by J. K. Rowling (111 pages)

Longest Book: Voyager by Diana Gabaldon (1,059 pages)

Avg. Length: 447

Avg. Rating: 4.3 stars

Completion: 140 %

I think it’s really cool that Goodreads includes this page of stats from the reading year!

Before I move on to setting a goal for next year, however, I wanted to voice some of the thoughts I’ve had in my first year of participating in the Goodreads reading challenge.

To begin, this is not only my first year with the Goodreads challenge (although not with Goodreads more generally), but it is also my first year blogging about books. I have never kept such close track of how many books I was reading, when I read them, and just how much I enjoyed or disliked them. It was easy to see how one might be more caught up in the tracking than the reading, but I tried very hard not to let that happen. Although I have never felt so much pressure to read more, to read better books, and to come up with some impressive numbers, it’s important to me that reading should never feel like a chore. Thus, I still read things that didn’t count towards my Goodreads challenge. I reread books that I didn’t want to count towards my challenge. I read bits and pieces of children’s and middle grade books to my younger brother, just for the fun of it, even though I wouldn’t count partial or children’s books towards my challenge. I read newspaper and magazine articles, poems, comics, recipes, and snippets of lots of other things throughout the year that I wouldn’t count toward my challenge. The challenge is a fun motivator, but I think it’s important not to let the tracking take over one’s life. So far, I think I’ve succeeded.

Second, while I think the yearly Goodreads challenge can be a great way to help me read more, the number of books read is not the only way to do that. I read some very long books this year–including the entire Outlander series–and although I wouldn’t say they were my favorite books of all time, I did immensely enjoy reading them, and I’m glad I read all eight of those behemoth novels rather than twice or three times as many shorter ones that would’ve boosted my total number of completed books. The Goodreads community can be problematic in increasing the pressure to track books for others to see–but who would I be trying to impress with a giant list of short books? Not that there’s anything wrong with short books. I read some of those this year, too. I think it’s important to read for yourself, no matter what your books of choice are, to make your experience with books the best it can be for you personally. Read to impress yourself.

Third, I loved that using Goodreads more this year, and blogging my reviews of books I finished, motivated me to really stop and consider my impressions of what I was reading right away. The fact that Goodreads allows me to note what day I’m starting and finishing each book I track encourages me to log those details immediately, and further, to rate the book, and from there, to head over to my blog and start writing about why I rated it the way I did. I have a very bad memory for plot. I can remember whether I liked a book or not for years, but I won’t necessarily recall why, and I certainly won’t remember many specific elements of the story for more than a few months. Already a few days after finishing a book I can feel the level of detail I recall about the story fading away. On one hand, this is great because it allows me to reread books after some time has passed and be just as surprised and delighted as the first time through; on the other hand, it’s very difficult to explain to anyone else what I specifically thought of a book and why  I thought so after any time has passed from my reading of it. The Goodreads challenge helped prompt me to note those details early on, while the book was fresh in my mind, and I think that was important and helpful for me to keep up with. Now I have a documented record.

As my first year with the Goodreads challenge comes to a close, it’s time to start thinking about my reading goal for the new year. I have decided to increase my goal from 52 books: that was only a base number to start from, and I had no trouble exceeding it this year. Also, goals are meant to encourage people to try harder and do better than they might otherwise. Of course I want to raise my goal. But I still don’t want my whole life to turn into a battle to read a huge number of books, and I want to leave room to grow a little next year, as well. So I’ve decided to set my goal at 73 books, the same number I read this year. I’m hoping in 2017 I’ll read even more than in 2016, but at the very least, I don’t want to read fewer books. With my schedule and my reading speed, and the fact that I like to feel free to read big books or more challenging ones that go slower, this feels like a realistic goal for me.

What are your plans for the Goodreads 2017 reading challenge? Why do you like or dislike participating with this method of tracking what you read through the year? Do you have other yearly or monthly challenges you like to participate in to motivate reading? I think I’m interested in checking out more challenges this year, so let me know if you’ve heard of some good ones!

Sincerely,

The Literary Elephant

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