Reading Competitively?

reading competitively

Claire Fallon wrote this article The Problem With Reading Competitively on HuffPost and… well, let me talk about the title first. It makes it sound like readers are elbowing each other in the library. So many broken noses. I don’t think the title reflects the contents of the post. It starts out as a poke at the Goodreads Challenge but turns into the writer’s resolution to read “slow.”

As usual, I signed up for the Goodreads Challenge again this year. I hope to read 60 books in 2015. Last year I read 55, so 60 seems doable. So far I have read 0. One year I read 100 and it was a slow trot to the finish line.

I don’t see the Goodreads Challenge or any other challenge as a competition, unless the competitor was a past me. I have a book blog, obviously I read books, a lot of books. I’m not waving that around in people’s faces. It’s just a thing that I do. I’m not looking at Andi’s list and saying, “I bet I could out-read her this year.”

I have cut back significantly in challenges involving numbers. I just became overwhelmed with the idea of reading a lot of books within a set of parameters. I’ve even cut back on the number of books I wish to read over a year. I know that 100 isn’t going to happen right now. At the very least seeing that little chart reminds me that I have to read to have material for my occasional blogging.

As I said, the challenge isn’t about my reading vs someone else’s. If it was a sport, it would be a marathon. Yes, a marathon has winners, but most of the runners participating aren’t there to beat someone else. They want to see how far they can push themselves. They want to do better than the last race, but even when they don’t finish how they wanted, they’re still proud of what they’ve achieved. There is a goal, but the goal isn’t everything. What leads up to that moment is important too.

What I’m saying is if you want to read 100 books, the entire works of Dickens, Moby Dick, or every Goosebump novel this year, do it. You do you. If you succeed, that’s great. If you don’t reach that goal, I hope you get something out of it anyway.

11 comments:

  1. I saw this, too, and a couple responses to it and all I keep thinking is, "It's not a competition with others, but with OURSELVES." We are challenging ourselves, not others to do the same. I don't quite get it.

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  2. Yeah I just use the goodreads challenge as a way to track my own reading and kind of challenge myself...though I don't really take it too seriously since I always seem to fall short. I think readers can be competitive but it's not something I take very seriously nor do I have time to care, lol. I just don't!

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  3. I agree that it's more of a competition with ourselves. That being said, this is the first year Ive ever participated in the GR Challenge (or set a goal number of books)..and I'm already stressing out that I'm not going to get to all my Jan books (that I set out for myself). I guess the key here is that all these "things I'm not getting to" are things I set out for myself, not in competition with someone else. But, I do wish I stop stressing and just read!

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  4. Ha - reading competitively! I resolved a year or 2 ago to slow down my reading because I wasn't remembering much afer reading a book, and I missed savoring a book and not rushing through it. S - I guess what I'm saying is ... I win! Lol - seriously - the author of that HuffPo aricle is taking things a little too seriously.

    Tanya Patrice
    Girlxoxo.com

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  5. I couldn't agree more. Challenges are meant to be motivating and fun for the individual reader.

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  6. I think there is something inherently wrong with the word challenge. I know most book bloggers are not type A personalities, but I have a competitive streak. I am my own worst competition too. Give me numbers I have to hit, goals I have to fulfill, or any other number of things that require signing up and keeping track, and suddenly I go all Hulk. I don't find them motivating or rewarding but incredibly stressful and nerve-wracking. I do best when I read what I want, even if it is just review copies because I want to read them, and don't pay attention to any numbers. So, while I agree that everyone should stop stressing about reading, I can see her point that such widgets and challenges can become competitive events, even if it is against ourselves.

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    1. I think Ive done pretty well with my challenges last year, but I'm actually NOT a competitive person usually. I can see your point that it can become too competitive against ourselves though

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  7. I particularly like the part where she implies that people run off to update their Goodreads profile (or whatever) because they want to show OTHER people that they've read another book. I think she's missed the fact that for a lot of readers, being able to obsessively update, browse through and roll about in our own stats, ratings, lists, spreadsheets, collections and all manner of other book-related shizzle is basically Nerd-vana. This information may be of passing interest to a fellow reader - but we aaaall know who it's REALLY there for.

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    1. Oh me too, I'm obsessed with my stats and bookshelves sometimes - something to do while im watching TV on the other screen and planning next books to read, etc. Find it fun

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  8. I agree with you! I don't try to read more than anyone else. It's not a competition. I just like to challenge myself to read more. I don't participate in many other challenges throughout the year. I like to have the flexibility. In the end, I do it all for me!

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  9. Great article - I think they had valid points but their points don't fit me. I agree more with what you said. I do the yearly challenge on Goodreads they're talking about and also a ridiculous amount of challenges on my site...but not because i'm competing with ANYONE. I'm having fun tracking my stats and found it helps me read more in genres I'm trying to and keep more mindful of it. Also it really has helped me read more, which has helped me set more productive habits. So like many here, I'm definitely challenging myself, not anyone else.

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