You’re One Book Behind Schedule
If I’m somewhere where there are many books, or even only one book — I’m in my happy place. I’ve always been a reader, and when I was younger, it was almost as if I ate books — I went through them so quickly.
I have a constant supply of books.
I enjoy buying, borrowing, and having easy access to books. I love talking about them, and when I read something that touches me, I feel changed in a small way.
I have author-friends whose books I must read, and I’m lucky enough to win books where often I’m supposed to reciprocate by reviewing them.
I’m in several book groups. I lack the discipline to wait, so I must get it immediately when I hear someone raving about a book. I put it on my almost-to-the ceiling-stack of must-read books, where it waits until I get around to it.
I love using the library, but any books I reserve are now delivered curbside — no in-the-library-browsing allowed since the pandemic. The upside is there are no more overdue fees, and the due dates have been extended to three months away.
How to prioritize which books to read
Do I go with my gut and read the ones I’m most interested in first, the ones I have to review, or the ones I need to return?
But as I’ve gotten older, my speed has slowed down, and I sometimes need to read things over again because my reading comprehension has diminished. I still read quite a bit, but it’s not the same.
I may be spending more time than I used to with a book, deciding which books to read more challenging.
I don’t have as much leniency towards books I don’t connect with, even though it’s hard for me to give up on a book. I have issues finishing things, and reading a book all the way to the end was the one thing I could always finish.
Reading challenges are purely for entertainment.
As a member of Goodreads, I often sign up for their annual reading challenges. I’ll never read as fast as when I was younger, but I’m still a reader, and I want to make sure I make time to read.
Challenging myself to read so many books in a year helps guarantee that I will commit to reading. I take these reading challenges as a personal quest I must finish even though there isn’t a single consequence if I don’t.
A reading challenge isn’t a competition — it’s a way to encourage people to make reading a priority when there are many other things they could do.
However, for me, reading challenges end up causing a great deal of stress. Every year, I the number of books I’m to complete. No one is stopping me from making the number of completed books smaller if I wanted.
The goal isn’t to impress people with your reading choices.
Our moods influence our reading tastes. Sometimes you want some classic literature that will make you think, and other times, you want a thriller that’ll keep you guessing.
Read what you want, not what you think will make you look sophisticated.
The books-read tracker isn’t there to shame the reader but to cheer them on.
In December, I was behind four books for the challenge and beginning to panic. I felt overwhelmed I’d never read fast enough to reach my goal. I started to sweat, and my heart was beating at an increasing speed.
How would I ever catch up?
I was plodding through a book where I didn’t care about any of the characters, found the plot uninteresting, and was already regretting the time I spent on it. My dilemma was clear — quit a book the way I quit my 8th crafts project or lose the challenge?
You’re not required to finish every book you intend to read.
I made my choice and returned the book to the library. I didn’t want to count it in the challenge since I hadn’t finished it, but that left me four books to read in one day. The pressure was on.
Mindy Kaling saved me.
For her third collection of essays, Nothing Like I Imagined, instead of publishing them in one book, the material was divided into six super short books, Kind of Hindu, Please like Me, Help is On the Way, Searching for Coach Taylor, Once Upon a Time in Silver Lake and Big Shot.
Since most of these books only had one or two essays, I read them all at once and completed my reading challenge with an extra two books. It did feel a little bit like cheating, but who was I cheating anyway? I hit my book reading goal for the year!
What’s the lesson in this tale?
Reading challenges are great if you don’t let them make you feel bad if you fall behind. Putting pressure on myself took away some of the pleasure of reading. I signed up for the Reading Challenge again this year. I plan on not panicking if my numbers fail to impress. I’ll remind myself the pleasure isn’t winning the challenge; it’s all the wonderful stories I read along the way.