So I’m not going to reach my reading challenge for the year. And that’s okay! I tried for 150 this year and even though I’m far from it, I’m setting 2020’s book challenge for 200 books. I’ve seen a lot of people wondering about book challenges, so I thought I’d cover the benefits of a big book challenge and why I do them!
To start, there are downsides to a blank slate book challenge. It takes me months to read Outlander and just a few hours to read a short novella. The way I see it, you have final say in whether the book counts as a full book or not, but to speak to some of the naysayers’ points, it is a little frustrating that a massive book counts for the same as a tiny one.
There are other, more specific challenges to check out too! Pop Sugar does one every year, as do others, and they’re great! They require the reader to expand their book and author circle and to look to new horizons. Right now, I’ve got a To Be Read list a mile and a half long, so they’re not for me, but if you’re worried about the big book vs. small book question, or if you’re not as interested in the final number, then check out some of the specific book challenges!
The thing is, doing a 200 book challenge is a bit crazy. I work for myself and, as most freelancers know, that means I should be working all the time. I don’t have a morning commute or a lunch break to chip away at my list and adding this huge goal to the responsibilities on my plate is a lot.
But that’s the reason I do it. Reading is a commitment, and because I work on my own stories and my own company all the time, it’s often the first luxury to go. The thing is, as an author, reading shouldn’t be a luxury. It’s a fundamental element of writing and an important resource for making my own stories as good as they can be. Reading often falls by the wayside despite this intrinsic value, however.
So I set my reading lists high. This takes reading out of the maybe later category and puts it firmly into the do it now category. While this has the potential to take some of the joy and relaxation out of reading, I find it doesn’t, at least not for me. Instead, it forces me to prioritize reading and make it one of my writing tasks, instead of some hobby relegated to the back burner.
This isn’t true for everyone. For some people, this reading challenge is a nightmare. There are certainly downsides to a blank slate reading challenge, and I recognize that some of the dissenting voices have good points. But it works for me. It helps me to rearrange my life, with reading at the forefront, instead of behind television or surfing Pinterest. It helps me to stay in lane and remember why I do all of this.
Will I reach 200 next year? Who’s to say? I didn’t reach my goals this year, but even though I didn’t quite manage 150 books, I still spent 2019 with my nose buried in a book and my mind full of stories, with reading playing an important role in my life. And that’s why I do the reading challenge. ♥