Monday, April 27, 2015

Musing Mondays - Why I Decided To Quit My Challenges

Musing Mondays is a weekly meme hosted by Jenn at A Daily Rhythm. Anyone can play along! This is when we speak about bookish rants or issues, among other things.

For this week's topic, I am talking about why I decided to quit all of my challenges. Yep, you heard me right: I decided to quit them. All of them. This year, I had signed up for several challenges: the Banned Book Challenge, the TBR Pile Challenge, the New To You Challenge, the Book Riot Read Harder Challenge and of course the Goodreads Challenge.

Last year, I told myself that I would not sign up for too many challenges. Yeah, that didn't work out very well. I was trying to branch out and read new things and I love challenges. They give me something to work towards and I love winning . . . even if I am just winning against myself. Not including the Goodreads challenge, I had a total of 71 books to read for my challenges. It did help that I was able to use some of the same books for multiple challenges. Nevertheless, the number was overwhelming.

So how did this affect my reading habits? I found myself reading stuff that I wasn’t really in the mood to read. Granted, some of the books have been on my TBR list for a while, but that doesn’t mean I was in the mood to read them right now. In addition to the books for my challenges, I had requested way too many ARCs that needed to be read as well. I have been calculating every month how many books need to be challenge reads so that I can stay on top of everything and not be behind on anything. Because of that, I have found myself not enjoying reading. I have read stuff I wasn't excited about and this did not help my enjoyment of the book. 

It isn’t actually enough that I just be behind . . . I have to be ahead too. Take my Goodreads challenge for example. I had signed up to read 170 books for this year. That is roughly the same amount of books I read last year. At this point in the year, I have read 75 books and I am way ahead of my goal by 22 books. Yet, I continue to put all this pressure on myself to get farther and farther ahead. Why? Because I have travel coming up and I want to make sure I don’t fall behind my goal. And then I also think to myself “Hmmm, maybe I could actually beat my goal and read 200 books this year.” Yeah, it’s a sickness.

No one is pressuring me but me. I realized this week how I was just not reading books I actually wanted to read. I was feeling the need to complete all these challenges and I also felt the need to read every ARC I have by the publication date. Well there was one book I was reading that was published on April 14, 2015. A few pages in, I realized I was not in the mood to read this book. I wasn’t marking it DNF or anything. I think I had only read five pages so I really couldn’t blame the story. I just wanted to read something else. So I put it aside and read something else. The publication date for that book came and went, it still hasn’t been read and I am not sure when I will read it. And guess what? The world didn’t end. NetGalley didn’t come and hunt me down asking why I haven't read the book yet.


That is when I realized that all of these challenges were just too much. Maybe that is why I have been in a couple of reading slumps lately: the books that I am “supposed” to read just aren’t cutting it. A couple of weeks ago, I actually read a book (A Different Blue by Amy Harmon) that was neither an ARC or was it a challenge read. That book was the one that ended up pulling me out of my slump. That was the first book in a couple of weeks that I actually liked. Even though it is totally not like me, this is when I decided to quit my challenges. I know it sounds silly, but that decision took so much pressure off myself. I do not want to read just for the sake of reading. I want to read what I want. And if I want to take a break from reading, either because of travel or because I just need a break, I want to do that without feeling like I am missing out on some stupid goal.

Are you working on any challenges this year? Do you feel pressure to read a certain number of books?

37 comments :

  1. I am doing 2 challenges - The good reads (100 books) and there was a Popsugar challenge (different categories). I like them and they are fun but sometimes I do feel the pressure (from myself) so I can't imagine doing as many as you were.

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    1. Grace, yeah I think my problem was overextending myself. It was just too much.

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  2. I tried to set reading goals that are realistic for me. But I do feel pressured when I see the GoodReads "you are 6 books behind schedule."

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    1. I know, Kwizgiver . . . that "helpful" reminder from Goodreads is just annoying. Ha

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  3. I don't do any challenges except the Goodreads so know pressure there. Taking too many ARC's. Yes, that is the one I have to really look out for.

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    1. Oh yes, JC. I am struggling with that as well. I have gotten a little bit better with it though.

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  4. Honestly, I signed up for two challenges this year. One I'm doing splendidly well (Goodreads reading challenge), and the other, I've barely started on it. I don't blame you for quitting. Sigh.

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    1. Joy, yeah it sucks to have to read something for a challenge and not so much because I am in the mood for it. It takes the fun out of everything.

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  5. I gave up all of my challenges except the Goodreads one...and in that one, I reduced my goal number over the goal of previous years...and I feel great!

    Of course, I still have review books that add pressure...but I am not requesting as many. Enjoy!

    Here is my MUSINGS POST

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    1. Thanks Laurel! Good for you for not putting too much pressure on yourself!

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  6. I hear you! So true! I downsized my blog from a WP one this year, gave up my bunch of challenges and decided to just read what I was in the mood for. Of course I slipped a bit by starting to request Netgalley books again, but I am very particular about what I request now. Last year I had way too many and then found I didn't want to read them. However money is a bit tighter this year, so I need those review books now.

    Thanks for sharing-- I do understand how we bloggers put pressure on ourselves!

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    1. Thanks Rita! I am glad someone else understands. I used to request like crazy for NetGalley and then I was overwhelmed with the ARCs. Like you, I have been a bit choosier about that.

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  7. I'm not big on challenges partly because like you I tend to be very competitive even against myself. I do the Goodreads Challenge but I reduced my total from last year so I don't get too stressed.

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    1. Thanks Cleo, I am exactly like you so I can't believe I signed up for so many challenges. Oy

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  8. I only do the GR challenge, but more so as to keep track of what I'm reading. I love to peruse blogger reviews and stay abreast of new releases, but I pick up only books that suit me. Last year I barely did 50 (woe is me!), but this year I'm doing more because I discovered audiobooks and I'm always listening while doing house chores. My goal is 100, but if I don't meet it I'm sure the sky won't fall, lol. Challenges are pressure-inducing, I agree, but since I've got enough of that in my life, I try to steer clear of it. Great topic.

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    1. Thanks so much for the input Ramona! I am still going to use Goodreads to keep track of what I am reading. But I have become much more of a mood reader. And there are so many new releases that I want to read!

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  9. The only challenge I am participating in this year is the Goodreads challenge. I'm the same way though. I'm way far ahead of schedule but I'm constantly trying to get more and more ahead because I want to beat my goal and I'm afraid I'll end up getting in a slump later in the year. And I'm also running into the too many ARC problem. I keep requesting ARCs or accepting books from authors, which is nice and all. I want to read these books. But I do feel like I'm reading these books way more often than the books I really want to read. For instance, I want to reread the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon but I keep putting it off because it's a reread and they're really long, so I feel like I need to read my ARCs first.

    I totally agree that, if you feel like you're forcing yourself to do something that's not that entertaining, you need to rethink it. I've been keeping myself from signing up for any other challenges for this reason. I'm glad there are people who feel the same stupid, self-placed pressure!

    Vicarious Caytastrophe

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    1. Thanks so much Cayt And YES to everything you said. I keep trying to get more and more ahead of my GR challenge and it is so CRAZY! Ha. I am glad someone else can relate.

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  10. It's a juggling act between finding challenges that are fun but then not over committing as that is just pressure. I didn't join any yearly ones this year, not even the GR one and for similiar reasons to you. I don't want to aim to be reading more and more, year after year, but would rather focus on enjoying the time I am reading. So now I join in for occasional short challenges (for example the May Clean Sweep ARC one) but because it's only for the month, it works for me.

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    1. Thanks for the input Trish! Next year, I really need to rethink all these challenges and only join ones I am really interested in.

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  11. I only do the Goodreads challenge, and it's mainly just so I can keep track of what I read. I have always LOVED to read, and I just don't want to do anything that makes reading feel like work--and for me, too many deadlines (self imposed or not!) could very easily make reading start to feel like a chore instead of something that I look forward to doing. So--good for you for doing what is right for you!

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    1. Thank you so much! I really need to stop doing the GR challenge, I think. I like it for keeping track of what I read but the challenge has just become too much pressure.

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  12. I'm doing like four challenges I think, but my problem is I don't care enough. I'm generally a lot like you, I want to be ahead of everything, but now here we are four months in and I find I don't really care anymore. I'm considering quitting mine just because it's a pain to keep up with them.

    I'm glad you're doing this though, hopefully it will make you feel better about reading! Also, don't worry I'm the worst Netgaley user and nothing's happened to me! ;)

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    1. Thanks so much Shay! Yes, quitting my challenges has felt like a huge relief. I just read what I want to . . . of course I am still trying to read NetGalley ARCs in time. Ha

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  13. I fight with myself ALL the time over my challenges! And I only do a few! Mostly, the Goodreads one is the one that gets to me. Like you, I have to be beating it, and the further ahead, the better. The blog challenges for me are just more for fun and interaction, but the Goodreads one? I think I would like, hole up in my room and eat a gallon or seven of ice cream if I didn't make it. And why!? Goodreads isn't going to like, hunt me down! We are WAY too hard on ourselves, so good for you for not pushing yourself for absolutely no reason!

    Shannon @ It Starts At Midnight

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    1. Bahahaha Shannon, you made me laugh out loud at the thought of Goodreads hunting me down. But YES, that is exactly how I feel sometimes. I am 1000% sure that I am the only one who cares if I beat my GR goal or if I exceed it by a million books. So crazy.

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  14. I know all of these feelings!! I'm currently only doing the TBR challenge and I've read maybe 2 of my books? I don't know how a 12 books challenge over the course of a year is stressful, but it DEFINITELY is. And it makes me not want to read the books because it feels like I'm being forced. How did evolution lead my brain into this situation?? I don't know if I'll quit, but I'm proud of you for doing so! It's very tempting.

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    1. Thank you so much Julianne! Yeah with the TBR challenge, I thought for sure that one book a month would be fine and no pressure. Ha. Like you said, it really makes me not to read them at all.

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  15. Aw that's sad it got you feeling that way. I know others who really stress over it too. I end up doing 4-5 challenges a year but they never really influence my reading. I just read what I want when I want and usually it comes out in the end that I'm way ahead in all of them. If I don't finish one. Meh. It's okay too. I just like keeping track. Maybe picking up a book I hadn't considered or a series I love but gets lost along the review books.

    I hope you enjoy your reading more the rest of the year now that the pressure is off!

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    1. Thank you so much Anna! Yeah, I know some people can do the challenges without feeling the pressure to complete all of them. I wish I could be one of those people. :)

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  16. Taking a step back away from challenges and just reading what you want when you want is a great call. I'm only doing a few but I'm picking really realistic goals and am not stressing if I don't make them this year.

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    1. Thank you so much Julie! I wish I could not stress about completing them either. But now I can read what I want without any pressure.

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  17. Yeah, I'm not doing challenges at all. I'm a mood reader, and it definitely takes the fun out of it for me. Glad you're feeling less pressured now!

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  18. Yes - challenges are supposed to be fun!! If they're not, then why bother? I think you made the right decision!

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

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    1. Thank you so much Nicole! You are so right: they are supposed to be fun. I realized I had to quit them when they weren't being fun for me.

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