November 13, 2014 • Cee • Discussion


Recognize this?

Or this?

Why do people participate in reading challenges? Well, off the top of my head, I think of these reasons:

  • to motivate them to read
  • to get TBR list down to a manageable number.
  • to read books they wouldn’t usually read (I’m talking about specific reading challenges like debut author or series).
  • to beat others’ book count (which I don’t see a lot of people doing, so that’s good!).
  • to have fun!

I see people participating in monthly reading challenges, tackling their TBR lists or ARCs or debut authors, and I want to participate, but I’m a mood reader. I read whatever fits my mood and desire.

I only participate in one—the Goodreads one that lets me set a certain amount of books I will read a year—because it’s my way of motivating myself to read as well as keeping track of how many books I’ve read. I have a love-hate relationship with this challenge. It’s awesome when I have my book count up, but when it’s not…well, it’s essentially the bane of my reading existence. I’m pretty sure it’ll dislike me if it was a person as much as I loathe its guts (if it had any).

Can we just talk about how annoying seeing that you’re “11 books behind schedule”?

It’s almost like an alarm clock that continues to ring over and over again even though I turned it off, never letting me forgot that I’m late. I GET IT. I’M BEHIND. PLEASE STOP SHOUTING AT ME. YOU’RE PUTTING TOO MUCH PRESSURE ON ME.

It never fails to get my heartbeat up and my brain hurting. I feel the pressure! Can I even reach 100 books before the end of the year? I DON’T KNOW. I start to second guess myself. My brain likes to imagine that I actually don’t have enough time to get back on this schedule Goodreads has me on, and proceeds to weep out of its pores. I panic. And I hate it.It’s not a great motivator, telling me that I’m x books behind. It’s unneeded pressure and stress, so I avoid it.

I dread going to the front page of Goodreads because I’ll be reminded how many books I’m behind. I AM AVOIDING YOU FOR A REASON, WEBSITE. STOP PLEASE, IF YOU KNOW WHAT’S GOOD FOR YOU.

I know you’re asking, “but Cee, if you hate it so much, why do you continue to participate? Why not change the amount of books you read?” My answer? I feel obligated, and I’m fucking stubborn. I’ve done this challenge for the past two or so years; it’s almost like tradition, or a New Year’s resolution—a promise I make to myself. I’ve always read over 100 books, hence the reason why my minimum is that amount. It was always easy for me, but this year, it wasn’t. (I’ve had a lottttttt of reading slumps.) I’m just too stubborn to change the book amount. I follow through, no matter how pressured or in pain I feel.

But is it worth it if I feel pressured by it? Not at all, but I think it really depends. Everybody has different ways of dealing with pressure. For some people, pressure is a motivator that helps them reach their challenges/goals faster, but for others, not so much. They might find that the pressure has harmful effects to their physical body or mental health like headaches and such. And when people feel the latter, it’s really not worth it.

If a person wants to continue participating in a challenge even though it causes them ill health, I think it’s important that they adjust their attitude or mindset towards their reading challenges, so there’s less pressure on them. Here are two ways:

  • Lower the number of books you read for a challenge and decide to be happy that you’re reading.

Set the bar to something incredibly low—one that you know you will zoom past like 25 books (or perhaps lower). And remember, the important thing is that you’re reading! Who cares about how many books you’ve read? You’re reading! And that’s awesome!

  • Be positive!

For me, if I’m behind schedule with my reading challenge, I usually think, “OH GOD NO. 25 BOOKS? I AM NEVER GOING TO REACH MY GOAL. TOO LITTLE TIME”, and imagine throwing myself on my bed, but I learned to be positive about it. Instead, I think, “Only 25 books before the end of the year? I’ve got this. I just need to read a book a day, and I’m golden.” Just saying, “I got this” continuously makes me believe that I can achieve my challenge.

I don’t think I’ll be giving up on participating in this challenge (even though I want to). I just need to reach my challenge, or I will be mad at myself. I know I can do this. I’m going to stomp all over this challenge, and it’s going to feel so good.

Reading challenges can be a hit or miss with some people. Do you participate in reading challenges? Why do you participate? Do you actually find it helpful? Do you stress about it at all? How do you deal with it?


13 Responses to “THE THREE C’S: CANDID CONVERSATIONS WITH CEE | Are Reading Challenges Really Good For Our Health?”

  1. Lola says:

    I always participate in the Goodreads challenge as wel, it’s fun to easy see how many books you read. I set a too high goal for this year and at a certain point I got so annoyed from the reminders I was behind that I lowered my goal. Coincidently I just reached my goal yesterday.
    I don’t think it really motivates me, maybe a bit because I don’t like being behind. Bust mostly it’s like you said a tradition, every first of January I set my reading goal for that year and it feels weird not doing the goodreads challenge.
    I also have participated in a few other challenged like Coyer, but there wasn’t really a goal for that, more laidback. Or I set a goal I know I will reach, so there’s less stress and pressure.

  2. Claire says:

    I’ve been stressing about my GR reading challenge as well so I find this post SO applicable in so many ways. I’ve had a tough time this year reading enough, mostly because there isn’t anywhere comfy to read and TV is so darn distracting and good. So I’m 1 book ahead now but at one point I was 6 books behind. I’ve also decided for next year I’m only going to do challenges I know i can do instead of pressuring myself otherwise.

  3. Kelsey says:

    Ugh, I get this so much. My schedule is incredibly unpredictable and this makes any reading challenge I decide to take part of. . .really stressful. Currently I’m only in the Goodreads one, but I’m probably two trillion books behind schedule because I’ve had almost no time to read for the majority of the year. It’s not really healthy unless you know for sure that you have the time and don’t care if you fail. I really agree with this post!

  4. Katie says:

    I overwhelm myself with projects and challenges. I have gotten better at this, but it’s really something I have always done. And I feel awful if I ‘fail’ or give up.

    To be honest, I may be better of without the Goodreads challenge too – less stress! – but I also love it and know I will continue to take part. I think this is a great post though, and it’s important to remember that it’s not SUCH a big deal – especially if it’s going so far as to cause health concerns!

  5. alicia says:


    if it helps, i’m currently 47 books behind my goodreads reading challenge hahahaha. i feel that terrible guilt/pressure everytime i visit goodreads too, but i’ve been behind schedule all alond so it’s like IMMUNITY. i do love to participate in challenges, like the yearly debut author challenge, standalone challenge, TBR pile challenge etc. because it’s just fun. i’ll be reading anyway, why not add a challenge and feel great when it’s completed? (plot twist: i’ve NEVER finished a reading challenge before). i guess i’m more lenient on myself when it comes to challenges, when i get it done, great! if not… *shrugs* i can keep trying till i get it!


  6. Alysia says:

    This is actually the first year that I’ve did the reading challenge on goodreads. I managed to complete that challenge, because number of books usually isn’t a problem for me unless I was setting myself at a number I wouldn’t be sure I could meet, or if I did happen to get into a slump. However, I did sign up for a blogging reading challenge for contemporary YA and I am super behind on that one, especially because I took a blogging break, so I’m a bit anxious on whether I would complete it before the new year. If not, it definitely would be a bit disappointing to leave it incomplete. I guess we just have to try hard at being positive!! Pressure can really affect you. Hope you succeed!

  7. Sydney says:

    I always participate in the Goodreads challenge but I never thought NOT to. At the beginning of the year I set my reading goal to 100 but in March I hit a MASSIVE reading slump and at one point it was telling me I was 32 books behind schedule. I ended up dropping it down to 40 books. It’s honestly really annoying looking at it and seeing “you’re x books behind schedule!” Don’t tell me I’m failing, Goodreads. I don’t need that! *shakes fist*

  8. Samantha says:

    I really like the Goodreads Challenge for the purpose of keeping track of what I’ve read over the year. I originally set the mark at 50 books this year because one book a week (give or take) is pretty bloody good and I had an amazing reading year last year and wasn’t sure if I’d be able to keep it up. Turns out I have had just as great a reading year this year, but I know 100 books would be pushing myself and, like you, I’m not that kind of reader. I don’t want to compete, even with myself.

  9. Great post!
    This is the first year I’ve struggled with the reading challenge. The Goodreads one is the only one I participate in, and I’ve been setting myself a goal of 100 books for 2-3 years. I started going back to school again this year, so my reading has been a bit slower than usual.
    I lowered my goal to 90, which is not a great number because it’s not as pretty and impressive-looking as 100, but now I’m ‘only’ 6 books behind so it’s a bit more motivating and I’ve been reading again. :)
    I like reading challenges because they make me think twice about how I choose to spend my time. When I’m trying to decide between watching a movie, sitting mindlessly in front of the TV, or reading a book I’m really excited about, the reading challenge pressure usually puts me on the right path.
    A few years ago, when I’d just started blogging, I participated in more challenges than I can count, and I was not having a good time. I feel like one challenge should be manageable, although I’m currently dying under the stress a little bit.

  10. Savannah says:

    I have to admit that looking at my goodreads challenge and seeing myself behind does make it stressful. It is supposed to motivate me but at times it makes me worry that I won’t reach my goal on time.

  11. Reading challenges motivate me and they push me to cross my boundaries. I’ve been reading more books this year than I ever did; I never thought it would be possible to read this much! I never feel stressed when I see the ‘X behind.’ I had it two years ago and I just lowered my goal. It’s not like anybody is going to think ‘look at her, lowering her goal’; making it feel like you fail is all you.

  12. The only reading challenge I participate in is the Goodreads one, though I am considering doing more in 2015. The first year I did the Goodreads challenge, I aimed for 100 books and only made it about halfway there. Since then, my goal has been to read more than I did the year before. For example, if I read 52 books this year, my 2015 goal will be 53. 2014 has been my first year to finish my Goodreads challenge. I’m excited. :)

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