When I discovered that there was a community of people on the internet devoted to books and reading, I was so excited! It was such a great way to become so much more immersed in books. However, it didn’t take me very long to notice something about the mindset of the community that bothered me: the constant goal of reading a TON of books.
From Goodreads’ yearly reading goal to readathons on Youtube, I was surrounded by people trying to read a certain number of books, whether that be in a week, a month, or in a year. At first, I was totally swept up by this, wanting to read more, more, more, but as time went on, I realized that there is something very odd about this way of thinking.
There were so many people focusing on how many books they read, rather than if they enjoyed reading them. I saw so many videos where people would just pick short books to read so their number of books read went up with less effort than reading a longer book or they didn’t want to drop a book because it wouldn’t count towards their goal. I know people in my personal life that were disappointed they weren’t going to make their Goodreads reading goal. Reaching a numerical goal seems to be driving so many people to read more.
But why do we read? For me, I love stories and being transported to a different world to escape my reality and I always have. I read because it’s fun and it makes me happy. I think most people read because they enjoy it. But the second you start reading to reach a certain number of books read, is it still fun? Are you still reading because you love reading? I know that for me, when I put pressure on myself to reach a numerical goal like that, it makes reading feel like a chore, not something I love to do.
I’m going to present two scenarios and in both, your reading goal is to read 40 books in a year:
- You read 63 books and surpass your goal! But you only loved a handful of those books, and the rest were bad or forgettable.
- You didn’t make your goal, since you only read 28 books. But for the vast majority of those books, you loved them!
Now, which of these scenarios is more satisfying? For me, it would definitely be the second. At what point is reading a lot better than enjoying what you’re reading?
This isn’t to say that reading goals are completely bad. For example, a Goodreads goal for someone who doesn’t read, but wants to get more into reading can be a good motivator. A readathon can be good when you just have not had time to read, so you are making time to sit down and do something you love. But for someone like me, who reads a lot, is it really necessary to set a goal? That’s up to everyone to decide for themselves, but I have been less motivated to reach a numerical goal and more motivated to make sure read books that I enjoy.
What do you think about reading goals? Is trying to reach a certain goal hurting your enjoyment of reading at all?