dolorosa_12: (matilda)
[personal profile] dolorosa_12
This year, I set myself a reading challenge on Goodreads. It was the same as last year's: fifty books, which to me seemed a modest goal. Last year I was reading right up until 31st December (if I say I'm going to do something, I do it, even if it's massively inconvenient), and looking back, I read quite a few things out of a sense of duty, rather than a genuine desire to read them. I was anxious about the breadth of my reading, and basically didn't let myself give up on any books.

This year, it's mid-August and I've already finished the fifty books in the challenge. And the whole process has been a joy.

The difference is that I gave myself permission to just read what I wanted and not worry about the composition of my reading list. And while I've still read a couple of duds, as well as a bunch of books that were merely solid, rather than life-changing, I've enjoyed reading and been enthusiastic about it in a way that I hadn't been for ages. Sure, I did read some stuff I really enjoyed last year (Silver on the Road, Sorcerer to the Crown, and Black Wolves spring immediately to mind), but I often felt reluctant or unenthusiastic about the books I'd chosen, and frequently went for entire weeks without reading a single book.

The year is barely halfway over, and I've finished my reading challenge, but looking forward to the next five months — and the books they'll contain — with great anticipation. It strikes me as incredibly messed up that I was feeling actual anxiety about reading — an activity which had up until that point been one of my favourites — and I'm glad I've been able to restore the sense of joy and happiness which had been missing. After all, what is the point of reading for pleasure if you get no pleasure out of it?

(Speaking of Goodreads, I'm Dolorosa over there if you want to add me. I only use it to log the books I've read, but it's always nice to see what others are reading, so do feel free to add me if you want. If your username is really different to your Dreamwidth/LJ one, could you let me know who you are, though, so that I don't get confused.)

Date: 2016-08-16 01:49 pm (UTC)
umadoshi: umadoshi kanji (Default)
From: [personal profile] umadoshi
I just sent you a friend request, and I'm ysabet over there. ^_^

Date: 2016-08-14 01:22 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] malinowy.livejournal.com
I'm doing two reading challenges this year, and am pretty sure I'm not going to repeat it next year. Yes, I'm picking up books I otherwise wouldn't and some I've enjoyed a lot, but I also kind of feel like the empty boxes I haven't ticked off yet are judging me because how can it be August and I haven't read a non-fiction book about science yet? I feel like without any challenges I read a lot more diversely than I do now. So I definitely understand where you're coming from. We should all read whatever we feel like reading, instead of forcing ourselves to finish something that's not even close to what we'd normally read.

Added you on Goodreads, my username ought to be close enough to give away who's adding you. :)

Date: 2016-08-14 02:52 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] dolorosa-12.livejournal.com
Yeah, once reading starts feeling like a stressful chore, it's time to reevaluate your reading choices, and maybe do things differently. The challenge I did (both this year and last year) was only to read a certain number of books — they could be any books I wanted — but I was putting so much artificial pressure on myself to read as widely as possible, to read as many works by marginalised authors as possible that I started to get anxious, and my reading slowed to a crawl. This year, I didn't place any constraints on myself in terms of content, and I've been much happier while reading.

I've added you back on Goodreads.

Date: 2016-08-14 02:45 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ellinou.livejournal.com
Congrats for finishing your challenge already!

I often feel that way about writing. I feel guilty when I don't reach goals I set myself or if I don't finish a story when I said I would. I have to remind myself that I'm the one putting pressure on myself and that it's okay if I take more time to finish a project, or even if I never do finish it.

Date: 2016-08-14 02:53 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] dolorosa-12.livejournal.com
Thank you! I'll clearly have to set a higher goal next year.

Setting goals is only fun if the goals are achievable, particularly if they're related to hobbies, rather than paid or volunteer work and no one else is depending on you achieving those goals.

Date: 2016-08-14 08:47 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] promiseoftin.livejournal.com
This post is so inspiring! I'm glad you have relearned to read for fun again. :)

Date: 2016-08-15 12:37 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] dolorosa-12.livejournal.com
Thank you!

Date: 2016-08-14 10:27 pm (UTC)
pax_athena: (cheeky)
From: [personal profile] pax_athena
It's a hard balance for me to strike between going broader in my reading and not falling prey to that feeling of anxiety about my reading lists (last year was rather a slog for me, too, as I kept mentioning and whining about to people). For me, in the end, it's about being very aware of my mood in a given moment, sometimes it's all about the comfort, sometimes I need to make myself go out and push my boundaries, whether with new authors or with old ones whom I know to be challenging in some way. And to accept that I can't like an author just because I think I should; in the end it's also just about whether it is a good book and a book I enjoy (for a very broad meaning of the word "enjoy").

Also: added. I use (almost) the same nick over there.

Date: 2016-08-15 12:40 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] dolorosa-12.livejournal.com
Oh yes, I can relate to a lot of what you've said. In the end, I decided to just relax, and read whatever I wanted to read - after all, was anyone else in the world going to take much notice of my reading list? (I recognise the irony of saying this just after I've asked everyone to add me on Goodreads!)

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rushes into my heart and my skull

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