Read or Die Or… Not???

It’s officially 2021. I have set my Goodreads reading challenge goal, printed the BookRiot Read Harder Challenge, and downloaded the PopSugar reading challenge. Again.

Of course, the real question is: Will 2021 be the year I actually COMPLETE any of these challenges???

Okay, that’s a little melodramatic. Even for me. I mostly finish the Goodreads challenge every year. Until the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad year that was 2020 that is. My reading fell off the rails last year. I mean, everything fell off the rails, but reading took an especially hard hit. And it’s not like I didn’t read. I read every day. But some of those days all I could read was two pages. Staying on top of reviews was difficult enough, so trying to find books that matched the prompts? Nope, just wasn’t going to happen.

The craziest part of the Read Harder challenge was I had decided to take a different approach last year. I asked friends to recommend a book for each prompt. I had most of the list covered and even ordered the books! But Jena, you say, that means you didn’t have to match the prompts. You had them all along.

And here is my strange and unusual problem with these challenges. There’s some part of me that loves the idea of these challenges. I like solving puzzles, and checklists, and reading outside the box. These challenges do all the things I like!

So what the fuck is my problem then?

Why am I being so melodramatic today? Probably because even though I don’t consider myself a competitive person, I hate failing. Or feeling like I’m giving up. And a half completed check list is just so… unsatisfying. Which are probably not the best reasons for wanting to finish something. I mean, if there’s one thing I’ve learned a lot about this year, it’s how motivation works neurologically. And just wanting to have a pretty checklist isn’t it.

Don’t get me wrong. I want the checklist 😂 but I guess I’m learning to come to terms with the fact that I don’t want it to make it a priority.

Here’s the thing. I love the challenges because they get me to read differently. But I read for a lot of reasons. To review. To learn. But mostly, I read to escape. I don’t have a lot of interest in reading nonfiction and while I like to dip my toes into poetry, an entire book of them could take well over a year. And I think that’s what ends up holding me back. There’s so many new books that I ache to read. So trying to force myself to read a book just to check a box isn’t something I get excited to do.

Maybe that’s missing the point of these challenges entirely, but I don’t think so. I mean, they do prompt me to push my reading in a lot of ways. I like making sure I read diverse books by diverse authors. And checking in with these challenges keeps those priorities top of mind. It helps me stay aware of who and what I’m reading, even if I don’t do every single challenge. So, in that way, I am growing and expanding and reading harder.

I’ve spent so many years pushing myself with reading. Being part of the Bookstagram community, which I love, isn’t always easy. (More on that later) The community and even these challenges can make me feel like I’m not enough. And that’s not why I read.

This year, I accept I may not finish these challenges. Maybe I hit 100 books. Maybe I don’t. Maybe I check the boxes. Maybe I don’t. And all of that is perfectly okay. I’ll still set the goals. I’ll still print the lists. I’ll still read the books.

Okay, but what’s the point of this post? Probably not a lot 😅🥴🙃 Other than, I also intend to blog more. That train wasn’t just derailed, I’m pretty sure it imploded and went through a black hole. I want to get back into reviewing. And interviewing. And writing down my random, sometimes rambling thoughts. Outside of blog tours that is. I have to start somewhere. Why not here?

Anyhoo. It’s dinner time and I ran out of words. Let me know if you are doing any reading challenges? I set my Goodreads goal for 100 books this year. We’ll see how it goes. And if you’re interested, I’ve included links to the Book Riot Read Harder and PopSugar challenges. Let me know if you decide to do either one!

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