Why are readers scaling back on how much they read in 2015?

I am a devoted follower of Book Riot.

Bookriot.com is an online hub for readers to purchase book-related merchandise and talk about reading and writing. The articles posted on the site are composed by people who love adore worship (ah … there’s the right word!) the written word.

So why are so many Book Rioters committing to read less in 2015? Shouldn’t lovers of literature want to read more?

I already heralded blogger Jeremy Anderberg in my last post about my reading and writing resolutions for 2015, but I want to show him some more love by once again quoting his reasoning behind read fewer books this year:

It mostly comes down to me wanting to accomplish more with my free time than just reading. I want to write more, I want to craft more, I want to do more woodworking. […] I even want to just socialize more and spend more time catching up with friends on the phone or over coffee. I don’t want my default activity for free time to be to grab a book and go lay down on the couch in my basement.

I firmly believe that reading should compel us to growth. And at some point, a point which will be different for each person, it no longer does that. It reaches oversaturation. I believe I’ve hit that point. It’s really just a feeling I’ve had recently while reading that “this isn’t contributing to me — to who I am.” If we just read read read forever, what’s the point? Shouldn’t our reading compel us to action in some way?

Today, I also stumbled upon Jessica Pryde’s Book Riot blog post, Why I’m Not Participating in the Goodreads Reading Challenge in 2015.

Before I delve too much into Pryde’s experience with Goodreads challenge, I want to preface this by saying I clicked her link in wholehearted agreement. For 2014, I committed to read 30 books. As of today, my count stands at 25 1/2 books. (I’m halfway through Scott Westerfeld’s AFTERWORLDS, and I don’t predict I’ll finish it before 11:59 p.m. tonight.)

When I began to fall behind in the Goodreads challenge, I started reading for the sake of reaching a quota. Picking up a book became an obligation, not a pleasure. (Although once reading commenced, the pleasure returned.)

Pryde says it a bit more eloquently:

I was reading every chance I got. Not because I wanted to, but because I had to catch up. Have you ever gone onto Goodreads and seen that you were three books behind on your challenge? It’s nerve wracking! I felt like I ALWAYS had to be reading, no matter what else might be going on. The challenge was exacerbated by the guilt that I had so many books in the house, both paper and electronic, and felt that I needed to push through them.

So in 2015, I’m going to give myself a year-long thirtieth birthday present.

I’m going to give myself a break.

I should note that Pryde’s book tally was far higher than mine — in 2013, she read 189 books. Her reading goal for 2014 was 175 books.

That’s about six times as many books as I planned (and failed) to read.  Clearly her life was a bit more consumed by reading than mine was.

But that’s what brings us back to Anderberg’s point about reading compelling us to action. Reading is an important part of life, but it shouldn’t become life. Just as a healthy work-life balance is needed, so is a healthy reading-life balance.

Like Pryde, I am skipping this year’s Goodreads Reading Challenge. Although I still hope to read as many good books as life allows, I want to keep it fun and stress-free all year.

I’m still participating in a reading challenge of sorts for 2015, but I don’t plan to try to tackle all the different types of books on the list below. Instead, I plan to use it as a long-term scavenger hunt.

Goodwill Librarian

 

This challenge may take me one year, five years or a decade. Someday I’ll have all the boxes checked off. But the point is to keep it fun and non-demanding.

Readers are committing to read less to reduce quantity but improve quality. In my reading resolutions, I list more purposeful book selection as a goal:

I want to be more purposeful in what I read. Certainly, there will be books I grab off the shelf for sheer entertainment. But I need to stop reading for quantity (goodbye, Goodreads challenge) and read for quality. Likewise, I want to take time to savor and absorb what I read, not rush through one text so I can tally it off and then grab the next one to read as fast as I can.

Pryde concludes her blog with an excellent point:

There are all kinds of reading challenges people set for themselves, and they’re not always based on numbers. Some decide they’re going only read fiction, or read more books by women or authors of color.

For 2015, let’s make reading challenges more about content and less about numbers.

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