Friday, July 1, 2011

Why Not to Do Book Challenges

So we're halfway through the year and that means that I'm halfway through the three challenges I set for myself all those months ago and about which I was super (dorkily) excited.  This is what I have to say about that - reading challenges are not for me.

If you don't feel like clicking the link, here's a brief summary:
1) I've read four out of the twelve books I obligated myself to for the TBR challenge.
2) I've read two of ten Victorian novels I promised to (and have been working on number three for months).
3) I've read three of eight Classic novels I agreed to.

So here's the thing - I went to college.  I majored in English.  I read what I was told to when I was told to and I ignored what I felt like reading.  I don't want to do that anymore.  I'm not pursuing a higher literature degree, I'm not going into publishing, and I'm not planning to teach.  Somebody at one of my jobs recently started a book club, and that occasional obligatory book is plenty for me.  Other than that, I want to read what I want, when I want.

The Classics Challenge is nice because I'm roped into very little.  It forces me to have variety in my reading, without restricting me to a certain time period or specific list of titles that I arbitrarily chose six months ago (seriously - there's a reason those books have been on my TBR pile for so long!).  For people who like structure, those kinds of challenges are probably good.  For those of us who want to read spontaneously, they are awful.  I find myself wanting to read something but then feeling like I shouldn't because I have so much on my list, then feeling guilty because I'm falling behind on my challenges, and that's just ridiculous.  I already read "literature" without being forced to, and I do it because I want to and I like it.  I don't need some challenges to make me do that.  Likewise, I want to reread Harry Potter without having to feel guilty about it.

Of course, I don't want to give up on anything either, so I think I'll just scale back on the Victorian challenge (to the Sense and Sensibility level, meaning four books) and hope for the best on the TBR challenge.  And in the future?  I will stick to those challenge that encourage variety without limiting choices.  Because first and foremost, I read because I like to and I don't want to lose that.

How about you?  Are your challenges going well or are you similarly frustrated?  Or maybe you don't do them at all because of these reasons?


  1. I'm with you 100% on challenges. I like the spontaneity of choosing a book I feel like right then, instead of going through a list determined months ago. If I do another challenge, like the China Rican one I just did, I wouldn't make it for a single month, that way if I wanted to break up the challenge with something else I could. Good luck finishing up your challenges

  2. This is why I'm not in any challenges and I try not to accept too many ARCs, because I hate having a deadline and restricted choice.

    The classics challenge did tempt me though!

  3. I think I would be more interested in challenges if I weren't in college now (my Victorian Literature class books, one of which is Silas Marner, have just arrived for fall), because I do end up enjoying a lot of books I never would have picked up. That being said, it's a lot of fun to look through everything I have and just pick whatever I want at that exact moment.