I’ve always been a big fan of the site Goodreads.
Basically, Goodreads is a way to track the books you’ve read, find the reviews of your friends, and get book recommendations.
A lot of it is being part of a community of other readers which is cool. I often check out the books my friends review or mark ‘want to read.’
The biggest thing I use Goodreads for is tracking what I read.
The last few years I’ve set up a yearly reading goal at or around about 45-50 books, which ends up being a bit shy of a book a week.
Since I love hitting goals and playing around with gamification, it’s no wonder that I’ve really been into hitting this “ultimate goal” of the 50 books.
In fact this year, I decided to up it even more and started with 55 books. It was a tall order but doable.
But there was a problem.
Reading For Enjoyment…Or Reading For Goals?
I found in 2015, especially as I was getting to the end of the year and not wanting to ‘fail’ my Goodreads goal, I was just looking for easy wins.
Those books that I could bang out in a few days, that I knew I could read really quickly and count them.
As the year came to a close, hitting my goal became more important than the books I was reading.
As someone who prides themselves on being a reader, ouch that is a hard sentence to write.
The fact of the matter is, I’ve never read for any reason besides enjoyment. For me, reading has never been about how many books I could read, or hitting goals of books read, but learning about stuff, expanding my horizons or getting lost in a great story.
So in a way, for all the reasons I absolutely love a site like Goodreads, the unintended consequence of setting that yearly reading goal actually hurt the quality of my overall reading consumption.
I wish I had hit that epiphany on January 1st of 2016, but not so (I can be a bit slow). It wasn’t until I was almost halfway through the year that I realized once again my goal was causing me problems.
Could I read 55 books?
Sure, I could.
But I found every time I finished one book and opened my Kindle library to read another I would invariably choose with my goal in mind. Not with what actually excited me.
Sometimes I’d think how I could bang out something in two or three days because that was a good choice. So books I’ve been wanting to read for quite a while like Anna Karenina, Moby Dick, and Sapiens kept getting pushed back because I knew I could not read them in a week.
I dunno about you, but for me that’s no reason to not read a book.
So, it came to the point where I decided to dramatically lower my goal. Instead of 55 books, I moved it down to 45 books. I wanted to make sure I would never push off a quality book because of some self-imposed time constraint.
Reading Only Purely to Read
This year, I’ve dropped my number again, to 30 books. I’ve finally embraced the quality of books and challenging myself to read harder stuff is far more important than the number.
Last week, I wrote about my personal reading challenge for this year. It goes hand in hand with my goal of reading fewer books. In fact, if all I read are 24 books that hit the learning goals I set forward in that post I’d be really happy.
As with anything, gamification and social media has its ups and downs. I got into GoodReads to read more, but actually, it’s taught me to read less.
Funny how that works.