2020 Reading Challenge

The pile of books I own but haven’t read would astound even the most astute hero. Hermione Granger, Belle, and Rory Gilmire might all hesitate before attempting to climb my particular TBR mountain. To give you an idea, I could start a new one every single day for the next 4 years and still not reach the bottom of the stack. I know: it’s one part impressive, one part startling, and two heaping spoonfuls of overwhelming.

Every year I make my pledge to Goodreads and write out my own little reading challenge for the year. For those who don’t feel the need to obsessively track every book they have ever read, Goodreads let’s you set a personal challenge every year and keeps track of it throughout the next rotation around the sun. I am a diehard, I will admit it. There is something so satisfying with watching your total tally tick slowly upwards knocking down my mountain one paperback at a time.

And yet, every year there is a single glaring issue with my plan: I continue to collect more than I read. This past year, for example, I bought twice as many books as I was actually able to finish. And then in December I gave myself a panic attack realizing how long it would take me to even find the halfway point of my current pile. How large would it grow to next year? And how many gems were stagnating in my personal catacombs, forever waiting for me to grace them with my attention? It was time for a change.

This year I’ve decided to try something a little bit different. Instead of following a pre-perscribed challenge full of obscure criteria surrounding colors, birthdates, or numbers of penguins on the cover (I can’t say I’ve actually come across this particular gem in my challenges, but I feel like it will be my personal mission to create it myself at some point this year). I’m making my own personal goals to follow through on. So without ado: the TBR-Crushing m
Master Plan of the book fiend.

Goal #1: End the Year with Less Books than I Started

Its a shocking concept, I know! Actually read the books I buy? What? I’ve never considered this before! I’ll be honest, I will never be able to stop getting new books. I’ve tried that path, and it didn’t work. I love being able to pick up the newest book in a series I’ve followed for years, or try my hand at a little nugget that alights my interest like an ember sparking dry grass. I don’t want to deny myself these small pleasures in a world that has so much to offer. So instead, I’m going to focus on actually reading books as soon as I buy them..if it seems worth reading right that moment, then I can get it. It jumps to the front of the line. No wasting time and money on things that look tangentially interesting- or even worse, things that I want to be interested in, but I’m really not. If I read every new book I buy, plus a few from my tombs- poof, I will end the year with less than I started. Even if it’s just one less- that’s still better than I’ve done for year.

Goal #2: Be Willing to Say Goodbye

I am a sucker for finishing what I have started. I can’t help it. I have slogged through books that put me to sleep, taken my headphones out without realizing I forgot to hit pause on my audiobook, and flat out didn’t care to go backwards before. I am learning that just because I own it doesn’t mean I have to like it. And if I don’t like it, I don’t have to waste the precious time I could be spending on one of the other hundred(s) waiting in line for their own chance to be seen. Not every book will light a spark in every person. I don’t have to try to be the right person every single time. I can say goodbye and set them down in the DNF pile to give to someone else who might appreciate their charms.

Goal 3: Quality Beats Quantity

I will admit- I have rushed through my share of books in an attempt to increase my tally, to make my little dent a bit more noticeable. I have picked out my quicker reads and left larger tomes locked away just to hit my numbers at the end of the month. I’ve turned reading into a task to be checked off of a list at the end of the day. I forget to find enjoyment in what I love. I commit the worst crime of all (even worse than bending pages to mark my spot). I don’t absorb or retain the words because I’m in such a hurry to get through them. So this year- I set my Goodreads goal low. I take breaks when I catch myself getting caught up in numbers. I prioritize other things: like my writing, or a bit of yoga to give my poor little brain a rest. No more distractions with books; it’s time to let them inspire me again with all of the beauty they have inside.

Goal 4: Variety is the Spice of Life

There is one goal that will not change: variety in my reading. I still want to experience pieces of the world that I wouldn’t normally, to learn about people with a very different perspective or experience. I want to soak up everything that books do best- teach us about one another and ourselves. But I’m not going to force myself into a rigid structure. I’m going to follow the flow of my interests wherever they take me- goodness knows I have enough fodder to keep myself inspired no matter where my imagination roams. This is the one thing that I always did right.

Goal 5: Share what I Love

I am not a huge fan of writing book reviews; I know, it’s a bit silly when you realize that I have a blog dedicated to creating and consuming books. But I have always hated the idea of being critical of another artist’s work, primarily because I know what it’s like to create. Book reviews and opinions are so subjective, and I wouldn’t want to turn someone away from a book that could wind up being their literary soulmate just because it didn’t speak to me personally. That being said, when I find something that sparks my interests, I am the type who will gush about it, yelling from the rooftops. So from now on: I will spend more time sharing the things that spoke to me, telling you all about the books that touched me, made me reconsider my life, or just plain taught me something interesting and new. After all, when you love something, the best thing you can do is give it wings to fly.

So cheers, my dears- to another trip around the sun. May we find inspiration and adventure beside newfound characters. Mau we find comfort in the tried and true friends of years gone by. May we explore and experience. But most of all- may we enjoy this journey.