Let’s Talk: Reading Challenges and Competitive Reading

Happy Friday everyone! So, we’re coming to that time of the year when everyone is setting New Year’s Resolutions, deciding their reading goals and getting ready for new reading challenges.

Which means it’s time for another session of RYANN MAKES A BAD BOOKWORM CONFESSION!! studio audience cheers I didn’t reach my 2017 Goodreads goal. I was close, but close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades. And, given the year I’ve had, I’m definitely okay with that.

Over the summer, I tried to participate in a few reading challenges to try to help me meet my 2017 reading goal. And it made me realize, while I can definitely appreciate having a reading goal, I have some mixed feelings about reading challenges, and this sort of idea of competitive reading.


I love reading, but sometimes reading challenges really put me off. It’s great to have goals set up, and I definitely admire the people who can read 7000 books in a year I couldn’t even get through 65. But I just couldn’t get into them, for a couple reasons.

The biggest reason is really simple: I’m a lazy reader. I like to take my time and read what I want, when I want. Reading challenges generally make me feel more stressed than I want to be, and, instead of making me feel more encouraged to read, make me want to put it off because it becomes less enjoyable.

A big part of this is that reading challenges are often competitive. A group of people all participate in a challenge, and then compare how many books everyone completed. For me, the worst is when these challenges offer a prize for the “winner.” Essentially, it turns reading into a competition. Now, I get that some people see reading challenges as an incentive to read more or get out of a slump, but it can be frustrating when people take something like reading, which encourages people to connect with each other and be open-minded, and turn it into a competition with people trying to “out-read” each other; pitting reader against reader.

Which can leave people feeling really inadequate. Some people just don’t read as fast as others, which should be okay, but reading challenges can make it seem like a fault. New bloggers can become discouraged when they see how many books one person gets through, when the new blogger has read far fewer. It can be hard as an adult to participate in reading challenges, because you know that when you’ve got a job, college classes, and a house to take care of, there’s just no way you can compete with a high school student on summer vacation.

I’m not saying that reading challenges are bad in and of themselves; I’ve seen many people participate in them and have a lot of fun! I’ve seen some great reading challenges that encourage people to read more diverse books. I’ve known people who were in a terrible reading slump get pulled back into reading by a well-planed reading challenge! But sometimes, at least in my experience, there have also been times where they seemed more discouraging than helpful.

So, as we head into the New Year, try to make sure your reading challenges are inclusive and encouraging. And if you participate in reading challenges, just remember that reading should never be a competition.


Thanks for reading!

What are your reading goals for 2018? What are your thoughts on reading challenges? Do you participate in them? Let me know in the comments below!

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16 thoughts on “Let’s Talk: Reading Challenges and Competitive Reading

  1. I completely see where you’re coming from but for me I love participating in challenges and readathons and such. It motivates me to read more. I myself am a slow reader as well. I don’t compare myself and my accomplishments to others because I know what’s realistic for them isn’t realistic for me so I just compete with myself really. Great post!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I agree ! It sort of puts this idea in our heads that we’re not real readers or don’t read enough, which is, honestly, just wrong, because reading is something personal. I do participate in reading challenges though, if I know I’ll have fun and not care about prizes or goals.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Absolutely agree, Ryann. Even though I’m a competitive person and perfectionist by nature, it’s mostly just with myself – not others. I like to challenge myself and see how far I can go, but I try not to feel bad if I don’t get there. It’s the effort and the determination that counts and reading, like many hobbies, should be done for fun. Not to get stressed over.
    I’m being a bit hypocritical here, as I do experience some anxiety over my Goodreads/blogging goals but in the end, I think I’m still quite content no matter the result 🙂
    Hopefully, I’ll finish the challenge before the year ends. But if not, I’ll be fine!
    I’m glad you have such a laid-back attitude towards it, as it inspires me to be the same way. Thanks for another wonderful, positive and encouraging post! ❤

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’m the same kind of competitive! I just want to do better than my earlier self! It can be hard to find that balance of challenging myself, but not getting too down on myself if I don’t reach my goals, so I definitely applaud you for that!

      And I’ve also definitely felt that Goodreads anxiety. Especially near the end of the year!

      (Also, hearing that I’ve inspired you has totally made my day!!! :D)

      Like

      • Hahaha yay to making your day! Your inspiration made mine 😊❤️
        Definitely, I think that’s the only kind of competition that there should be, otherwise one ends up insanely frustrated – as it’s impossible to best every single person on the planet.
        Thanks, hon! 😄

        Like

  4. Great article! You have a point. But take it easy. Even I, myself is not a person who can read fast or read soo many books for a year. I like the reading challenge coz it keeps me motivated. But other than that i don’t bother. I always set a goal, for the number of books that i can read. For 2017 it is 40 and 2018 it is 60. So i am trying. But I totally agree with your article. It’s the hardcore truth.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I totally see where you’re coming from! I’m not a readathon fan. I just don’t have whole days to sit and just read. But I like setting a reading challenge for myself. Because if I don’t, I probably won’t read that much.
    But if I make lists of what I want to read, and when to read it, I’m much better about getting it done.
    And yeah, I think it’s weird to compete against other readers. That’s just not me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I always set my Goodreads Goal, because I like having something to aim toward. Unfortunately, I’m TERRIBLE at making reading lists! I’ll write one up for the month, but then I never end up sticking to it, I always read something else instead!

      Like

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