At the start of this year I made the decision to not participate in the Goodreads Readers Challenge this year. For me, it was driving the wrong sorts of behaviors. I do plan a deep dive into my anxiety, introversion, and high-functioning depression eventually, but for now let’s just say that it was pressure that I didn’t need. The intention was to inspire me to read more, but it turned into another project to be organized, and another daily box to check. Reading became one more chore. It was not at all relaxing or edifying.
The other day I finally went ahead and deleted my account. Even though I’m not doing the challenge, I still found myself thinking about updating it. I was pondering ways to use Goodreads to keep track of assorted research projects. There was still part of my brain that wanted to utilize it to guilt me into reading more. Because it’s public, I was browbeating myself into trying to read things that would communicate the kind of person I want people to think I am. That’s not healthy.
I’m tracking things I need to read for research in a journal. The back of a journal, actually. Long lists go out of immediate sight, for reference. I pick a few things, 3 to 5 things, for my “get around to this in the current month” list. Then I read one, with an eye on the next one. Because the need is to gain information, I give myself permission to spend as long as I need on any given title. There’s no race to hit a number.
With reading for pleasure, I pick a book and read. As I get close to the end, I start deciding on what the next book is going to be. No lists, and no artificial quotas to fill. If a book bores me, I stop reading and move on. No audience to play to, so I can savor a book for as long as I like. I can binge as I have time, and eat up a book I’m enjoying in a day or two. All at my pace.
I’m not saying that there’s anything wrong with Goodreads. I think that it’s a great idea, a social network for readers, authors, and lovers of books in general. It’s no longer right for me, the needs I have, and the issues I’m currently working through.