reading challengeA timely article hit my RSS feed recently, from a Book Riot contributor who has set herself the 2015 challenge of…well, not having a challenge. Boy, can I relate! As Jessica Pryde explains:

“And then I realized, late this year, that I was reading myself crazy. I was reading while I was catching up on the DVR. I was reading while I was EATING DINNER. I was reading every chance I got. Not because I wanted to, but because I had to catch up…So in 2015, I’m going to give myself a year-long thirtieth birthday present. I’m going to give myself a break.”

Hear, hear! As I look back over the goals I first set for 2014, I find that I fell into this same trap as Ms. Pryde: I would read to meet a goal, not to enjoy a book. And I would feel guilty when I ‘failed’ to measure up to it somehow.

For instance, one of my goals was to read one Jewish book every month. And for the first few months, I enjoyed the goal immensely and read some very cool books. Then I started to notice a certain difficulty of this genre—every single book I found was Holocaust-themed. And sometimes, that works for me. I have read some extremely well-written books on this subject. But month in, month out, it got a little depressing for me. It was just too much! So, lesson learned: it’s better to set a goal to try something than to set a goal giving that something a numerical quota.

Another quota-based goal I failed to meet was to read one French book every month. It just was not feasible for me. I am a fluent speaker, but my reading pace is very slow. I am trying to improve my stamina but I find that for me, a little bit at a time done consistently is the way to go. I just could not finish books at the pace my ‘challenge’ dictated. Just after I threw in the towel on this one, I found a great series on the Kindle store which featured news articles and other short pieces presented in alternating French/translated English paragraphs. I bought all five volumes and have been working through them bit by bit. I may take more than one month to get through each title, but as a means to improve my French reading, this is a far more effective strategy than feeling guilty all the time for not being able to exceed an arbitrary pace I plucked from the sky.

In 2015, I want to just enjoy my books. If I want to read something, I’ll just read it. If I want to buy something, I’ll just buy it. I am going to take a page out of that Book Riot article and set a non-goal goal. Read books, any books, as many books as I want to. That is my reading challenge for 2015!

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"I’m a journalist, a teacher and an e-book fiend. I work as a French teacher at a K-3 private school. I use drama, music, puppets, props and all manner of tech in my job, and I love it. I enjoy moving between all the classes and having a relationship with each child in the school. Kids are hilarious, and I enjoy watching them grow and learn. My current device of choice for reading is my Amazon Kindle Touch, but I have owned or used devices by Sony, Kobo, Aluratek and others. I also read on my tablet devices using the Kindle app, and I enjoy synching between them, so that I’m always up to date no matter where I am or what I have with me."


  1. This has been my goal for several years when, like you, I found I wasn’t enjoying my books – they were just part of a goal. I’m happier and I’ve read some incredible books, and some really horrid books too. The horrid books convinced me to follow Nancy Pearl’s “rule of fifty”. Made a huge difference.

  2. After two and a half degrees in literature and my decision not to pursue teaching college, I swore that I’d never read a book because I had to or toward some goal or another. I’ve mostly kept to this promise, minus various contests I’ve judged, etc., and it’s been a good thing.

  3. I’ve come to notice that reading challenges are an annoyance in the long term, if you cannot achieve those naturally. I’ve had a shot two years in the row at the read x books this year challenge, and now that I have raised the bar, it is not fun anymore.
    Should I read more short (200p) books (and less magazines and papers, which are not counted) so that I achieve the goal, or continue with my “whatever I want” routine? This does not work. While I can understand some people like such a routine, I do not. While reading can help you achieve stuff, it should not be a monthly constraint.

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