I Failed My 2019 Goodreads Reading Challenge
The new year is lurking around the corner, and I am 26 books away from meeting my Goodreads goal for 2019. Even if there are a few more weeks to go, I will never hit the 52 books I challenged myself to read.
Sounds like I failed big time, huh? I barely read half the number of books I was planning to. But the funny thing is: I don’t feel like a failure. I feel like I won at the reading game this year, even though I’m 26 books short of my goal.
The Problem With Goodreads
In spite of what my Goodreads challenge says, I have read a lot this year — far more than ever before. However, my reading tastes seem to have changed. My stats show me a different picture than they did last year:
Apparently, I moved from easy-to-read and generally short Young Adult contemporaries towards longer and more demanding fantasy series. Many of the books I finished this year were over a thousand pages (thank you, George R. R. Martin!).
And that’s the problem with the Goodreads challenge: It does not account for page counts. It simply counts the number of “books read”, no matter if they have fifty pages or a thousand.
The Fear of Big Books
Big books with more than a few hundred pages used to give me the creeps. The absolute maximum I would dare reading was 350 pages. Time is scarce, and anything above that just seemed like too much of a commitment.
Then I discovered A Song of Ice and Fire (commonly known as Game of Thrones, but I’m sure you know that). I didn’t plan for it to happen, but once I picked up the first book, I knew I would have to read the entire series.
I used to commute to my old office by train, and whenever I had a few minutes to spare at the station, I would pop into the bookshop and saunter around the fantasy shelve.
I didn’t really care for fantasy back then. But that shelve was standing right next to the entrance and I didn’t have much time …
A Game of Thrones — A Game of Pages
I don’t even remember what was wrong with me that day I randomly picked up A Game of Thrones and decided I had to read it despite the 800+ page count. The hideous yellow cover with the unidentifiable dragony thing on it should have had me running, but I felt like I was up for a challenge.
If you’ve watched the TV series, you know how addictive George R. R. Martin’s universe and especially his characters are. I just couldn’t put the book down. After finishing it, I went right back to the bookshop and bought all of the sequels at once.
In retrospect, I owe it to Mr. Martin that I’m no longer afraid of big books. The past year has taught me that I can tackle them. No need to be afraid.
Coming back to my Goodreads book count for the year, it is mainly because of Mr. Martin that it’s so much lower than expected. I could have read at least five shorter books for every one of his tomes.
I have no regrets, though. Arya alone was worth it.
It’s Not About the Numbers
I fell into a huge black hole after reading book 5 in the series (books 6 and 7 are still not out yet, but I’m sure you know that, too). If you’ve ever fallen in love with a book, you know the struggle …
I tried filling the void with my former favourite genre, YA contemporary. Yet somehow, that wouldn’t satisfy me anymore.
Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoy a YA contemporary here and there, but I can’t read several in a row anymore. I just get bored by the same concepts over and over again.
So I dived back into more fantasy. The fantasy genre seems to have higher page counts by its very nature. It also tends to have a lot of series, so after reading one huge tome, you’re usually straight onto the next one. That takes time.
Therefore, my 2019 Goodreads challenge really doesn’t feel like a failure. I might not have read 52 books, but I sure as hell have read tens of thousands of pages and met some of my new favourite characters.
That’s why it feels like a win.
If you love books and reading as much as I do, I invite you to join my Bookish Bits newsletter. I promise not to spam you, because reading time is precious. Let’s share our love of reading!