New Year’s Resolution: To Love Reading Again.

Hold it there! I’m not saying I don’t love reading, or that I stopped loving reading at any point. I’ve been a book-lover for as long as I can remember. When I was a kid, I heard the phrase ‘She’s always got her nose stuck in a book’ at least once a day, and that’s not even an exaggeration.

However, in 2016, I put too much pressure on reading. It became all about how many books I could finish each month, regardless of whether I was actually enjoying them. What’s worse, I became overly critical of those I did finish.

Partly responsible for this was the Goodreads reading challenge, which I don’t think I’ll ever do again. I’ve never counted the books I’ve read each year before – I just read them, and didn’t really think much about it. Reading was sort of like second nature to me; I just did it, because I wanted to.

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However, this year, I set myself the challenge of reading 100 books. To be honest, I probably normally read close to 100 books each year anyway. But because I had set myself this challenge, I started to worry about not getting enough books read each month. I read short books, and avoided the brick-like tomes I didn’t mind before. My reading habits had become about quantity, not quality.

 But then, quality had been messed up for me too!

 Lord, those 5-star ratings. I’ve given up on them now. Basically, I’d read a book, really Printenjoy it, and then I’d judge it unnecessarily harshly when it came to rating it. For example, I loved Faceless by Alyssa Sheinmel, but I gave it a 4-star rating because the writing wasn’t quite up to the same standard of the other books I’ve rated 5 stars. So what? It felt like a 5-star read, so that means it was a 5-star read for me!

 When it comes to rating books, I always compare them to my all-time favourites. So, along with Faceless, I was comparing books like CinderPaper Butterflies, Ready Player One and Nina is Not OK to what, at the beginning of the year, I had considered to be the best books I’d ever read:

  • Wonder by R J Palacio
  • One Day by David Nicholls
  • We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler
  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

and others.

But just because they aren’t as good as my all-time favourites doesn’t mean they’re lacking! I’ve realised now I don’t need to have a ‘criteria’ for how good a book is. If I think a book is great, then that’s it. Just because it didn’t make me cry or the writing wasn’t perfect doesn’t mean I enjoyed it any less. No one’s going to argue with me and say, ‘No, actually, Emma, you didn’t like that book, you only think you liked it.’

 Besides, you can’t compare books like that, unless they have similar themes or storylines. Sure, I can compare Faceless to Wonder, but why on earth would you compare Ready Player One to To Kill a Mockingbird?

 Hence why I’ve given up on the star rating system now.

 My blog has been a huge part of this change in attitude to reading, just because I’ve never paid so much attention to what I’m reading before. This isn’t a bad thing – it’s made me think more about how diverse my reading habits are, for example – but it has definitely put a lot more pressure on it, and at times has taken away from the enjoyment of it.

 I’m therefore going to use this year to revisit some of the books I’ve previously enjoyed (re-reading was something else I avoided in 2016 because it wouldn’t go towards my reading challenge) and remind myself that reading is a pleasurable hobby, not a duty or a job. More than that, it’s something I love, and I think I just need to rediscover that love.

 Has anyone else discovered the ugly side of book blogging? Have you found yourself shying away from long books, or not re-reading your favourites, just so you can post more new books in your monthly wrap-ups? Have you found that you’ve become more negative about the books you are reading?

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14 thoughts on “New Year’s Resolution: To Love Reading Again.

  1. I like to give myself time to ponder and write about what I’ve read and I too discovered that setting myself targets to read x-number of books in a month or year meant I focussed too much on this and not what I enjoyed. I also ditched the 5-star rating thing some years back; it seemed that my frame of mind at the time influenced my chosen rating more than the book itself; maybe the topic was or wasn’t for me at the time of reading, for example, even if a book was well written.

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    1. Yes, I’ve noticed a lot of books that I’ve rated 5 stars and I think back and remember not thinking it was that great. And I’ve also rated certain books very low and then when I’ve thought about it later on I realise they were just average.

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  2. I relate to this so much! The Goodreads reading challenge made reading feel like a race and a chore to me, and I got so stressed trying to keep up with it, that it stopped me from taking the time to enjoy what I was reading. Like you, I also avoided re-reads, and convinced myself it was a waste of my time (when how can re-reading a book I love be a waste of time?!) My new years resolution this year is to read more slowly and mindfully, read exactly what I want, and not treat it like a race I have to complete!

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      1. That’s great! Me too, actually! I’m taking my time with each book, and I’m getting a lot more out of it. I have found though that reading slowly can put me in a reading slump, because I don’t always get as a hooked as I would if I was racing through.

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  3. Yes!! I started reading this at work but wasn’t able to comment then because I should have been working. Anyway, your post hits on what I sometimes grapple with the more I blog about books. I keep wanting to have fresh material to talk about and wanting to keep up with folks who read a whole lotta books in the year. Often I’ve had to remind myself why I started to blog about books – a hobby, simply to entertain myself, – and that usually helps me regain focus.
    As for rating, when I started doing that it was hard to set a criteria; but I’ve decided to rate based solely on whether or not I enjoyed a book, which works best for me because I enjoy books that are written and structured well (there are exceptions though if a story is very entertaining). Basically, whenever I start to go overboard on these reading n blogging things, I find my balance by reminding myself why I do it.

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    1. Great comment, thank you! I’m glad it’s not just me – I felt like I was being a bit of a traitor to book-lovers whenever people on YouTube were gushing about all these books they love love LOVE every month and I’m thinking… I haven’t felt that way about a book for ages! But since I’ve decided this, I seem to be enjoying reading more already 🙂 but yes, having a blog will always put a little pressure on it because if we don’t read we can’t write!

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  4. Gosh this is such an important post- I know what you mean about feeling a lot more pressure- it can get overwhelming- even if you set a reasonable goal on GR. And I definitely find I feel like I have less time to reread and just enjoy books- which is ridiculous because that’s what it’s supposed to be all about!! Hopefully I can take a leaf out of your book and just learn to relax about it a bit more!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah I hope you can too! I’ve also noticed it’s meant I’ve been reading a few books at once, whereas last year I didnt let myself do that in case I lost my rhythm with the first book. But sometimes you just don’t feel like reading that book so it’s good to have a few on the go at once!

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