Three Reasons I Love Book Challenges (and Three Reasons I Don't)

One thing I've learned since I started blogging and interacting with other bookworms online: book challenges aren't for everyone.  And I get it.  I mean, I would say I generally have fun participating in challenges -- but, as the title of this post suggests, I don't love every single thing about them.

Three Reasons I Love Book Challenges:

1.) Book challenges often force me to get out of my reading comfort zone.

I talked a little about the importance of reading outside your comfort zone in this post, and I stand by that.  If I only stuck to "safe" books (a.k.a. books in my favorite genres, books by my favorite authors, books about topics I'm very interested in, etc.), I might never have discovered some of the books I've fallen in love with. 

This isn't always the case, of course -- I've definitely read some books outside my reading comfort zone for book challenges that were horrible.  But at least I gave them a shot. 

The thing is, I probably wouldn't push myself to read books outside my reading comfort zone as often if I didn't participate in book challenges.  It's easy to add a book from a genre I wouldn't normally go for (like historical fiction or science fiction, for example) to my "To Read" list ... But to actually read it?  Sometimes I need that extra little push -- and that's exactly what a book challenge gives me.

2.) I think it's fun to search for books that will fit a certain book challenge category.

I spend way too much time on Goodreads in general, but when new book challenge categories are announced, I can literally spend hours searching for the "perfect" book for each category.  (While simultaneously combing through my "To Read" list, of course.) 

Is this a good use of my time?  Well ... No.  Obviously not.  But it's something I really enjoy, and it makes me happy to make lists and plan (especially if it involves books!).  I think if something brings you joy, it's never a waste of time -- and this brings me joy.

3.) Book challenges inspire me to read more.

I typically read quite a few books in a year.  (To give you some idea, last year I read a total of 69.)  For some people, that's nothing -- I know there are many people who can easily read 100+ books in a single year.  To others, that's a huge number ... In fact, years ago I struggled to meet a goal of 50 books in a year.  I think one year not so long ago I may have only read one or two books because I just didn't have the time.

Anyway, the point is that although I typically read what I would consider a decent amount of books in a year, a book challenge will inspire me to read more books in a shorter time span.  This, in turn, ultimately helps me reach my overall book goal for the year ... Or at least get close.  (Last year I wanted to get to 70, but it just didn't happen.  I was still very close to hitting that goal, though!)  As a person who enjoys setting (and, of course, reaching!) goals, this is both a fun and useful part of book challenges.

Three Reasons I Don't Love Book Challenges:

1.) I sometimes feel like I'm "stuck," forced to prioritize book challenge books over other books I may want to read more.

I'd say that, for the most part, I'm a mood reader.  I try to always keep a large stack of library books checked out so I can choose my next read based on what I'm feeling most interested in at the moment.  (Though this sometimes bites me in the ass because I'm forced to race through the ones with long waiting lists!)  There are times, though, when I don't really know what I'm in the mood for.  Book challenge picks are obviously great options in these cases.

That being said, sometimes I realize, "Oh shit, I really wanted to finish this challenge, and I only have two weeks left to read 4 books!"  I try to plan better, but sometimes it just doesn't happen.  In those cases, I sometimes feel annoyed that I'm stuck reading books I'm not necessarily in the mood for because I just want to finish the challenge.  I know I don't have to do it, and there's no penalty for not completing a challenge ... But I like finishing the things I start.  So I'll usually just suck it up and read the books even if I'm not particularly interested in them at the moment.

2.) Book challenges don't always allow me to cross things off my "To Read" list.

While I'm all for pushing myself to read outside my comfort zone (which may mean, in some cases, looking beyond my "To Read" list for books to satisfy challenge categories), I'm also one of those people who has an ever growing "To Read" list.  Yes, I mark plenty of books off throughout the year, but it's definitely not enough to make a very noticeable dent.

I'm sure most booklovers have this issue -- I mean, there are always going to be new releases, rave reviews, books you stumble upon while clicking through Goodreads, etc.  It makes sense, then, that a "To Read" list will always be growing.  But, while I'd like to think I've been a little better about finding books on my "To Read" list to use in book challenges, I still sometimes feel like I'm neglecting my list in favor of other books.

3.) Sometimes a book challenge can go on for too long (or, conversely, the book challenge feels too short).

I don't really consider myself to be a fast reader.  I'm sure some people would disagree, but I just don't think that I am.  If a book challenge requires that I cram 10-20 books into the span of a couple of months, I sometimes feel like I shouldn't even bother.  I think the most I've ever read in a single month was 9 books, but that was definitely a fluke -- I've never been able to achieve that again.  I don't want to feel pressure (even if it's just personal pressure) to read at a pace I'm not comfortable with, so I typically will either not finish a short challenge or not bother starting it at all.

On the other hand, there are book challenges that last for an entire year.  While I'm not entirely opposed to this (I'm participating in the 2018 PopSugar Reading Challenge, after all!), knowing I have a whole year makes me feel less inclined to read books for the challenge.  To be fair, I've only committed myself to completing 50% of this challenge, but I've noticed that I haven't been as quick to choose books to read that fit the challenge categories when compared with choosing books for a shorter book challenge (like Erin's).

What are some reasons I didn't mention that you either like or dislike reading challenges? 

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