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Features | My Goodreads Reading Challenge Obsession

This year I'm taking part in the Goodreads reading challenge for the first time. For a few years now I've set myself an informal goal to read at least 52 books every year, but I never had any desire before to make it official in any way and I certainly didn't mind too much if I didn't achieve it. It's a pretty arbitrary goal anyway. What do I really achieve if I read a book a week? Well, currently I have over 80 books, in real piles on my bedroom floor and virtual piles in my Kindle and iBooks apps, that I haven't read yet. Somehow I just keep acquiring them faster than I can read them so I thought perhaps this year, in an effort to really drive myself to read them all, I would make it official. I would declare my intent to read at least 52 books online for all to see!

It's working. I've already read 18 books. I'm 4 books ahead of schedule. But the thing is, it's mostly working because I've become more than a little bit obsessed with it. There was a little jolt of joy when the Goodreads sidebar first told me I was ahead of schedule. A little flash of pride when I saw I was 2 books ahead now. Then there was a quick stab of panic when I saw that the number had gone down from 4 to 3. There was a week where I checked almost every day to see when exactly the number goes down. Is it Saturday or Sunday when I go from being 3 ahead to only 2? When do I need to make sure I finish this book by to keep my lead?

The last time I recall feeling obsessed with reading in this way was when, at about five years old, I decided I needed to be "better at reading" than one of the boys in my class. He didn't realise we were in a competition any more than the Goodreads challenge does. It's entirely possible that this competitive reading is unhealthy and I shouldn't be encouraging it in myself but I did have a reading age of 16+ at age 11 as a result of that one-sided competition so I can only conclude that this sort of thing works.

I also like that I can see all the books I've read so far in neat little rows on my Goodreads challenge page. It's nice to have a quick overview of the sort of books I'm reading right now. Perhaps we'll say that that is the reason I've become obsessed and not just because it feels good to be ahead of the fairly arbitrary goal that I set myself and that no one else really cares about. Let's pretend it's because I like the organisation of it all instead.

Are you taking part in the Goodreads reading challenge? Are you also oddly obsessed with it? Is this normal? Please tell me I'm not alone!

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