Fiction Addiction: The Challenge with Reading Challenges

It’s been quite a while since I made a post specific to my reading challenges, but as the year is wrapping up and I start to look ahead to next year’s potential challenges, I’ve realized something. Reading challenges have become a bit of an addiction for me, but I’m not entirely sure if that’s a bad thing.

I realized it a couple of days ago when I found myself scanning through Pintrest boards (and I don’t even have Pintrest!) and looking at lists of prompts for various challenges. I found myself mentally filling in titles that might work for those prompts. Just yesterday, I went back to this year’s Modern Mrs. Darcy challenge, which I had previously considered for this year and decided against, and found myself very motivated to take it on. I’d originally decided against it because I didn’t find the prompts particularly interesting or different from challenges I was already doing, but the more I looked at the list, the more I realized it fit very well with many of the books I had in mind for next year.

To be fair, I’m not sure if this was really a compulsion to take on yet another challenge, or if it was just my way of problem-solving some of the gaps I had for fitting in some of the books I really want to read. Even this year, I’ve been stressing about finishing all the challenges I had in mind by the end of the year. It will be tight, but I think I’ll be able to do it. I’ve already committed to the Goodreads Around the Year Challenge and the PopSugar challenge, and I’m waiting for BookRiot to put out their list to decide if I want that one too. I was worried about taking on too much, especially since many of the books I have in mind are on the longer side. Next year’s basically become “the year of the series” with many prompts filled in by books from the great series I’m in the middle of.

I originally considered PopSugar’s Fall 2016 challenge, but as of last night, I find my interest in that one waning. There are a few books I had in mind for it that I still really want to read, but it looks like it won’t be a problem to fit those in to Modern Mrs. Darcy or my other challenges instead. As I looked at the list I had put together, I found myself not particularly excited for most of them. I was actually surprised that the Modern Mrs. Darcy challenge suddenly became so appealing, but I’ve never participated in any of hers before so it might be nice to try something new.

The main reason I think the challenges have become addictive is because I find something so satisfying about crossing items off the list, but I also get frustrated with myself if I can’t finish the whole challenge in time. The addiction aspect comes in from sometimes tending to take on more than I can reasonably manage. The planning process in itself is so much fun for me that I might get so caught up in it that I don’t think through how I will actually be able to read them all. I struggle with the idea of extending the timeline since it seems to defeat the purpose of having a challenge for the year, and I’ve yet to work out how to manage the logistics of how to keep track of what I’m reading.

On the other hand, I’m not sure it’s a bad thing. I briefly considered abandoning the challenges and just reading what I want (which would probably be most of the same books I had planned anyway), but I find the challenges are the best way to keep me motivated. I need challenges that have specific prompts because they have a set endpoint. I know a lot people do challenges to just read a certain number of books within the year, but I wouldn’t be motivated by that. If I saw myself struggling to reach the number I picked, I’d be a lot more likely to just lower the target under the guise of being “more realistic,” instead of pushing myself to finish. With a list of prompts, I don’t get the same feeling that it is completed until I’ve managed to cross everything off the list, and I never want to remove prompts (even when they’re really annoying!). I don’t see it as a bad thing though because even though the challenges can be stressful at times, they’re still a lot of fun!


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