How My Blog Ruined My Love for Reading and Why I’m No Longer Setting A Goodreads Goal

In psychology, the overjustification effect refers to the phenonmenon in which a person becomes less intrinsically motivated to do something after they begin receiving external rewards for doing that thing.

22 comments

In psychology, the overjustification effect refers to the phenonmenon in which a person becomes less intrinsically motivated to do something after they begin receiving external rewards for doing that thing.

How does this relate to the state of my blog and my reading life and the relation between the two as characterized in my clickbait-y title? Well, in the couple of years since I started my blog, I’ve noticed a trend that has admittedly started to bother me.

The Shift in my Motivation for Reading

As a kid, reading for me was like breathing air. I devoured books like I needed them to survive. I read Magic Tree house installments by the dozen during our summer camp library trips. I surreptitiously turned on the light at night to have more time to read after my parents told me to go to bed. I took home stacks from the library 20 books deep. I read multiple books every day– why? Because I simply loved it.

I loved the *act* of reading. I loved how I could find myself totally and completely absorbed in my current book. I loved how I could be kept on the edge of my seat just by words on the page.

When I started my book blog, it was like rediscovering that old love, the one high school and life in general had sucked out of me. For a while, this pure passion for reading was what spurred me to continue voraciously flying through books.

But after a couple of months and years, something gradually began to shift.

The problem, ironically, was how much I loved blogging. I found myself looking forward to writing a review on my opinions of a book more than I looked forward to actually finishing the book. In a way, I was reading for content.

Of course I still loved to read, but I was slowly realizing that I was running into a real risk of commodifying my favorite hobby– of turning books into a means to an end that was different from enjoyment in it of itself.

Writing book reviews was fun, of course, but I didn’t want to turn into someone who read books just to say I’d read them. I wanted to return to the person I used to be, when I read purely because I loved the act of reading. That brings me to the next section of this post: why I’m quitting the Goodreads Reading Challenge.

Why I’m Quitting the Goodreads Reading Challenge

Every year since 2017, I’ve participated in the Goodreads Reading Challenge. It’s a great way to keep yourself motivated to read more books, and I prided myself on surpassing my goal of 100 books a year in both 2020 and 2021. However, I recently made the decision to quit the Goodreads Reading Challenge and stop setting myself a specific reading goal in the form of “number of books read per year.” Here’s why:

1) The Goodreads Goal isn’t a useful way to actually measure how much you’re reading

I’ve slowly come to the realization that the Goodreads goal is a rather misleading statistic to use to measure reading progress. Because all books are not created equal. That person you feel stupid compared to, who’s read 200 books already this year– is their entire list made up of short stories, graphic novels, and YA books?

It doesn’t make sense to count a two-page short story as worth the same as a 800-page Stephen King novel or demanding classic. When you really think about it, the number of books you read per year is not actually a legitimate or reliable reflection of your reading progress. Books vary way too much in terms of length, density, and difficulty level.

2) The Goodreads Goal was causing me to read for a number

Let me just admit it: I like to see my number of books read in the year increase and bring me closer to fulfilling a goal. It makes me feel accomplished. But the problem arises when that’s one of my main justifications for reading.

It causes me to read for the purpose of FINISHING another book– not for enjoying another book. That’s why I’m going to start setting goals in terms of the time I spend reading each day, which will force me to focus on the pure act of reading, rather than how many books I’m finishing.

I’m planning to set my goal to “1 book” each year, as I’ve seen others do– so that I’ll still be able to see my yearly summary of books, but not feel the pressure to reach some sort of goal or become worried about the progress bar.

In conclusion, yes, this post was clickbait-y, but I’ve been doing quite a bit of reflection on my reading life and have felt the need to change the way I approach setting reading goals.

Do you feel that blogging has changed the way you read? How do you set reading goals? Let me know in the comments!

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22 comments on “How My Blog Ruined My Love for Reading and Why I’m No Longer Setting A Goodreads Goal”

  1. I can definitely relate to your experiences, I felt the same for quite a while, but after much reflection, and deleting Goodreads and bookstagram, I can say that 2022 has been a good reading year quality-wise and attitude-wise. When I got into the online book community, I started getting swept up by numbers, reading more and more, however, that shouldn’t be anyone’s priority. Yes, goals could be nice if they come from within, and not as a way to show other people some things. I see so many people forcing themselves to read more, or skim read a bunch of books, or pick up a billion graphic novels just so they can achieve their Goodreads goal. But I think reading should never be a competition, and forcing yourself to read just for the sake of quantity is never the good answer.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. yeah. I agree with that. I could never delete goodreads, as I love it and use it to track my reading, but I definitely am a little too addicted to updating my read books on goodreads instead of just reading to read

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This was good to read. Thank you. I think that the idea of challenges is a helpful way to hold yourself accountable as you’re trying new daily routines. This was a good way to think about quality v. quantity or how taking part in something like this could defeat the initial purpose of trying the challenge.

    Right now, I am reading more narrative non-fiction and memoirs, especially from a variety of female authors. I think this is partly because I am currently attracted to strong female stories of navigating trauma or challenging situations because I felt I was reading too many non-fiction/scientific journal article types about what health things have happened recently and I maybe wanted to reassure myself all will be ok.

    I have a goal of one audio book and one physically written book per month. So far, that is not unrealistic.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I think what you are describing is not dissimilar from being in a book club. Some people in the club are only reading the books to have the social experience or to talk about the book because they like to express their opinions. Blogging isn’t as social, but it has some of that and certainly has the expressing of opinions part. Nothing wrong with any of that, but it is wise of you to recognize tendencies you want to change.

    From what I’ve read, your blog posts (like this one) are usually more interesting when they aren’t about a specific book. Maybe you don’t need to read a high volume of books to keep writing at the same pace (which seems to be the part you enjoy most)?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. yeah, the only problem is that there are so many books I want to *have read* and not enough time lol so I feel as though I need to rush for that reason as well. Although I am trying to stop the numbers-focused mindset

      Like

  4. I do think it’s important to recognize when you’re feeling this way. When I start feeling like I’ve just turned into a promotional machine for my blog & what I’m reading, I tend to take a step back for a day and ignore everything. I hope this is the rest that you need! One positive point about having a Goodreads goal, though, is that it serves as, well, a goal, a source of encouragement. If I hadn’t set a goal, sure, I’d still read. But I’d probably read less and consume more TV or internet or whatever. However, I make sure that goal is still attainable, or even just a small stretch so that it doesn’t turn into a burn out number. Just something to think about in a world full of distractions!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Good for you, Emily! It took me a long time to recognize that the number of books I read in a certain period of time is just that – a number. I’m a slow reader that likes to savor books and re-read certain scenes simply to admire them, and I used to get really self-conscious when it took me a month to read a single book. But now, what with college, and my new acceptance on my pace, my goal is kinda like yours: read at least one book a year, and enjoy the journey!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. yeah, I’m definitely not going to have the time to read as many books as I read in a year right now when I start college (in a week!) so I think it’s good to move away from a numbers-oriented reading goal

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I love this post Emily, and I kind of see where you’re coming from, because I too sometimes feel reading’s a chore, and for all the reasons you’ve stated. That’s probably why I stopped writing reviews, haha.

    Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

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