The Pressure to Read

I’ve been thinking a little bit lately about what my life would be like if I stopped keeping track of what I read.  If I stopped having a target number of books to read for a year.  If I let myself just read without any record-keeping or Goodreads goals or spreadsheet to tell me how many pages I’ve read in a year or what percentage of my books were authored by men.

Obviously, keeping track of my reads is something I opted to do.  I started keeping a spreadsheet of what I read and regularly updating my Goodreads account back in 2012, around the same time I started this blog.  It was neat to be able to go back and see what I’ve read and how much and how fast I could read and also to have some more overall statistics, like what are my preferred genres or how many backlist books do I actually read.  It was fun to have a goal and to challenge myself to try new genres or to read more.  And well, in the blogging world, if you don’t keep track of what you read, then how in the heck do you remember what you’re going to review or what to recommend to someone?  Really, the last two and a half years of my reading and blogging life have kind of depended on me filling in my spreadsheet and updating my Goodreads goals.  It it actually something I love to do after finishing a book.

But lately I am feeling the flip side of keeping track of it all and having goals.  It’s fun for me most of the time, but other times I find myself saying utterly ridiculous things like “I should be reading right now” or “this 500 page book is going to put behind my reading goal” or “gosh, I can’t have another lunch date this week, I NEED to be keeping up with my book.”  Yeah, utterly ridiculous in that I am putting some sort of pressure on myself to keep up with a goal that affects only me and that I’m not necessarily allowing myself to read whatever I want, whenever I want (which is one of my main priorities when it comes to books) and I actually want to blow people off and be antisocial because I feel some sort of obligation to read.  It’s hard for me to even call reading an obligation because I enjoy it, but maybe I am at a point where the other things I’ve added to my reading life (Goodreads, blogging, spreadsheets, goals) are taking away from my enjoyment.

I have been feeling an overwhelming sense that something has got to give in my life.  I don’t know what.  I don’t know why.  I just know that my desire to keep up with everything makes me more miserable than letting something go would.

How do you manage the “pressure” to read?  Do you keep Goodreads goals?  Will my world end if I stop keeping track of what I read?

Top Ten Tuesday: Reasons I Love Being a Reader/Blogger

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature/meme brought to you by the folks over at The Broke and the Bookish (the button also belongs to them).  This week’s theme is the Top Ten Reasons I Love Being a Reader and Blogger.

Why I love to read:

1. I am always learning something new when I read.  Recently I’ve learned about diverse topics like Dominican political history, tissue culture, and small-town life on the Plains.

2. Reading makes me think.  Books push me to imagine experiences and events I’ve never conceived of.  They get me thinking about language and art and what makes writing good and effective.  They get me to think about myself and my relationships and my life and what all that means.

3. Reading is entertainment.  So I get to have fun while I learn and think.  And I don’t really feel like I’m rotting my brain and turning into a vegetable when I do it.

4. Reading is my preferred way to fill blank spaces of time.  Stuck waiting in a doctor’s office?  Eating lunch alone?  On a long car ride?  Bring a book/audiobook and you won’t be bored!  And you don’t even have to worry about whether there is Wi-Fi or if your phone is charged!

5. Reading is a relatively low-cost hobby to have.  You don’t have to buy any fancy equipment to read and you can borrow an endless supply of excellent books from your local library.  Even if you don’t go to the library, used books are easily acquired and usually in great shape.

Why I love to blog about books:

6. Blogging about books helps me to think critically about what I read.  I get much more out of my reading when I spend some time reflecting on it.

7. Blogging has given me a source of endless book recommendations and has helped introduce me to excellent books I would not have read or heard of otherwise.

8. Blogging has introduced me to a lot of cool people from all over the country (and world).  It is really fun to develop those friendships and to have people to talk books with!

9. Blogging keeps me on the cutting edge of social media.  I would have never gotten a Twitter without blogging and yeah, I sort of love the Twitter.  I also signed up for an Instagram and Tumblr account recently, though I haven’t really figured out what to do with either.  But without blogging, I’d probably still be a Facebook-only girl.

10. Blogging gives me a hobby, other than reading, to work on.  It is my creative outlet.  It helps give me the drive to try new things and set goals and grow as a person.  And it keeps me accountable for some of those things.

Why do you love reading or blogging?