As of the time I’m writing this I am 6 books behind meeting my reading goal for 2021. My goal was 50 books. I think I’ve got it in me to maybe finish 2 more if I’m dedicated, but realistically I think it’s most likely going to just be one. This sits me at a nice healthy 45.
As for my TBR-shelf Challenge? Well, of the 36 books, I read 14. That’s also 14 of the 45 total books read. Which, honestly, I’m okay with. That means I read a little more than one book per month off of my TBR-shelf. For a compulsive book buyer that is very good!
This year has really taught me to accept the work I’m able to do and celebrate my accomplishments for what they are. So, instead of feeling super disappointed in myself for not hitting 50 books, like my Critic so desperately is screaming, I’m going to try something new. Let’s rejoice in the fact that I read 10 more books than last year!
What did my stats look like in 2021?
That’s right! It’s time for charts! My Critic loves tracking stuff so this is for that numbers game nagger.
Seeing them all laid out like this makes me feel like I truly have read a lot of books this year.
Do reading challenges take into account how I refuel creatively?
Here’s the downside of letting the Critic in on reading. Tracking your reading numbers means that you can compare your reading numbers to somebody else’s. The Critical Self will absolutely do this. Mine absolutely does this.
There’s a lot of discourse about reading challenges/reading number goals and if they’re helpful or hurtful in the end. I like setting a challenge, but in the end I think I do get caught up in it at the end of the year. It’s almost as if I think that in order to be a true writer I need to be reading hundreds of books a year. After all, they say that to be a great writer you need to be a voracious reader. But, am I not? Doesn’t it count to read something…anything? Do I not inhale stories so often in so many different forms already?
Therein lies what I believe is my biggest issue with reading challenges. It doesn’t include “stories,” just books.
My big influences to my creative self this year might have been a film I watched, a drama that caught my attention, a webcomic that I binged one afternoon, or even a song that I’ve had on repeat for months. Do those count toward my reading goal? No. Do they count toward my “creative inhale,” the creative fueling between when I need to “exhale” and use the ideas I have? Yes, absolutely. Those have inspired scenes, plot points, and entire stories!
I track my reading so that my Critic has something to do. But, in the end, I think my Creative misses out on some of the fun.
Plans for next year’s reading?
I’m still thinking about my reading challenge next year. I might set it meaningfully yet achievably low and then see how far I can go from there. That would trick my Critic into the satisfaction of beating a consequential number, as well as the overall tracking, but also give my Creative the freedom to read whenever and however much is feeling good.
I would love to be the type of writer who can read 100 books per year. But, I really need to stop setting expectations for myself based on what other people are doing. I am my own person, my own writer, and I need to create as such. I don’t just fuel myself creatively from books and that is perfectly fine.
How did your reading challenge go? Will you be setting one for 2022? What other forms of creative fuel did you have this year?