A few weeks ago I got a new phone. In the midst of transferring data and reinstalling apps, I looked at the Goodreads download screen with my thumb hovering over ‘Install’ for quite a while. Every reader I know has a Goodreads account. Honestly, for the organized types, it’s a true blessing. Imagine a virtual existence of your bookshelf with each shelf as a category. There’s the ones you read, the ones you want to, and the ones you’re currently reading. This doesn’t even include the ones you can create for whatever purpose. It’s extremely handy and useful, except sometimes it’s pretty overwhelming for me.
I like calling myself a reader, an avid reader even. I love fitting into this subcategory of people who read for leisure and joy. I don’t mean it in the snobby way. Not in the “I read for pleasure while you mindlessly watch television” because trust me, I’m also that person. It’s just that I like the thrill of new books. The reading of the synopsis and deciding if it’s worth my time and then deciding it is. I like the impact they leave, good or bad. I love that feeling of looking at a book covering and remembering the experience of it all. Sometimes I remember where I was in my life when I read it, how it impacted me then in comparison to now. I find myself in books, and there’s no better feeling.
Sadly, I’m also a slow reader. I have six months worth of book-mail piling up on my shelf and I’ve been reading the same three books since late February. This isn’t “sad” because the truth is that I have other duties to tend to. I launched a business, I have a child, I have shows to watch. Somehow, Goodreads manages to make guilty about it.
Each year there’s the goal you want to reach, how many books you want to read for the year. Last year I did 20, and i was proud. Really proud. This year? Not so much. Maybe it’s the power of comparison to others reading 15 books so far or even going through 5 in a month. I’m not that person, and to see that I’m behind on x amount of books for my yearly goal, it feels intimidating and disheartening.
It’s not the goals either. There’s a progress update feature on each book you read. It’s harmless, really, but isn’t that the downfall of anxiety? Harmless things meaning more than they should? Needless to say, I hate updating it. It’s not just how others see how slow I read, but because when it says it’s only 237 pages and for instance, when im 10% done with the book, a month later I’m only 12% finished. I’m not aiming to impress anyone, but it’s sort of makes me feel like what I’m proud of in my reading isn’t exactly that much to be proud of.
This isn’t a gripe with the site when you look at all, it’s just me. I mean, sure, none of this takes away that according to the site I’ve read 92 books in my life which is more than a lot of people I know around me, but it sort of paints this reflection of things I wish I could change about myself and can’t change overnight. Of course you could say it’s the power of comparison, how I see me vs them, my friends. Seeing all these people reading 90 books in a year while that’s my lifetime count is intimidating. It makes me question my passion for books, for literature. Should I be taking more time out of watching shows to read? What did I do last year to read so many in comparison to this year? Did I gain a gross habit that keeps me away from reading? Should I read even when I don’t feel like it? Is listening to an audio book even count as reading?
Then I get a little realistic. No one should be forced to read, even if it is for personal growth or gain. Just because I don’t have the time for my love doesn’t make me love it less. Most importantly, it’s not a race. Who am I competing against? I want to be better, of course, but it doesn’t mean I have to put myself down to get there. I thought this blog would be about me and reading is a huge part of me, but I can’t force myself into doing something I just don’t have the time to.
I’m sorry Goodreads. I didn’t mean to throw you under the bus while I had to find myself. I’m sorry I tried to make myself look better through you instead of being honest.
By the way, I downloaded the app. This time I’m approaching it all with a brand new perspective. I’m adding all five books I’m reading at once, I’m updating them when I feel like it no matter how fast or slow I’m going, and I’m going to enjoy it for what it is – a website connecting me to people who have the same love for literature as I do.