Every year, readers come together from far and wide on the internet to create new goals for themselves. Some set a modest goal of reading, say, 20 books in one year. Others? I’ve seen people set goals upwards of 150 books in one year. (Yes, you read that correctly. 150 books. 1 year.)
Now, what I’m about to say might anger some of you, but hear me out: the number of books you read in a year doesn’t matter.
Or rather, it shouldn’t.
While I think that it’s fun to know how many books you read, I believe that it shouldn’t be the focus of everything. Reading is an experience, one that’s different for everyone, and it should be celebrated regardless of speed.
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Here are 5 reasons why I think the number of books you read in a year shouldn’t make or break your experience as a reader.
1. If you’re reading just to finish a book, you run the risk of missing out on the art of the story—of each sentence—that took the author a lot of time to craft and perfect.
Even if you’re not a writer yourself, you can understand the amount of work and time that goes into the development of each story. I’m not here to shame fast readers, I’m just here to encourage everyone to make sure that they’re reading slowly enough to process everything that’s happening in the world that lives within each page of a book. You’ll be doing the author and yourselves a service.
2. Reading shouldn’t be a competition—with others or with yourself.
If you read just one book a year, you’re still reading. If you read 20 books less than you did last year, you’re still reading. If you read 50 books in a year and your friend reads 80, you’re both still reading. The point? The most important thing is that people read. Period.
It’s easy to compare your number to other people’s, it’s easy to compare your number to what you’ve done in the past, and it’s really easy to beat yourself up because of it or just give up on reading altogether. Don’t let that happen. Everyone should read at their own comfortable pace.
3. Reading a book faster or slower doesn’t mean anything.
If a book takes you a day to finish, a month to finish, or a year to finish, the end outcome is still the same—you still finish the book and walk away with a story that will live with you for a long time.
4. We set so many goals in our day-to-day. We don’t need more of that—especially with reading.
I believe that we need to take the emphasis off of “goals” when it comes to reading. We create goals in every other area of our lives—work, relationships, health and fitness, etc.—and you know what? 92% of people never achieve what they set out to do. It doesn’t feel great when you set a goal and don’t make it happen, and in a world filled with negative things, reading should only be a positive, uplifting experience.
5. Focusing too much on plowing through your TBR leaves little room to reread favorite tales.
If you’re too focused on how many new books are sitting in your TBR waiting to be read (if you’re anything like me, it’s a lot of books!) to up your yearly number, you’ll almost never return to books that made you feel whole and wonderful and seen. There’s beauty in revisiting a tale, picking up on things you didn’t catch the first time around, and seeing it from a different perspective. Don’t deny yourself that opportunity.
This was a long way of me saying this: Enjoy what you read and don’t be afraid to savor a beautiful story—everything else can wait.
Featured image by Kevon Nicholas