How Focusing on Numbers Almost Ruined Reading for Me

I set a goal to read 250 books in 2021, but I ended up resenting the books I was reading.

Earlier this month I stopped using Goodreads for anything other than researching books.

This year has been hard on my reading habit. While my love of reading has never faded, I found myself no longer looking forward to reading certain books. I started reading more slowly, and the thought of reviewing and blogging started to feel like a chore.

It was my fault that this happened, and earlier this month that fact finally dawned on me.

I’m not usually a competitive person, but I am when it comes to reading. I love the thought of reading 150+ books a year. I know it’s a pointless number and I’m not competing with anyone except myself, but I got a thrill each time I upped the number of books read on Goodreads.

I realized that I was reading shorter books just to hit my goal, not because I actually wanted to read them. In fact, when I asked myself if I would read a certain book if I wasn’t counting it towards my goal, I realized that the answer was usually a solid “no.”

Due to my obsession with reading an obscene amount of books per year, I’ve also been avoiding reading things that are either hard to count or that I’m not able to count towards my Goodreads goal.

I collect issues of National Geographic and have since I was a teenager. When I was younger and my family couldn’t afford to travel, I traveled through the glossy pages of each month’s National Geographic. We couldn’t afford internet or cable growing up, so these magazines were a wonderful escape for me.

I haven’t read a single issue of National Geographic in almost two years, however, because it would slow down my reading progress to hit my reading goal. Does that sound like a dumb reason? Because it 100% is.

When I realized that I was no longer enjoying reading because I had effectively gamified it, I knew there was a simple solution. I stopped counting my reading through Goodreads, and I got rid of my yearly goal for the number of books read.

Since I’ve done that, I’ve rediscovered my love of books and am eager to get back to reviewing the books I’ve read. I no longer find myself picking up books that are short but that I have zero interest in actually reading. I’m now only reading books that interest me.

While this realization wasn’t the only reason I’ve stopped spending so much time on Goodreads, it is the primary reason. There will be a future post explaining all the issues I find with Goodreads overall.

I’ve learned a lot about my habits this year, such as that Twitter is detrimental to my mental health and that having a reading goal to meet each year prompts me to enjoy reading less. I think it’s important to regularly question things that are causing you to be unhappy, and set about fixing them. In my case, it was easy, and I’m so thankful that I took steps to cut negative influences out of my life.

How does having a numerical reading goal influence your reading habits? Let’s talk about it down in the comments!

Why You Should Embrace DNF-ing Books

nicole-wolf-1298738-unsplash.jpg

I understand the desire to finish every book you start. I was one of those people for so long. I felt a sense of failure when I put down a book without finishing it, even when I disliked every moment of reading it. Sometimes, too, I would start reading a book that everybody else seemed to love, and I would push myself through it, trying to give it the benefit of the doubt, even when it was absolutely clear that it wasn’t a book for me.

My reading life became so much better and stress-free when I started DNF-ing books. I stopped holding myself to the unrealistic standard of finishing every book I started -because it is unrealistic. There are so many reasons a book might not be right for you, from writing style, to disliking the main character, or just simply not being in the mood for it.

When you add a book to your did-not-finish pile, it doesn’t always mean it’s a bad book. A lot of the time when I DNF a book, it’s for two reasons: first, I’m not meshing with the style or story; second, I’m not in the mood for it right now, although I might come back to it later.

There are millions of books to read. Here’s a hard truth: you will never finish all the books you want to read. It pains me to say such a thing, but we all know it’s true. Due to that fact, though, you should embrace the option to stop reading a book that isn’t bringing you some sort of pleasure.

Signs That You Should DNF Your Book

  • Anytime you sit down to read it, you’re already daydreaming or planning your next book to read.
  • You love to read, but every time you think about reading this particular book, you find you’d rather watch TV or play video games. You’re basically avoiding the story.
  • You can’t focus on the book. You’ve read the same page five times and still forget what you’re reading about.
  • You chose a mystery novel, but you’re really in the mood for fantasy.

There are many reasons you might DNF a book, but don’t feel shame over it! Embrace it! Life is short, so why not make time for the books that actually matter to you?


What is your opinion on DNF-ing books? What was the last book you stopped reading?