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!