Reading Challenges: What Should and Shouldn’t Count

Happy holidays, everyone!

The time has come. Seasonal music blasts everywhere you go, everyone is making lists of goals for the new year, and you’ve been gifted (or used all your holiday money on) way too many books. But hey, that’s just how it is as the book lover of the family. Unfortunately, all this together means one more thing: the time to complete your Goodreads reading challenge is almost up!

Now that we’re down to less than two weeks, plenty of us are evaluating what books sit unread on our shelves and how many we need to blow through to reach the finish line. Some of us may even be reconsidering the number that we put as our goal and deciding whether or not to change it.

Before we get too comfortable with our end of the year reading plans, we need to remember the age-old debate of bookworms everywhere: What really counts toward your yearly reading goal?

Short answer: Whatever the hell you want to have count!

Long answer: Inevitably, this is up to you.

Some of us (like me) are students and are required to do quite a bit of reading for classes. Because of that, I include all the novels and short stories that I suffer through read for a grade. It’s nice to know they count somewhere even if I get a bad grade on the essays I write for them. But if you want to separate academic from personal reading, that’s up to you. This is your reading challenge.

It seems that someone somewhere is always arguing that audiobooks should never be counted toward reading goals because you’re “not putting the effort of reading in yourself.” Not only is this some ableist bullcrap, but people seem to forget that we read books for the story, the setting, the characters, the magic. Not to add to the number of words our eyes have scanned over while the giant rock we’re flying on takes a lap around the sun. But if you don’t want to add audiobooks to your final count for whatever reason, that’s up to you. This is your reading challenge.

Personally, I don’t add easy reading/picture books to my reading challenge. I’ve read my fair share of them over the year, but I do that for my brother who is nine years old. I find when he has someone to share the story with, he’s more likely to read, and the bilingual picture books help me teach him Spanish. So, ultimately, I don’t read these for myself, and I choose not to count them. But if you want to keep track of these and read more picture books in one year than you ever have, then, by all means, that’s up to you. This is your reading challenge!

I’ve had people tell me not to add anything below 20 pages to my Goodreads challenge, but why not? How is what I add to my challenge affecting anyone else’s challenge? It’s not. And to those who still disagree with me: In case you haven’t noticed, there is no prize for completing your reading challenge on Goodreads. There’s barely even a badge to paste on your blog, because we are not competing against each other. Essentially, we’re competing against ourselves.

Reading challenges, whether on Goodreads or otherwise, are meant to be fun! The point is to challenge yourself to read more of a certain genre or check off a to-be-read list or simply keep track of how much you read. So crack open that book with “too many pictures” you just got, or press play on the audiobook you just checked out, or power through that book need to finish for school. Read what you like, because you like it!

And the next time you want to tell someone that they’re doing their reading challenge wrong, take a long, deep breath and then don’t say anything. It’s that simple.

Good luck to everyone finishing their reading challenges these next couple weeks!

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