Reading as a competition & how it affects us

Before I start this post I want to say HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY to all the amazing moms in the world. I want to dedicate this post to my beautiful grandmas, mamá Esther and mamá Carmen, my beautiful sister Zorangelie, my beautiful sister-in-law Marisol and my beautiful and amazing mom, María. I don’t know what I would do without them. Thank you for being amazing mothers and role models. I love you guys so much.

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From left to right: my mom, my sister and I

 

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My sister-in-law

 

 

Also shoutout to Jonathan from John’s Tainted Fantasy for being my second pair of eyes and being my beta reader. Please follow his blog. He’s new but has amazing content coming out soon. 

And I’m thinking of making Sundays my official posting day since is the day I usually post. So there’s that.

Okay, that is all. Let’s continue with the post.

Hey-o! I is back and today I’m going to be talking (writing?) about how reading has become a competition and how it affects you and I. This is based on a video from Ariel Bissett and I’m mostly paraphrasing. I don’t think WordPress lets you add youtube videos, so here’s the link. I am going to be agreeing with pretty much everything she said in the video. I had some thoughts I wanted to add but after rewatching the video I realize they’re pretty much the same as hers. I saw this video a while ago and I’ve been dying to write a post, but the video is 25 minutes long and I don’t have enough time during the week to watch it, take notes, decide what I want to say and then write it plus I keep coming out with other posts I want to make. Well, today after failing to study all day I decided that I was going to give up for the day and I was going to sit down and write this post. One of the reasons I decided to write this post is because this month is Mental Health Awareness month and to me, this competition is messing with my mental health and it could be messing with yours too. 

To not make this post too long, and because I want you to watch this video, I won’t give a whole summary. Please watch the video! So basically she talks about how Booktube, Goodreads, reading challenges, book blogs, etc have made reading competitive. It has made it a sport. We feel this constant pressure to compete, to prove we are good readers by trying to read a number of books. I totally agree with her. So, here are my thoughts based on hers.

It all starts with the community. One of her first comments is how reading a book used to be a solitary thing, you would just go to the library or the bookstore pick a book and then you would usually read it by yourself and maybe reread it. Now we have Booktube, book bloggers (that’s me!), Goodreads, and this big community where you find out about books, you start discussing them, talking about reading, what you like to read, what is your favorite book, and… how many books you have read this year. This for me was the start of it all. Suddenly you discover a booktuber or a blogger who on a “bad reading month” read 8 books and you’re like

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and slowly you start wondering what does this mean. Am I a bad reader? Should I be reading more? Then you go to Goodreads and you see some people reading challenge are over a hundred book and they’re on track, or worse they have completed it. So, you start thinking, is that how much I have to read? Should I read at least 50 books per year? Can I even say I read a lot? Can I even consider reading as my hobby? You start wondering what can you do to read more or read faster, you start researching, watching videos, and you fall on this reader existential crisis spiraling out of control that with time starts affecting your mental health. I mean, please tell me I’m not the only one. PLEASE!

So you set a goal, one that will probably be really challenging and that will start stressing you out. Then suddenly it is not about reading good books or enjoying the book, but of reading it as fast as you can to get that high, that only last a second, of knowing you’re a book closer to achieving that goal. You feel anxious if you haven’t read at least 8 books a month, you feel worse if you have only read one, and you start missing real-life experiences because you feel like you can only read. You start feeling like to be a reader reading feel should be the only thing you do on your free time, and if you don’t have free time you start jamming it so you can get it done. It might be by sleeping less—sleep is necessary is not the same staying up all night because you can’t stop reading a good book than sleeping less because you have a reading goal,—maybe you spend less time studying or spending time with your family or dedicating less time to other things you enjoy. It starts consuming your mind. 

I am basically describing my life right now. My blog is something I love, but it makes me feel like crap. Why? Because I don’t feel like I’m a good book blogger because I don’t read enough books and because I don’t read relevant books. That’s another point with this community we start feeling like we have to read these specific books so we can stay relevant. I don’t give books full-on reviews because I feel that I don’t read relevant books or when I  do read them they aren’t in anymore. It was the same thing when I had a booktube channel. I knew I wasn’t going to get many views because my reviews were of books that were no longer in or weren’t popular in general. Now, this consumes me and stops me from writing reviews. Why? Why are we making it a competition? I mean you don’t have to be a blogger to feel this way. If you want to keep up with what’s everyone is reading, you want to have discussion with other readers, and want to feel included you have to read books you might not normally read, you might have to buy a huge amount of books, and try to read them as fast as possible so you can be in sync with the rest. Is that even possible? We are stressing ourselves trying to stay in this competition that we didn’t even know we created.

Going back to books, can we talk about Goodreads reading challenge? I mean I adore it, but man does it stresses me out. It makes me anxious. Want to know what’s the worst part? I love it, but sometimes it makes me feel worthless like I am a bad reader. I sometimes feel like I shouldn’t say reading is my hobby because I feel like I barely read, and it’s true! Not the worthless part or that I shouldn’t call it a hobby, but the part where I barely read. This semester has been tough for me and I can’t seem to find the time to read. If I take time to read I feel like I’m wasting time that I could be using to study, but then if I don’t read I feel like I shouldn’t call myself a reader. There are times when I don’t read for days because all I do is study, go to class, shower, eat and sleep. It should be okay for me not to read. It should be okay for you not to read. I know that, but instead, I find myself calculating how many books I have to read a month to reach my Goodreads reading challenge. I find myself doing schedules like I should finish this book for this day, and this one for that day, so I can read at least 4 books a month. FOUR BOOKS! Then I read a wrap-up and feel shame because maybe I read 4 books, but it isn’t enough because other readers on a bad month read 8 books.

THAT FREAKING CHALLENGE! Man, I love it, but man I hate it. I like giving myself the challenge to make myself read because I love reading, but sometimes it feels like a chore. A CHORE!! Reading should be about unwinding and enjoying a good book not about reaching a goal. The worst part is I don’t care, I continue telling myself to do it and I enjoy that high of marking a book as read and seeing that number grow. I won’t be like her (the booktuber who made that video) and only put it to one because I love it even though it makes me anxious and stressed. I want to force myself to put it at 24 books, two per month, and 5 audiobooks. (it should be 29, but since Goodreads marked some books as twice read I upped the number to 32) Maybe that way I’ll force myself to relax. If you feel this way take a moment to repeat with me “it’s not about the number, but my enjoyment,” repeat it as many times as you can until you start believing it,  I will, and whenever you feel like you’re not reading enough repeat it again. 

We need to change the mentality that we need to read to reach a goal to a mentality of reading as a goal.

We should stop feeling bad if we barely read this month or this year (or any) because we couldn’t or simply didn’t want to. Sometimes after I’m done studying I don’t want to read I just want to lay in bed and contemplate life, so I do, but at that moment I keep telling myself, and my roommate, that I should be reading as if it was a chore. This has affected me to the point where I was like “well this summer I won’t be working or taking classes so I should try to read at least 16 books and that means I have to read about this many pages a day. I should finish a book in this amount of time. I should do these many reading marathons. I should really just focus on reading.” I’m basically telling myself I can only read. It’s like how last year I spent new years eve reading. We had a party going on, but I needed to read, I needed to read as many books as I could before the clock would hit 12, I needed to read one more book so I could say that I read more than 30 books and even when I reached 38 I still felt bad because I should’ve read at least 50. My point is that I ignored my family, I ignored the party, and I just focused so much on trying to read as many books as I could that I let life pass me by. 

Reading has changed for me to a competition and I don’t like it. It might sound silly but it is affecting my mental health. I get stressed, I get anxious, and I feel less because of it. I know I am not the only one. If you feel this way then now you know you’re not the only one. Reading might have turned into a competition, but it doesn’t mean we have to play in it. Think about this way if reading was a competition we’re trying to play big leagues and in that, we are turning it into a job, but we should try and remember how it felt to play for fun. Once you remember that you will realize that you want to go back to that. I know I do. 

Well, I hope you can relate, actually no because this is terrible, but I hope that if you feel this way you’ll feel better knowing it’s not all in your head. Remember to practice our chant “it’s not about the number, but my enjoyment.” Now that you’ll go back into reading for fun I can say

HAPPY READINGS! 

 

6 thoughts on “Reading as a competition & how it affects us

  1. Thank you for this!

    Like I told you before, I so agree with this post! Reading used to be fun and my favorite past time, but now we have all these bookbloggers and vloggers who make it sound like aren’t reading enough and I’ve had it! I love those who keep it simple, like “Hey I read like 2 books this month and that’s ok! And if you’ve read only 1 then that’s ok too”, we need more of those and less of the other ones.

    Anywho- Thanks for the shout out Wil ❤

    Catch you on the flipside!
    -J

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Exactly! It is not a competition and we should accept that. I’m going to continue reading as much as I can and try not to care about the number.

      Liked by 1 person

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