In the last month, I both finished my goodreads challenge and read an article on ‘the adults who treat reading as homework‘, which was interesting timing. Having deliberately set my challenge goal at the lowest I ever have this year (because I wasn’t sure how much time I’d have for reading whilst doing the PGCE) I now find myself unexpectedly finished and re-assessing where to move the goalposts to.
I absolutely love tracking my reading, taking part in reading challenges and joining in with readathons, and clearly I’m not alone – more than 3 million people have set a goodreads challenge. The article however has me questioning my motivations a little; as the author points out “reading seems to inspire this gamification, homework-ification, and quantification to a unique degree”. That’s certainly true in my life, as I just don’t have the same level of tracking obsession with my other media habits and I’ve never really given it any thought but it’s a bit weird when I think about it, since I’m a bit of a completionist!
At the moment, because I’m only tracking reading, I have to admit that I do sometimes choose reading over other hobbies because it feels more ‘productive’. For instance, I pretty much listen to audiobooks exclusively on my commute – I know that those 2 hours in the car count towards my reading challenge, whereas if I’m listening to a podcast or music, even though I’d enjoy that, it feels like ‘wasted time’. Similarly, even though I could play a video game at the weekend, I’ll often choose to read instead, and while I do love reading more, I finished 130 books last year but not a single game…. do I love reading that much more, or am I subconsciously choosing working towards my goodreads challenge over playing a game? On the other hand, reading isn’t only something I love and something that counts towards my goodreads challenge, it also contributes towards being social on Twitter, joining in with readathons, and generating reviews and posts for the blog, so there are a lot of reasons to pick up a book compared to purely selfish motivations to pick up a game!
Underlying everything is the fact that I’m just not very good at switching off: I often feel like I should be doing something useful and am pretty much always multitasking, whether that’s listening to an audiobook while driving, blogging while watching TV or thinking about lesson plans while I’m in the shower. Reading a physical or ebook is one time where I can’t multitask, and I get lost enough in what I’m doing that I don’t feel like I should be doing something else at the same time!
BUT I keep saying I want to diversify my interests more – my husband and I just read the same book within a week or so of each other and I absolutely loved sharing that. I know he’d feel the same way if I played a game he loved, and I really enjoyed watching the E3 conference: I love the idea of playing games, I’m just not very good at convincing myself to actually do it! Partially for all the reasons above, and partially because I haven’t put the time in to stop being useless and that frustrates me…but of course the only way around that is to actually start. I’ve started trying to find a Goodreads for video games, in an attempt to take some of the ‘wasted time’ feeling out of it, and you’ll probably start seeing more game related posts if I success!
I’m probably on track for about 109/110 books by the end of the year if my current reading pace keeps up, and hopefully I’ll be able to read more over the summer, but I’m not going to increase my goal too much. I’m going to set it to 78 instead (1.5 books a week). If I hit it again then I can re-increase it, but for now I’m trying to encourage myself to not feel guilty about choosing a hobby other than reading sometimes. I’m officially giving myself permission to take time out to go to the cinema, play The Sims, bake a cake, listen to music in the car and hang out with family and friends!