lunes, 19 de enero de 2015
In defense of the Goodreads Reading Challenge
So the Goodreads Reading Challenge has been getting a bad reputation lately. For those of you who don't know what on Earth that is: you pledge to read a number of book this year and Goodreads keeps track of your progress. Easy peasy. But we've doing this for ages with spreadsheets or good ol' paper! you cry. We even had to update a reading log in primary school! How is this innovative and/or worth of so many think pieces?
Good question. Goodreads is not doing anything new here. It was intended as a motivational tool to encourage members of the bookish community to read more - it inspires you to read more when you are in the dreaded Reading Slump (I always picture it like that swamp where Atreyu's horse got stuck), and cheers you if you read more than you thought you would. Detractors are right in that reading is not about quantity, but quality - how much you engage with the book, the fun you have reading, or the new thoughts derived from the experience. It really doesn't matter if you read a book or a hundred, as long as you get something out of the book. We all know that at heart, else we wouldn't be readers in the first place.
What's the problem then? Well, your challenge page also shows your friends' challenges and their progress. Apparently, this turns type-A readers into monsters who thrive on schadenfreude, or something. I'd never use this feature to compete with my friends - since reading is not a competition in any way, except maybe with myself. I like to cheer on them and see the awesome books they are reading (and selfishly get recs). In my humble opinion, the use you make of the features Goodreads offers depends solely on you, on how you think about literature and life at large. If you envision reading as a competition or as an activity to make you look smart, then let's just say the challenge is not for you, but the smear is un-called for. Don't get me wrong here: if you don't want to put any kind of pressure on yourself, or don't want to attach any meaning the number of books you've read, that's perfectly okay. But don't think less of those who do.
I've always been a slow reader, and get distracted by shiny new things every minute. On top of that, I've recently undertaken a job where intense brain activity is expected. When I get home, I tend to favour easy and fast-rewarding activities - like Tumblr, Discovery Channel, or Fast Heroes Saga. It is often daunting to pick up a book, but after I've read for a while, I feel I have employed my time better. I've truly gotten my mind away from work and had lots of fun while at it. I'm not gonna lie - the Goodreads Reading Challenge has had a great part on my reading success. I needed motivation, and the challenge was akin to a personal trainer. It made me read more, and it made me read better. And I bet that's the case for thousands of readers.