There are tons of reading challenges on the internet right now, complete with hashtags, barometers, countdowns, and everything else you can think of for the journey. Pop Sugar, Bustle, and Goodreads all have fantastic reading challenge options, but I went with the crazy one: 52 Books, 52 Weeks.
I really thought I could do it. Even with the pace of two books a week for a year, I knew I was capable of it if I put my mind to it. I love books (obviously), I read fast, and I thought it would be good for my writing.
I didn’t just not complete this challenge, but I fell off the grid pretty hard. I maybe finished about half the books that I needed to for the challenge. While the year isn’t over yet, it’s pretty clear I’m not going to make it. It’s a disappointment, but a disappointment that had a lot of lessons to give. Here are five things that I learned from my botched attempt with the 52 Books, 52 Weeks Challenge.
1. It Isn’t For The Faint Of Heart
It sounds like something obvious, but this challenge doesn’t mess around. It isn’t like NaNoWriMo, where, while it’s a daunting challenge in its own right, it’s done in a month. This is a year-long commitment, and 2016 has definitely taught me that anything can happen. Between health issues and the news, they are plenty of things that can stand between you and your precious pages. The goal is to realize they’re obstacles, not excuses. It was a hard lesson, but one I needed to learn. I’m not the only one who has life problems, and plenty of people have made this challenge work.
2. That Being Said, Be Proud Anyway
I seriously doubt I would have gone this year without reading anything, but there are a lot of books that I found on accident because the challenge lurked in the back of my mind. I was a lot more liberal in my shopping for new books, and I found myself in a bookstore a lot more often. (Work not withstanding, of course.) If a book interested me at all, I grabbed it off the shelf, instead of the usual “Should I, should I not?” debate. I opened a lot of doors this year with this challenge, and I’ll always be proud of myself for that.
3. Reading This Much Tells You A LOT About Yourself
It pains me to admit this, but looking back, this challenge was lost at around March for me. At the time, I had been in a part of my life that was basically at a standstill. I was working a job that I didn’t like, and I wasn’t sure where my life was headed. The funny thing about reading is that it will always, unfailingly, pull you forward, whether you want to go with it or not. For someone who was so stuck, this actually got to be quite painful.
What it did, though, is helped me realize that I needed control over my own life again. After a career change and some inner self-reflection, I’m in a much happier place. What’s amazing – and flabbergasting – is that I ended up surrounded by books, quite literally: I work in a bookstore, and I write about books for a living now.
4. It Will Reorganize Your Life
Reading is a leisure activity, and even for someone who loves books, it’s hard to feel competitive about it, especially when you have a set way of reading already. Forcing more words into my life via a challenge woke up my competitive nature. I found myself asking “Okay, how many pages can I fit on my lunch break?” or “What do I need to do when I get home, so I can start reading?” It takes out a lot of idling and procrastinating (two things I’m so guilty of), and makes the day-to-day grind much more compact and streamlined.
5. There Are New Genres I Want To Read!
As a student, I snubbed my nose at non-fiction and found it boring. I like to think I know better after graduating a while ago, but my first stop in a bookstore always tends to be fiction – fantasy and crime fiction, more specifically – and while I did read plenty of those, I ended up reading biographies and memoirs. I was shocked by how much I enjoyed them! I thought this challenge would be all about reading my own niche of novels, but I ended up branching out a lot more than I thought I would. It was definitely a pleasant surprise.
Will you take on your own reading challenge? I can’t wait for next year!
YouTube Channel: Kizzie Reads
Featured image via Bookstore Crawl