I started this post immediately after having an afternoon-long email conversation with Estelle, who is now my un-official book therapist. I’m not talking book therapy as in “I’ve had a long day and reading is my therapy to help me unwind”. I mean actual, “take a look and what you’ve been reading and how you’ve been reading so far and how it’s affecting your life”.
2014 was supposed to be my year of less stress. I vowed to make less commitments. I vowed to stay ahead of my ARC schedule to alleviate the stress of all the things I needed to catch up on. And really so far, I’ve been doing a good job of that. But while talking with Estelle, we realized something. While I’ve been enjoying the books I’m reading and I really have stuck to my resolutions, I’ve still been scrambling to keep up with my Goodreads goal and stay on track to hit 135 books this year so I could at least hit the same goal I reached last year. And therein lies my problem.
I don’t mind trying to keep up with ARCs and I’m enjoying the groups and commitments that I have been a part of so far this year… But the sheer number of books I’ve committed to read in 2014 is already daunting and causing me stress. Reading is a passion. Blogging is a hobby. And as much as I want to read quickly and keep up with my own books and new books and books that everyone else is reading, that sheer quantity alone is not possible for me right now.
I’m planning a wedding this year. It’s actually coming up pretty quickly (November 8th!) and at first, I honestly didn’t think it would take up that much time. A lot of the plans are things I can easily accomplish, right? Well, sure. But there’s also going to halls. Going to chapels. Researching. Getting together with the friends I ask to be bridesmaids. Meeting with my family. Going to open houses. I suppose it’s not a LOT of time being taken up, but it still is quite a bit of outside activity that I normally reserved for reading and blogging. The things we end up doing on the weekends for the wedding — besides the projects on our house and our normal chores like grocery shopping and laundry — end up using the time that I normally had set aside for bookish things. The more Estelle and I talked, the more I realized that I just don’t have the amount of time I used to before I owned a house, before I got engaged, before I was planning a wedding and staining a bookcase and finishing a basement. I just don’t have the time that I used to and you know what? That’s okay.
Being a book blogger usually means that we read a reasonably larger number of books each year than the average person. We have blogs to keep up with, a whole INDUSTRY to keep up with, our friends to keep up with and even just our own personal goals, and my personal goals just aren’t reasonable at the present time. It’s the third week of February and I’m already stressed out about staying on top of my 135 book goal. I have enough things to worry about this year that I can’t afford to stress myself out over my hobby and something that I do for fun and to relax. After thinking long and hard about it, I asked a couple important questions:
What means more to me? Stressing all year to meet my 135 book goal or taking it easy and not reading as much as I did last year? Why do I need to beat my goal from last year? Why do I need to compete with myself? Isn’t the point of a goal to make myself happy that I read that much? And if I’m stressed out over meeting my own goal, what does that accomplish for me?
So after Estelle and I had this conversation, she suggested and I actually had the same thought forming in my head… I should lower my goal. A goal of 135 books beats my reading accomplishments from last year by five books, but it’s already been stressful trying to keep up! I’ve already lowered my goal by just five books to 130 for the year and I already feel a weight off of my shoulders. I’m currently on track to be either one or two books ahead if I keep up with my current reading schedule and it already feels SO much nicer to be ahead (possibly all year?) and feel happy about being ahead instead of stressing about being behind on a self-imposed goal. I kept thinking it was the stress of trying to balance ARCs and my own books and my commitments but what I was overlooking was how MANY books I was trying to read in a given week or month or year.
A book blogger is not successful based on how many books they read in a given year. Haven’t we always known it’s about quality and not quantity? I’ve also already proven that to myself in a different way in that I’m way behind on reviews right now. I used to be the person who wrote and drafted reviews right after I finished a book (which would be nice to still be able to do, but again. The time.) and as of right now, I’m probably about five or six books behind… And that’s because my book blog isn’t all about reviews. I love having a mix of discussions and reviews and features and interviews and events. Reviews are important to me and really the whole reason I started my blog, but I also don’t want to feel stressed and pressured to write them either. Anyway, the point is, I’m taking a small step backwards to take a little bit of reading pressure off myself and just enjoy being a book reviewer, a book blogger, and an avid reader! I tend to get a little bit overzealous sometimes but that’s only because I love reading and blogging so much that I just want to be able to outdo myself and really put forth that extra effort so everyone can see and feel the enthusiasm that I do when they read my blog.