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The Challenge of Challenges

I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.

That comment by Douglas Adams (the author of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy) sums up my experience with book reading challenges so far.

I like the idea of many of the challenges dreamed up by various bloggers, get enthusiastic about signing up for them and love the buzz of talking to people about them. But actually doing them; well that’s another story.  Do you ever have that feeling of running in race but each time you can see the finishing line, someone moves it? That’s how I felt so many times in 2013.

Of course, it was my own fault for taking on more projects than I really have the capacity for given that I do work full time. But more of an issue I’ve come to realise, is that having multiple challenges doesn’t actually add to the enjoyment of reading for me —in fact it takes the fun out of reading. I know that’s not the case for many other bloggers, some of them seem to thrive on challenges; the more the merrier. But for me, the more challenges I took on the more I began to feel I was reading to order instead of reading as my mood took me.

Rather than just being able to pick up a book because I thought it suited my mood at the time, I choose my next read based purely on the fact it was on the list for such and such a challenge and I really need to make more progress there. So reading became more and more of a guilt trip than an enjoyable experience.

And now we are at the time of the year where bloggers everywhere are starting up their 2014 challenges and sharing reading goals for the year ahead. Hardly a day goes by that I don’t get a newsfeed alert a new challenge. And some of them are so tempting especially the ones that focus on reading novels from different parts of the world.

But after much pontification, deliberation and debate I’ve decided that 2014 will be a year free of challenges. Free of goals. Free of reading resolutions.  I know I’ll still be reading classics, I’ll still be reading Booker winners and I’ll still be reading world literature. But I’ll be doing them without the pressure of any deadlines or goals. I’m simply going to read what I want and when I want. And if that involves digressions and diversions, that will be just fine with me.

Anyone else suffering this feeling of challenge fatigue? If so, I’d love to hear how you’re planning to deal with this situation.

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