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thumbnail Reading Challenges - Yeah or Nay

by Sharon Nagel on February 5, 2024
Tags: adult (3), Winter (2)

       I like to keep track of what I read on an app mainly because I have reached an age where I can't always remember what I read. This is especially true when a patron or a friend asks me what I have read recently. Then, my mind goes completely blank. 

      When I first began keeping track of my reading, I used Goodreads. It was easy to use, everyone else I knew was using it, and you could see what your friends were reading. However, when Goodreads was purchased by Amazon, I became less enamored with the app. I didn't want Amazon to know what I was reading or see my ratings of certain books. At the time I was a bookseller, and I wrote book reviews for my independent bookstore, not for Amazon. For those of you who don’t want to leave Goodreads because you are afraid of losing years of your reading history, most other websites allow users to export their reading history from Goodreads and import it their site. In this way, nothing is lost.

      I tried Library Thing, which I don't really like for tracking what I'm reading, but which I have recently discovered is ideal for cataloguing one's books. I scanned all of the books in my house, which are many, and now I know what books I own, so that I don't accidentally buy a second copy. For example, I own 2 copies of Larry Watson's Montana 1948. I knew I had a copy somewhere in my house, but I couldn't find it in time for an event where I saw Larry. So I ended up buying a second copy so I could get it signed. 

      Recently, I switched to StoryGraph to track my reading. I can keep track of what I am reading, how long it takes, and how many books I have read in a given year. I have done reading challenges for the past few years. These are almost as ubiquitous in January as new diets and exercise regimes. I set a numerical goal for myself. Last year and this year, it was 75 books. Last year, I read 84 books. Not too bad. I read more when I was a bookseller, but now I have two part-time jobs, so that takes up some reading time.

       I have seen all kinds of reading challenges on social media. They range from just keeping track of the number of books one reads to more complicated challenges like reading books in translation or books by authors from a particular country.  I learned from experience that setting too high a goal for a book challenge can lead to stress. I was feeling pressured to meet my objective, and I didn't even realize it until I decided to lower my goal, and I felt instantly relieved.

     The Whitefish Bay Library’s Winter Reading Program runs from January 15 through February 29. Here is a link for more information. The snow and freezing temperatures are an excellent reason to stay inside and read.