TSS: Looking back at the year that was 2008

A question I keep asking myself as I continue with this blog is “What am I reading for?” or for those of you concerned with grammar: “For what purpose am I reading?”

Am I reading to read as many books as I can, say 100 books or to fulfill this or that challenge?

Like my book giveaway, which is still in holding, I got a little carried away with challenges and signed up for nine challenges, which to some might not be that many, but for someone like me who’s never entered challenges like this previously, it was.

Out of the nine, I have failed five challenges:

  1. Southern Reading Challenge 2008
  2. Classics Challenge 2008
  3. 100 Books Challenge
  4. Orbis Terrarum Challenge
  5. Herding Cats Challenge

Ones still in play are:

  1. 1 percent Well Read Challenge
  2. Book Awards II Challenge
  3. Lit Flicks Challenge
  4. Pulitzer Project, which most likely will be in play for the rest of my life.

So what I’ve decided after all this is that the reason I’m reading is not for challenges. It’s not to put another notch in my belt.

What is it then? If you look at what I’ve read this past year, you’ll see that I’ve read a wide variety of books, from mystery to non-fiction to science fiction to classics to graphic novels to young adult novels. I like to think it’s quality over quantity, but that’s not always the case. It is for what I aim.

Not everything I read is didactic, so it’s not that I’m trying to learn a life lesson. However, in a way it is, that by reading a variety of books, I am being exposed to a broad range of experiences. This year, I’ve read books written by authors, both male and female, black and white, from all over the world and books written for a variety of age groups. I suppose that is a good part of it: to be exposed to a broad range of experiences and hopefully to widen my own narrow experience.

This coming year, I think that is on which I am going to focus: to continue to broaden my reading across all kinds of barriers. I will leave the challenges I have “in play” in play, but if I don’t complete them, I’m not going to beat myself up. It’s all been a part of the journey regardless and even though some of the reading challenges are finished, my reading journey isn’t.

It’s just beginning.

15 responses to “TSS: Looking back at the year that was 2008

  1. We enjoyed your participation in the SRC! Gods in Alabama, huh? Right book for the challenge but wrong time. 😛

    I sign up and forget what I signed up for! I joined the Short Story Challenge and have read a bunch (I’m in Eudora Welty land right now) but put anything on the blog? No! I’m a complete failure, but it doesn’t bother me. Only, that I miss talking books with peeps who happen to be reading the same thing like our Black Boy within weeks of one another occurence.

    Happy New Year, bud! 😀

  2. I understand how you feel. Sometimes it does seems that I’m reading for a challenge instead of for myself. Next year I joined a lot of challenges but all have to do with expanding to genres and subject areas I don’t normally read.

    Happy Holidays!

  3. I wish you the best in this holiday season, full of joy and memories, and a healthy, bookish new year! Merry Christmas! 🙂

  4. Cheers to that! I love reading for the sake of reading, and because a book suddenly takes my interest, not because it is on a list. So I’m with you. I haven’t looked at all the challenges yet I’ve signed up for, but will have a look some time in the next few weeks. I’ve probably failed them all! But I’ve enjoyed reading some of the ones on the various lists. Isn’t that what it’s all about? And the enjoyment of sharing that excitement about books? Happy christmas to you!

  5. I don’t do challenges, period. I don’t feel that I need an incentive to read, and since it’s just part of what I do (like breathing), I’ve never really set goals for it either.

    I am somewhat unsettled by the fact that blogging – including book-blogging, ironically enough – has cut into my reading time and I’d like to try to correct for that next year. Otherwise, no reading-related goals or challenges for me! (Then again, I’m not much for New Year’s resolutions either.)

  6. I’ve been working on my “book blogging resolutions for 2009” post for a while now, and your post sounds mighty familiar. I think you and I read for much of the same reasons – to broaden our horizons, to learn things, and sometimes simply for the pure joy of it.

  7. I am currently only taking part in 2 challenges (1% well read and book awards II). I am on track to finish both on time. I am currently trying to decide on my own person reading goals for 2009.

  8. unfinishedperson

    Juliann: “We read to know we are not alone,” C.S. Lewis. I like that quote you have on your page. Maybe that’s why we read, at least in part.

    Ruth: Statistics are okay, I guess, if taken along with broadening your horizons.

    Ali: You will.

    Guatami: All what I said aside, it’s good for a “girl” to have goals. 😉

    Debbie: Oh, don’t tempt me. “Get behind me, Satan.” 😉

    Bermudaonion: Nothing wrong with taking it slow. What are we in such a rush for anyway?

    Lezlie: Yes. Exactly. Somewhere I read it’s not about “finishing,” but learning from the journey there. I think that I still learned from my journey through reading this year. To be honest, for many years, I’ve lain dormant in front of the TV. Now at least I’m awake.

  9. I wouldn’t consider challenges that you didn’t finish a “fail”. Not at all! What you did read, you either enjoyed, or you learned that that kind of book was not for you. Both ways are a win! The important thing to us as readers is to keep reading, learning and enjoying, plan or no plan. 🙂

    Merry Christmas!

  10. My record with challenges is not very good either, so I haven’t signed up for any in 2009 yet. I’m going to take it slow, at least at the beginning.

  11. I like to create my own challenges. Last year, I decided that I wanted to read all the Newbery books (82). Some of them I wanted desperately to give up on, but I stuck with them because of the challenge. I’m glad I did. I feel I know the Newbery books, good and bad, now.

    I created (for myself) a lot of perpetual challenges last year also. They all center on reading award-winning books. I can read as many of these or as few as I want.

  12. I hardly did any challenge. I gave up almost all of those.

    I am only doing the Canadian Challenge seriously.

    Also I plan to go for the WWII and Jewish reading challenge as I want to read about these as much as I can.

    I will also read six or more books from Dewey’s review blog.


  13. I totally failed the one (one!) challenge I took on this year, but I’m going to sign up for more anyway. If I don’t succeed, I’m ok with that. I even decided to host one this year–with the goal of broadening horizons, in fact–so let’s hope I at least succeed with that one!

  14. I believe I only took part in two challenges this year. My goal of 100 books was a personal challenge that I had years before I started blogging. (The first time I did that was in fifth grade, and I think my teacher’s jaw is still on the floor somewhere.)

    I hate the feeling of being tied down into reading something that I’m not enjoying, so I’m very picky about challenges. Other than a goal of 100 books, the Victorian challenge (my favorite time period), and probably the RIP challenge, I doubt I’ll be taking part in many challenges. I think you hit the nail on the head that reading should be more about broadening your horizons than trying to shoot for statistics.

  15. I have been asking the same questions and think it is time for a personal challenge. Best of luck with your reading goals for the new year.