Reading For All The Wrong Reasons

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Like a lot of my fellow book bloggers, I’ve been hacking away at my physical tbr this year.  I’m not doing it in an attempt to get down to that mythical place, TBR ZERO, but rather to give those books I already own a chance against my reading wishlist.  On top of this, I’ve also started looking toward my end of year wrap up and the goals that I set myself for the year.  In thinking about my reading, and in a lot more depth than is strictly necessary, I hesitate to add, I’ve come to the conclusion that I am sometimes guilty of reading for the wrong reasons.

If you’re not enjoying it, put it down.

I’ve never had a problem DNFing books, but recently I’ve found myself “too far” into a book to warrant giving up.  But the thing is, even though I might have been engaged for the first hundred pages or so, I’ve been skimming along for a while now and wasting another hour or two skimming the rest of the book is going to leave me with – what?  A book I can add to Goodreads and say that I’ve read?  Sure.  But I don’t feel good about it.  I don’t even really feel like I’ve read it.  I couldn’t tell you what was going on for a decent chunk of the story, I wasn’t enjoying it, and every time I see it on my Goodreads “read” shelf, I remember what a waste of time it was for me to finish that book.  I’m kind of annoyed at myself, frankly.

As I said, it’s something that has happened at several points over the year and it wasn’t until I was slogging my way through Master And Commander last week that I suddenly questioned what I was doing.  I was enjoying perhaps only a quarter of what I was reading, alternating between eBook and audiobook – skimming through the former and barely paying any attention at all to the latter.  With over two hundred pages “read” and another two hundred pages to go, I put it down.  Perhaps I’ll pick it up again in the future, but I could hardly count it as ‘read’ even if I did finish it this year.

Diversity for diversity’s sake.

Part of my 2015 reading goals is a reading bingo card, and it’s been a fun way to cross off certain achievements.  One of these was to read 5 books not set in North America, the UK, or Australia.  I achieved this through reading 3 books set on Mars, and doing it this way does not feel like an achievement.  Another such “achievement” was to read one piece of translated literature.  I added this goal, and started small, because I can count the number of translated books that I’ve read in my lifetime on one hand.  This meant I had to go out of my way to find something to read in order to achieve this goal, which is fine, but I kind of copped out by selecting Stieg Larsson’s The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest.  I’m glad I read it – I really enjoyed it and I polished off a series – but I don’t feel like my reading became any more “diverse” by doing so.

Certainly I agree that we need to read, feature, and promote more diverse books, and on the internet is definitely the place to do it.  However, we might need to find a better way of doing it.  If the idea is to have diverse books sit comfortably and equally next to the rest of the books, singling them out in ‘challenges’ isn’t going to do it for me.

And if everyone else went and jumped off a cliff, would you follow?

I struggle with this one.  On the one hand, reading is meant to be fun.  Recommendations from friends are also fun, and you never know whether or not you’ll like something if you don’t give it a chance.  On the other hand, when I look back at the books that I’ve read in 2015, it doesn’t read like a list of books that I would have read.  In a negative way.  Not only do the books not feel like me, but the the stats for this year quantify it.  If I remove my re-reads, my average rating for the year goes from 3.8 down to 3.1, with only three 5 star reads out of 85 books and NINE ratings below 3 stars.

The booktubers and bloggers I find I admire most at the moment are those who know what they like and read exactly that, totally without apology.  (Mercedes, Jean, and Elizabeth, to name a few.)  I don’t know what’s happened to me this year but I’ve been pulling books that I’m only vaguely interested in based off of stellar ratings and recommendations, and sticking with books I’m not enjoying for far too long.  This has lead to reading slumps and not being as excited about reading as I have been in the past.  I used to read whatever the Hell I fancied, and I thought I still did, so perhaps it’s time I trusted my own bookish preferences again.

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One thought on “Reading For All The Wrong Reasons

  1. I think the Bingo cards can be a great idea if you’re trying to read different things, but there’s a point when you’re ticking off boxes just for the satisfaction of ticking off boxes. If the category doesn’t appeal to you, and not because you haven’t tried it or aren’t sure but because you know you don’t like xyz genre or xyz author, then I don’t think that’s worth the investment of your time.

    If I’m really not into a book, the DNF is easy. It’s when I’m medium, or I like some aspects but not others, that I have the most trouble. I’m reading The Lies of Locke Lamora right now and I like Locke but I don’t like the writing style. I’m not quite 150 pages in and I may have to try it again later.

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