How I Blew My 2018 Reading Challenge and Why I’m Okay With It

It’s only the beginning of December and websites and blogs are already posting their reading challenges for 2019. This has made me think about the bookish goal I set for myself this year: No New Books for a Year – The Back To My Bookshelves Challenge.

As the name of the challenge so subtly suggests, I wasn’t supposed to buy any new books this year. I was going to read solely from my personal library, but I’ll come right out and say it…I completely failed!

I did really well for the first half of the year. The only newly published books I read were purchased using gift cards or borrowed from the library (these were allowed within my challenge). But when David Sedaris released Calypso at the the end of May, I didn’t have any gift cards left, the library wasn’t going to have the book for a while, and I just HAD to read it ASAP.

I drove to the bookstore, made the illicit purchase, and gosh darn it, it was worth it! I loved Calypso and as a result, the book-buying floodgates were opened. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, reading is supposed to be fun and provide joy. If I’d followed my rules, I wouldn’t have been able to trust my “reading gut” and pick up a book that was calling to me.

The experience of failing my no-new-books challenge has taught me that placing restrictions on my reading doesn’t serve my bookish needs. Buying Calypso and devouring it in a couple days was incredibly satisfying and isn’t satisfaction what we’re all looking for in our reading lives?

I recognize how incredibly privileged I am to be in a situation where I can buy a book if I want it, and I’m not condoning going out on regular shopping sprees for new books. Moderation is a good thing, even when it comes to buying books (hard to believe, I know! 🙂 ) I’ve bought a few more new titles since my Sedaris purchase, but most of what I’ve read this year has still been from my shelves and from the library.

My main message here is that (for me) reading challenges should widen horizons and allow for spontaneity instead of being rule-based and restrictive. So, I am totally fine with the fact that I fell short on my reading goal for 2018. January is right around the corner and I plan on challenging myself in new and fun ways. Stay tuned to see what I come up with!

How did you do on your reading challenges and goals in 2018? Please share in the comments below!

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