Discussion: Race to the Finish?

Now four books behind on my reading challenge for 2014, rather than spending hours baking or nights writing, I should be making my way through the pile of books sitting in the corner of my room instead. For each time I visit Goodreads, there is a reminder, telling me that I'm yet to reach even the halfway stage. I can't help but feel slightly stressed. Should I be reading faster? Reading more than I already do? Should I even be a book blogger if I can't keep up with others? Many are finishing books in a day, whilst it takes me a week to read a single one, some managing to read multiple novels with a few hours spare. So, I try to keep up; rushing through chapters until I reach the end. The result? I love that book a little less than I should have, resulting in a low-star rating at the bottom of a review(which, admittedly, are must easier to write when the book was enjoyable).

There is a very long list of blogs I read, and on most,  I always seem to come across phrases such as "This shouldn't take me long to read". Most commonly found lingering in book hauls, it seems to scream that the reader's main goal is to finish the book; being able to place it back into the empty space on the shelf, and quickly. Not to learn lessons, or discover new worlds; not to reach for a box of tissues or have to stifle laughter in a public place like Starbucks. To add another novel to a reading challenge total, and witnessing the percentage books-read being increased. It's a race to the finish. There's no time to develop a relationship with the characters, or understand - and appreciate - the complexity of worlds. Those things the majority of us love about reading are lost as we try to impress others, and sometimes, ourselves.
I struggle to finish hundreds of books for one reason: I'm a slow reader, regardless of how many times I have refused to accept it.  I like to savour every word, re-read paragraphs, memorise my favourite quotes, learn about the world(especially when reading books like A Game of Thrones). I love spending time thinking about what will happen next, and making my own predictions; this being part of my reading experience. Making a cup of tea is also key. When hurtling through chapters, barely understanding what is being read, I miss important information, and it only results in a re-read later on. When I'm reading because I have to, not by choice, it becomes a chore. Amidst exams and revision, reading provides an escape and enjoyment, but rushing seems to steal that. Why buy books with the intent of finishing them within a day, just to reach a reading challenge? If it's your hobby, why rush?

Feeling stressed when reading, like you're losing a race, can ruin a book. Slowly, reading has become competitive, like each novel can only have your attention for a set amount of time before moving on is compulsory. Wouldn't it be better to read - and adore - fifty books, then read - and rush - one hundred? Stop trying to rush. Instead, like I'm planning on doing, lower challenge targets; and don't feel ashamed to. I continue to feel pressured into reading a huge amount, but sometimes, it's not possible. Maybe, it's not worth breaking a sweat over. It's best to read and relax.

What do you think?
Is it a race to the finish?
 Is reading competitive for book bloggers?

Tell me in the comments!


  1. I think reading is only competitive if you let it be competitive. I think it can be very easy to try to compare numbers with other book bloggers, but what does it really matter ultimately? I don't think you have to read X number of books to be a 'good' book blogger. We all read at different speeds and different books and these differences should be celebrated.

  2. I agree with Michelle above. I really only use goodreads to note down the books I have read - and even then sometimes I completely forget to use it! - but I certainly don't try to race through books. I'm like you, it takes me a week or at least a few days (depending on length) but I do have to admit, I do tend to look at "smaller" reads first and find bigger reads daunting.
    Personally though, this isn't because it's a race for me but because I lose interest quickly. (Usually I'm reading three-four books at one time too) and so when it feels like I haven't finished a book in a few weeks, it just feels a bit odd to me. Like I'm not really as invested in said book as I should be.
    But I don't think I'll ever understand the people who read books in a day! Good for them, I guess but I just could never do it. Who has the time? :P
    Read at your own pace, and don't worry about anyone else, that's what I reckon!
    Faye x

  3. I feel that when readers say I've read 10 books or more this month, that they aren't enjoying the characters or world building as they rush through them. Maybe they aren't and want to read so many in an amount of time and maybe some can just read as fast.

    I do feel that some readers may miss out and say I read this book last month or so and can't remember what happened, slow down and take your time. You don't need to rush, you read at your pace.

    I am a slow reader and read one book in a week. I like to take my time enjoying it if I really can't put it down, I may finish in 3 days. But I usually read 2-3 books a month.

    Do what you feel comfortable doing and if someone else reads loads, just think they could not be taking it in properly. Reading is meant to be fun and not a competition.

  4. Reading is no longer sometimes enjoyable. If I'm forcing myself to read something I feel disconnected it's no longer fun. I should stop forcing myself to read certain books. But I also feel I don't do all I should. Unlike other book bloggers I don't set aside hours to read. I only read on the go usually. Reading for me is a bit competitive but it is what keeps me on top of things.

    Amelia @ YA Bookologists

  5. The year before last I didn't make my reading goal. I wasn't devastated by it and I didn't let it stop me from making a big goal a year or two later. It sometimes takes me weeks to finish a book. I have a life outside of reading. Husband, Two jobs and I still have to eat and clean the house. Sometimes I don't have time and sometimes I do. It should not be a race but I can understand. The pressure to see that you've beat your goal is an amazing feeling. I know I can do it if I just focus...
    I hope that helps.

  6. I do feel pressured because there are SO MANY BOOKS and SO LITTLE TIME, and I love the feeling of crossing a book off my TBR list so that I can move onto the next one. But this doesn't diminish my enjoyment of the actual books. Sometimes, as a book blogger, I see how fast others read and feel like a bit of a failure, but really that's not true! Look around your class at school tomorrow. How many of them even read at all? If you've always got a book somewhere in your mind, if the question "what are you reading at the moment?" is met with a ready answer, not a blank stare, then you're definitely not a failure! And if you're enjoying the books, then you've won the competition hands down!

  7. I think lots of people see it as a game, the reading challenge at goodreads, I understand your feelings, mine are similar. I am also a slow reader, a really slow reader to be honest. I have set my reading challenge at 50 books, which seems realistic to me, but I am not even half way through though, and I am feeling the pressure of trying to finish it. But on the other hand I know I can't read any faster than I do, so I let it go an see where it get me.

    I think it is important to enjoy the book your reading, just because you enjoy reading, not because it is a race to show of how fast you can read.


Thank you so much for taking the time to read - and comment on - this blog post! I read and reply to every comment, so feel free to ask any questions and I'll answer!

See you soon!

Sophie Louise