Image courtesy ckaroli via Flickr
I don't participate in reading challenges. And I don't accept ARC's to review. This is because I do not want to have my reading schedule dictated to me by outside sources. I want to read what I want to read when I want to read it. But I have still found other ways to apply unwanted pressure to my reading.
Book groups. Read-alongs. These are my weaknesses. As with blogging, I am happiest in my reading when I have someone else to talk to about it and share the process. I belong to a few book clubs on Goodreads and join in with the selected readings if they are on my To Read list already. I also nominate books from my own To Read list for group discussions. This seemed like a good way to kill two birds with one stone. Read something I wanted to get to anyway and have lots of other people to talk to about the experience. However, I have found that if you nominate titles often enough, eventually a percentage of them are going to be selected. This means that not only do I need to follow-through and read the book by the discussion date, but I have to lead the discussion. That puts pressure on my free wheeling reading ways. Self inflicted.
But I am a social reader. I can't resist the opportunity to read and discuss with others. When my book groups aren't reading something I care about, I turn to the book blogging community for other opportunities. If I see that a book blogger has plans to read something that looks interesting to me, I will offer to get a hold of a copy myself and read it with them. It is an addiction. I don't have time to read all of these books with all of these people - yet I keep promising to do so. And I am always thrilled with the discussions - but it does force me to read as promised so as not to let another blogger down - especially when it was all my idea.
It takes me about 2 weeks to read most standard length books. And I have a hard time reading more than one at a time. So this means I can fit in 25 - 30 books a year tops. I'm on my 12th of this year and I'm beginning to feel burnt out. I've been reading at the same pace as always, but the pressure surrounding the selections and the schedule is making it feel like I should be rushing through to get to the next one rather than just enjoying whatever it is that I've chosen to read.
That means that I have only read 3 books this year for me. Just because I was in the mood, not because I made a commitment to do so. I didn't have anyone to talk to them about, but I didn't have to read within a schedule either. It is a trade-off that I need to make more often and balance the solo reads with the discussion reads. Talking with others about books enhances the world of reading and I wouldn't have it any other way. But I need time for me too. I don't know how all of you reviewers handle it.