2015: Reading on a Whim

2015 reading

I know it’s time to make resolutions and set goals for 2015, and I’ll do that… soon-ish.

But for now, there’s one main goal that I have in mind, and while it should be a no-brainer, I’m finding that I actually have to say it, write it down, and carve it in stone. (Or I would, if I had a chisel and a block of marble handy.)

My goal is this:

In 2015, I’m going to concentrate on reading… whatever I feel like.

Shouldn’t that go without saying? But it’s really not that easy.

Over and over again, despite my best intentions, I find my reading life consumed by commitments and obligations. There are book groups. Challenges. Discussions I’ve agreed to take part in. And all of it means that my reading is determined ahead of time and marked on a calendar… and I end up feeling frustrated and unfulfilled.

Biggest culprit? The domineering, dictatorial spreadsheet I set up to track my ARCs. I thought it was brilliant at the time — a clear, concise way of tracking all of the review books I’d yet to read, sortable by publication date, source, and whether I’d committed to a particular blog post date or other publicity event. It is actually great for all of those purposes — but when I find myself consulting the spreadsheet to figure out what to read next in order to stay on track, well, something is wrong with the system.

I get really antsy. I start feeling like I’m being told what to do (which I do not respond to well, in reading and in life in general).

This is why I’m not a very good book club participant. I’m fine, so long as we’re reading books that I want to read anyway. But when I start feeling compelled to read something that’s not really my choice, I get resentful.

This is also why I’ve stopped doing book-related challenges. I don’t want to pick books based on a category I need to check off or what letter of the alphabet the title starts with. It’s fun to see how well my reading fits in (sometimes), but it’s not how I want to decide what I read.

The bottom line, for me, is that I’ll never have enough time to read all of the books that I want to read. And when I pick and choose, I want it to be based on what I want AT THAT MOMENT.

During the last two weeks, I put aside all my lists and just started picking up the books that I felt like reading. How ridiculous is it that this felt like a big break-through for me, a special sort of treat?

Answer: It’s completely ridiculous.But at the same time, I had the weirdest feeling of freedom. I felt like proclaiming from the rooftops, “I can read whatever I feel like reading!” Crazy, right?

And so… here I am. I find myself in the odd situation of having to remind myself, yet again, that I read for fun and because I love it. Period.

I have enough responsibilities and commitments in my life. I read for me.

How does this translate into a resolution for 2015?

Resolved

In 2015, I commit to reading on a whim. I will read whatever book suits my mood or catches my eye. I will not be bound by calendars or deadlines. I commit to reading the books that I want to read, when I want, on whatever schedule I want.

In 2015, reading will be fun. And also, I hope, stimulating, inspiring, moving, educational, thought-provoking, laughter-inducing, and surprising. But overall, I want to enjoy reading 100% of the time.

Reading on a whim. Oh yes, 2015 will be a very good year!

25 thoughts on “2015: Reading on a Whim

  1. I read that whole post nodding frantically in agreement! I’m SO the same, a book that would normally be appealing becomes a task that has to be completed by a certain date, then written about…It does take the shine off reading! I’m going to try and do the same – but first I’m going to do the TBR Double Dog Dare, in order to get my TBR pile down a bit (it’s ridiculous!) Plus I’m going to aim to read more books in 2015, for my wee GoodReads challenge. I only put down 35 for this past year – but then I started a blog! So I’m going to pick a lot more to read this year. But first of all – like you, it’ll be what I want to read!

    • I think it’s kind of crazy that I even have to make this a “thing” for myself, but apparently I do. ๐Ÿ™‚ I think by reading according to my whims instead of by commitment, some of my huge TBR pile will be taken care of as well. I think the reason why I don’t get to my older books more often is that I get so caught up in the ARCs that I feel like I can’t take the time to just pull something off my shelf. Ugh! I’m really hoping to change my habits in the new year.

  2. It makes sense to me, Lisa… perhaps because it’s the way I’ve always read, at least with regard to ‘pleasure’ reading. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Nothing ruins a good book faster than turning it into a job. I’ve never had the obligations of ARC lists or a blog to fulfill, but I suspect we all have enough jobs to do that we deserve to leave something up to our whims and just enjoy.

    • Thanks, Kerry! For me too, that’s how I’ve always read — until I started blogging. Which is ironic, since I started blogging because of my love for reading, and now find myself loving my reading habits less than I did. Going by whim shouldn’t feel like such a struggle, but I’m working on it!

  3. Totally agree. Part of the reason why I kept on falling into book reading slumps this year was because I felt obligated to read the most well known classics (you know the ones everyone say you HAVE to read) or the most popular new releases. Reading almost became a chore at times and I never want that to happen again! Best of luck for 2015.

    • I like the weekly memes that make me think about what I enjoy (like the top 10 lists), but I can’t do challenges or memes that force me into reading certain books or types of books. It drives me up a wall to read a book that’s not truly my choice!

  4. Great post! I have committed to a few challenges, but I am gong to try my best to not stress if I don’t finish all of them. I don’t want to read something I don’t enjoy just to finish a challenge.

    • That’s exactly how I feel! The book group I moderate has a bunch of annual challenges that I participate in, but I always look at them as just for fun — I try to see how what I’ve read fits in, but I don’t pick my books to fit the challenges.

  5. Love your post on this! That mild pressure coupled with my “mood” reading is what made me request less ARCs and participate in book tours and reading challenges towards the end of the year (well, other than the ones I’m hosting…but aside from one RC that’s caught my attention for next year, I’m not planning on participating in any RCs). Yay for reading books on a whim/on our schedule! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • And now, to stick to it! I suppose part of my problem is that I’ve let myself get overwhelmed by the “mild pressure” (exactly!) to keep up with my ARCs, and then it gets so frustrating! A parallel resolution, of course, is to stop requesting ARCs (other than for books I’m really certain I have to read). I mean, I do still feel like I should read the ones I already have, but I’ll try to focus on reading them when I want to, and only if I really want to. ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. I want to do this too! I just did an update post on how I did with my 2014 goals and when I really thought about what goals I wanted for 2015, all I really want is to make time to read regularly — that’s it! I don’t want a lot of commitments or obligations either. I went cold turkey on the review books a few months back when I took a blogging break and it really has made me feel more free in my reading choices. I still do a few challenges, but ONLY ones that fit in with what I’m really wanting to read anyway and I am determined to not pressure myself to finish them if I change my mind about what I’m in the mood to read. And I am in a book club, but I am OK with that because there are always a few books I REALLY want to read on the schedule and I have discovered some gems I never would have picked up otherwise. Also, it is very much a social thing as well and the group is rather forgiving if you decide you really hate a book and decide not to finish it!

    • Going cold turkey on review books might be a good move for me — I’m loving the freedom these couple of weeks when I’m just ignoring all my lists and reading whatever I feel like! Social book clubs sound great to me, so long as there isn’t too much pressure and everyone has fun. ๐Ÿ™‚

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