My Goodreads Challenge is Inaccurate, and That’s Okay

I set a Goodreads goal this year to read 60 books. In 2014 and 2015, I had a goal of 50 and exceeded it by a few, so last year it was truly a challenge, by not an unreachable one. Unfortunately, I didn’t quite make it because when I went to college my reading dropped off because I wasn’t spending too much time alone and I didn’t have to read many books for class (mostly short stories). This year I’m trying for 60 again and so far I’m a 40–2/3 of the way through, and 7 books ahead. And I haven’t finished a book in the past week. So what happened?

The short answer: school. My spring semester, unlike my fall one, I had to read a lot for class and many of it was books. On my Goodreads challenge, I have counted the following from my classes:

  • 7 novels, 2 nonfiction books, and 2 graphic memoirs for my literature classes
  • 2 books I read that were my choice but were wholly or partially written about for class (that’s Difficult Women and The Hate U Give)
  • 6 nonfiction books and more academic “textbooks” I had to read all or some of for other classes

Yes, you read that–“all or some of.” I counted books that I read most but not all of the chapters in it, so I didn’t read it all. BUT there’s also a lot that I read that couldn’t be counted on Goodreads–short stories, poems, articles, chapters from other books…I figure that makes up for the portions of “read” books I didn’t actually read.

And this has reminded me of something I need to remember: it isn’t all about what “counts.” I haven’t read many stories and poems in literary journals (online or print) because they don’t “count,” for instance, and that doesn’t help my writing goals. It also means I’m less likely to read longer or more difficult books and more likely to read shorter and quicker stories (though I confess that this time I picked up graphic novels and comics not for that reason).

Goodreads and its challenges are incredibly useful to me keeping track of things, but it isn’t everything, and I’m glad I’ve recognized that.

How do you use your Goodreads challenge or keep track of your reading?