11 October 2009

Reading Attitudes: Challenge or Fun?

Yesterday, when I announced that I had joined Bart's YA Dystopian Challenge, I decided to start seriously examining my list of challenges. Year end will be here quickly, and I have a lot of books to go.

I already know that I can't finish the 9 Books in 2009 challenge. I'm failing that one because only three books can be used for other challenges. I should have realized when I signed up that that restriction would be my downfall. I'll be deleting it from my sidebar at the the end of the month.

The other iffy challenge is the Art History challenge. This one makes me sad because I have some great historical fiction and mystery books that fit the rules. I'm not sure why I have read only one book for the challenge. Even though I know I can't finish it, I refuse to give up; it stays in my sidebar.

I have a great shot at finishing all the other challenges that end on December 31. Some don't end until next summer, so I'm not worrying about them now.

What Does Failing Mean?

To tell you the truth, I don't really care if I fail reading challenges. I join them for the sense of community, because they're fun, and to help me get through my TBR stacks and my wish list. I've been quietly dropping challenges over the last several months, and it really doesn't bother me.

I have finished 17 challenges so far this year and hope to finish another 11 before it's over. In any case, I refuse to fret about the handful I didn't complete.

Have I Learned Anything?

Well, yes: I love challenges, and I'm not yet burned out on them. I've also learned that I do best with challenges that (1) are focused on a genre or author I know I love or (2) allow flexibility to fit my mood and can accommodate recently published or recently discovered books. I guess I'm not very interested in challenges that would actually challenge me!

How about You?

Have you started your year-end challenge panic? Do you care if you don't finish challenges? Are you challenge addicted? Have you given up on challenges? If you have never joined a challenge, why not? Am I wrong to join challenges when I know I might not be able to finish them?


Eva 10/11/09, 8:44 AM  

My attitude towards challenges is a lot like yours; I don't worry about not completing them, and I'm totally addicted! I see them as the perfect excuse to make long lists and enticing books and then actually read them. :D

As far as my status this year, I'm not in panic mode yet! I monitor my challenges monthly (since almost everything I read comes from the library, I have to decide what to request!), so I stay on top of things pretty well. I wasn't doing so great on the My Year of Reading Dangerously Challenge, but I swapped out some books and now I'm excited again!

Sandy Nawrot 10/11/09, 8:57 AM  

That is a boatload of challenges! Holy cow! Well, since this was my first year of blogging, I tiptoed into the challenge arena. I have gradually added them throughout the year, but feel pretty good about keeping up with them. I am pretty confident about finishing them all, except for one, which ended at the end of September. I think challenges are a blast. They force me into genres that I need to explore, but need prodding. I AM an over-achiever by nature, though, so it did bother me that I didn't finish one (Outlander). The fact that I've listened to about 200 discs already, with another 48 to go, helped me find good excuses for my failure though!

Unknown 10/11/09, 9:03 AM  

I signed up for very few challenges compared to some other bloggers (hhmmm, who could that be? lol!)because it's the first year of me joining the challenges and I wanted to do it on a tiral basis. I think I've only completed 4 challenges so far and still have 6 or so to go. I probably will not finish all of them but I don't fret about it either. If anything it's giving me a perspective I will need for next year challenges, I will know better which ones I'll want to join and which ones I'll skip.

Jen - Devourer of Books 10/11/09, 9:08 AM  

Even though I've been blogging for over a year and 1/2, Michelle's Harry Potter challenge is the first I ever joined (actually, no, it was the 999 Challenge, but I sort of forgot about that and finished it almost by accident). Even now my only active challenges are Harry Potter and Clear Your Shelves. I'll probably join a couple more next year (and of course I'm hosting the Deb Challenge), but I think I'm gong to continue to be a bit lighter on challenges than many people.

Molly 10/11/09, 9:10 AM  

I have discovered over the course of the past 9 months that 1) challenges are VERY addicting! and 2) there are new challenges constantly added throughout the year.

Since I started blogging in December, I thought that all challenges coincide with the start of the new year. I tried very hard to limit which ones I joined, as I hate to "fail" HOWEVER....I soon realized that new, fun, intoxicating challenges are added each month and in the spontaneity of the moment, I have signed up for too many and become over-committed.

I have still had a ton of fun and will try to complete as many as I can by the end of the year. I will not fret if I don't finish them all, for I know that I was introduced to GREAT literature no matter what.

(hmmmm...given the size of this comment, I should probably write my post)

Margot 10/11/09, 9:16 AM  

I like you attitude about challenges. The whole idea is meant to be fun, right? This is not a job from which I will be fired if I don't complete them, and I haven't noticed any challenge police nosing around. What I like about challenges is the camaraderie of joining with others to read the same author or type of book.

I have one I didn't finish this year so far and there is one or two more I may not finish. What I've done so far has been fun and has led me into reading some books I may never have read before. And for me that's a good enough challenge right there.

christina 10/11/09, 9:29 AM  

This is my first year blogging so of course I signed up for like a gazillion challenges at the beginning. Then I slowed after realizing that i had no idea what I was doing. LOL.

Some I won't finish (I had great intentions of broadening my Austen repertoire but think that I might remain ignorant) and others that were easy peasy (the YA challenge, since I teach middle school).

I am quite sure that come January I will sign up for tons of challenges again. I"m okay that I won't be able to finish them. I can't get on myself for *that* when there are tons of books that I haven't finished (my major stresser, haha).

Nicole (Linus's Blanket) 10/11/09, 9:54 AM  

I love the idea of challenges but am never so good with the following through. but like you I don't feel like I have failed if I don't complete them. I love talking over possible books with people and as you say the community. I don't think I will officially finish any of the ones that I signed up for, but that's okay with me.

Whitney 10/11/09, 9:56 AM  

I think I signed up for a few challenges this year knowing I wouldn't complete them in time, choosing to ignore the nagging voice in my head. I worry about having incomplete challenges for about a second and then remember it's no biggie, reading is suppose to be fun right?

Trisha 10/11/09, 10:10 AM  

I am rather awed by the fact you signed up for over 30 challenges. I love challenges, but I do feel an odd need to complete them, so I only signed up for about 10 this year; then again, this is my first year, so who knows what's coming. Good luck on finishing those last 11 challenges!

serendipity_viv 10/11/09, 10:33 AM  

I joined the Fall Into Reading Challenge, just so that I could finish all my other challenges. I put all the books in one list, so I knew what I needed to read before the end of the year.

Stacy 10/11/09, 11:03 AM  

I need to adopt your attitude toward challenges. When I failed my first challenge, it really bothered me but reading other bloggers who have had to let go and have a positive attitude about it has really helped me to just relax and let go. This is my first year doing challenges, so it has been quite a learning experience about myself and reading in general. I am feeling a bit burned out but know I can alleviate that feeling by just having fun with all of it.

Anonymous,  10/11/09, 11:22 AM  

I'm not doing too well with the 9 in 2009 challenge either. I don't really mind failing challenges either, as long as I've made an effort to complete them.

Christina 10/11/09, 11:23 AM  

Well, you already know where I stand on the issue, having discussed the topic awhile back when I officially dropped a couple challenges. ;-)

I don't get upset or fret if it looks like I won't finish a challenge. Of the six that end in December, I'm pretty sure I won't complete three of them.

I've gotten so laid back about the whole thing, I don't even worry if all the reviews are completed before doing a wrap-up post.

I love challenges. I like perusing my lists to see what fits, and I like seeing what every one else is reading. Not everyone has the same taste, so it's not like everyone's going to choose the same books for each challenge (unless it's an author/series specific challenge).

I've already decided that I will continue to sign up for 2010 challenge, even with the move next year.

Oh, and good luck with the rest of your challenges. :)

Nise' 10/11/09, 11:24 AM  

For me it is all about having fun while enjoying my love of reading. I will not finish a couple of challenges and its okay by me.

Beth F 10/11/09, 12:11 PM  

Vivienne: you are so smart. I wish I had thought of that. I didn't sign up for the Fall into Reading Challenge this year because I thought I had too many going.

caite 10/11/09, 12:23 PM  

I think I am the rare blogger who has never joined a challenge. Not a one!

I appreciate reading the reasons you like them, but I don't think I need the pressure..lol

KyleeJ 10/11/09, 12:28 PM  

I feel the same way about challenges. If I complete them, great, if I don't, no biggie.

Just Mom 10/11/09, 12:55 PM  

I think you have a very healthy attitude towards challenges. Joining and being excited about a challenge promotes the challenge for others so even if you don't finish, I am sure most hosts would be happy for the exposure. And dropping out rather than not finishing is just a realistic way to keep the challenges in their rightful place- as something fun - not something stressful.

gautami tripathy 10/11/09, 1:23 PM  

I only do three challenges a year. That suits me fine!

Literary Feline 10/11/09, 2:42 PM  

The first year I participated in challenges, I was determined not to fail any of my challenges and had I, I think it would have bothered me. The second and third year (this year), I took the challenges a lot less seriously. I wonder if that played a part in my not completing or dropping out of so many. I felt a twinge of guilt at dropping out, but quickly got over it. And then came the relief.

I think I am burnt out on challenges, unfortunately. This next year I plan to take a break from them all together.

Dawn @ sheIsTooFondOfBooks 10/11/09, 5:10 PM  

the challenges I've completed have been finished almost by default, just naturally filled in based on my "normal" reading.

I'd like to do more challenges that carry me across a particular genre or author.

But, in any case, I don't stress about it ... I'll admit I've been a terrible host for the LibraryThing Challenge I've hosted this year and last. There hasn't been a great response to it, which has kept me unmotivated (sorry to anyone who IS participating ... I've already decided to pass the torch to another host for 2010)

Memory 10/11/09, 6:16 PM  

I only join challenges that I'm almost certain I'll be able to finish, and I still don't manage to polish off most of them! I find that I do all right with the really, really loose ones, (ex, those that ask participants to read just a couple of books of a certain type), but I fail at those that require you to make a particular list. I love compiling lists, but I'm terrible at sticking to them! The books that seem really exciting at the start of the challenge seem rather less so once everything's underway.

Julie P. 10/11/09, 6:49 PM  

I'm just having fun with mine. I finished one this year -- Chunkster Challenge and I'm halfway through with Everything Austen. I've decided to take Amy's approach and not feel pressure. Who cares if I finish? I'll do my best, but really I'm just discovering new authors/books!

J.T. Oldfield 10/11/09, 7:02 PM  

I admit to feeling the panic...however, I started my own challenge, anyways. But because I knew that so many people are busy this time of year and involved in many challenges, I made it with four levels, one of which is to only read one. And it's novellas, so you know, it's short. I only just posted it today, so we'll see if anyone joins, LOL!

I try to complete all challenges, even if I'm way over the time limit!

Beth F 10/11/09, 7:17 PM  

J.T>: I like your attitude. I might do that with the Art History challenge.

Melody 10/11/09, 7:40 PM  

I love reading challenges. I always have fun reading the books but the best thing is I get to know lots of bloggers through them. Honestly, I wouldn't care if I'd complete the challenges as that's the least important thing among all, the most important is having fun and making new friends. :)

Heidenkind 10/11/09, 7:52 PM  

Panic? I'm not panicking. La la la la la. <.<

Cathy 10/11/09, 8:59 PM  

I'm in the challenge-free boat with Caite. Just think of me as a "butterfly reader"--I float quite happily from book to book on my TBR shelves with no plan or road map in sight! LOL

Alice 10/11/09, 10:20 PM  

I'm kind of a challenge addict as well, but I find that sometimes I need to abandon some midway when it gets too daunting... I'm bad. :(

Carrie K. 10/11/09, 11:32 PM  

I am totally addicted to joining challenges! I failed a few this year - I've already dropped them from my blog - but I've completed a few and am well on my way to complete a few more. And I'm joining two more. :) My attitude is like yours - I love the community, I love the fact that it gets me focused on my reading goals - and it's not a big deal if I don't complete them.

Marie Cloutier 10/12/09, 12:14 AM  

I've tried various reading challenges but inevitably fall short. I just don't have the attention span for them- all those new shiny books distract me and I can't stay focused!

Veens 10/12/09, 3:59 AM  

9 for 09 - is the same problem with me :()

Then actuallu I have finished no challenges this year.. but i dnt really mind not finishing.. i like your post.. that kind of talks abt what i think!

i think it is ok to not finish.. come on challenges are supposed to be fun right/?

i think the challenges that are flexible work for me!

ah well.. i will join again nxt year ;)

Anonymous,  10/12/09, 4:14 AM  

I am not really bothered if I don't finish the challenges although I will feel bad if I don't finish any. I'm one book in for the Classics challenge and I have 3 more to go, which I know I wouldn't be finishing. Others I have not yet tracked. I want them to be fun and if they start to stress me out, I'll let them go.

I bet signing off these challenges will have helped you too :)

Unknown 10/12/09, 4:27 AM  

I wouldn't be upset if I didn't finish a challenge, but I tend to only sign up for ones which I know I will finish, or am excited about trying to complete.

I do need to have a look at my challenges soon, as I have no idea how much I have left to read, but I am quietly confident that most will be on track.

Great question!

Michelle 10/12/09, 7:48 AM  

You sum up my feelings perfectly I join challenges more for the community and in many cases the inspiration to read certain books much more quickly than I usually would. But I don't feel upset if I don't finish one and I don't think I'm failing either.

I'm going to be revisiting what challenges I've signed up for and clearing out things I know I can't accomlish this year (many of which I started way behind the eight ball because of when I joined anyway). I've become a more focussed blogger so I imagine I'll be come a more focused challenger now too.

Darlene 10/12/09, 11:10 AM  

Like you, I like joining the challenges. I'm not doing good this year on most of them but I'm ok with that. I join because of the sense of community as well and it's fun to challenge myself just in case I do complete some of them. lol. I know I'm not going to stop joining challenges. Next year will bring a whole new set of them on my blog.

The Bumbles 10/12/09, 11:53 AM  

I'm with Cait - a reading challenge virgin. Though I remember doing some in school - they'd have summer reading challenges which earned you extra credit or something when school started back up. Since I was a little bookworm they were nice bonuses - not really a challenge.

On Goodreads I belong to a 50 Books A Year group where the goal is - fairly obvious. I participate mainly just to keep track of my reading. The first year I was curious to see how many I actually did read. I think it was 26? Not sure since my list got deleted somehow. This year I decided to keep track of pages read as well as books. I think I tend to read a lot of "chunksters" so that slows me down a bit. I think this year I'm going to end up around 30 books which is great for me. This method allows me to read whatever I want, as I want, without pressure. I can take part in a variety of book clubs online to expose me to a variety of genres I might not normally pursue and don't have to worry about whether they fit a challenge or not.

Louise 10/12/09, 12:49 PM  

I have quietly let all my challenges disappear from the sidebar (although there weren't that many) because I could see that I would fail, and it bothered me. Not failing, but advertizing my failing ;-) I did sign up for a short challenge, Southern Reading, which I completed (it was only 3 books). But I am sure I will add more challenges once the new year starts and I see all those tempting challenges being announced. I don't think you are wrong in joining them at all!

Anonymous,  10/12/09, 1:47 PM  

Hmm, interesting post and comments. I admit I am challenge oriented. If I sign up for one I'm going to complete it. That's it. I only sign up for ones I can finish. They don't have to be easy because I want to challenge myself (I did join the Austen challenge without ever having read one of her books).
I see that I am probably in the minority, but that can't be helped.

Mel u 10/12/09, 9:06 PM  

So far this year I have completed Five challenges, I am still working on one and two I will not finish as I my reading went in other directions-

I like a challenge that can open up new worlds of reading to me or push me to read some of the books that I have been meaning to read for along time-I love challenges and look forward to a lot of new ones starting in January.

Jenners 10/12/09, 9:47 PM  

When I discovered this whole new world of reading challenges, I was intrigued. I do it for fun and also to stretch myself a little as a reader. I love the A to Z challenge because it was pretty flexible in the beginning but then forced me to step outside my reading box to get some of the more difficult letters covered. I certainly don't stress about them but I do like the sense of accomplishment I get from completing one!! Like you though, I don't think I was to be "TOO" challenged -- if it starts to feel like a burden or work, I just don't do it. And even though I'm a big fail on the 100+ books, that is OK with me -- I like the idea of listing them in order as I read them and I'm closer to 100 than I was last year.

Fun post.

Kim 10/13/09, 5:15 PM  

Challenges are just as addicting as books, I only joined four, I'll get three done, I think, but the fourth will have to go. I'm hoping it's offered again next year and I'll give it more attention earlier in the year, because although I don't mind "failing," twice with the same one is a little embarassing!

Serena 10/15/09, 9:33 AM  

I've finished the WWII challenge; I'm 2 books/movies away from finishing the Austen challenge; but Sookie...not going so well...I've only read one book! LOL, but I have three in my possession...that's progress...right?!

Kristen 10/19/09, 10:01 AM  

In the past I have joined a lot of challenges and really worked hard to complete them. This time around, I have joined a lot of challenges but am letting the chips fall where they may. I'm not doing well on many this year but I have come to be okay with that. If you could only join challenges that you knew you'd finish, they'd be far less fun, don't you think?

S. Krishna 10/21/09, 10:13 AM  

I'm going to do a similar post at the end of the year about what I've learned from the challenges I joined this year.

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