I know this is kind of antithetical to the Goodreads Reading Challenge, but…perhaps slow down and try one book at a time?
I know, I know, Goodreads says you’re ten books behind on your challenge. It also says you’ve got to read three every week to finish it on time, or something like that. The pressure is on! But have you considered…reading one book at a time?
I know it sounds strange, but that’s how I approach my reading habits, and even if it doesn’t net you 200 titles in a year, it has its perks. Let me show you how it works in my world, and maybe you’ll start to see why it’s not such a bad idea after all!
Mostly, I read one book at a time because I am a “book in one sitting” kind of person.
Sure, I can set a book down and pick it up later without getting lost. And I’m too stubborn to DNF books in many cases, even if they don’t hold my attention well. But there’s something satisfying about curling up with a book and turning the pages all the way through without going anywhere. Breaks who? We stop only for meals (turns out I’m highly food-motivated), or, on that one rare occasion, because it’s almost midnight and the book is spooky and no one else is awake. 😱
But because I so much enjoy reading books in a single sitting, and because I’m a fast reader, this works out well for the one book at a time life.
It also makes it easier to focus.
After reading, sure, I sometimes have to stop and think about which plot points go with which book. And I read so much that picking up sequels a year or two later? Yeah, that needs a reread first most of the time.
But the one thing I don’t do is mix up plots and characters of what I’m currently reading, because I don’t have any other books to mix it up with. One book means one thing to focus on, and my poor brain cells don’t have to juggle more than necessary. It makes reading feel manageable and bite-sized, even with a towering TBR. For me, the idea of reading multiple books at a time means biting off more than I can chew, and having even more unfinished but in progress things to do. Reading only one, though, makes for a very nice, ever-growing series of check marks on my to-do list.
If nothing else, getting through one book instead of getting stuck in many means I enjoy a sense of accomplishment. And nothing motivates me like feeling like I accomplished something.
(Also, on a particularly personal note, one book at a time mixes well with my depression. I don’t get overwhelmed and upset because I’m trying to finish too many things at once. It’s me and a single book, which is a manageable goal. Hello, finished to-do list item, and hello, serotonin.)
When I’m reading, I keep a notebook to make writing reviews easier later.
And because organization is the love of my life, my notebook is dated. Can you imagine the havoc if I tried to take notes on multiple books at once? It makes me think of my college notebooks, when a lecture would end without finishing the subject at hand and we had to pick it up again next time. That was the worst, and I always had to break it up by date, especially if the professor organized exam content based on what we learned up through a certain date.
In order to avoid that issue, the one book method works wonders! No jumping back and forth in my notebook, no frantically searching for all the notes on one book scattered in between notes for three others. It’s just me, a chunk of bullet points, and a very clear date beside the title.
(And do not suggest multiple notebooks to me. Yes, I have too many empty ones. Yes, I bought them because they’re pretty. No, I will not use them before their time. My current review notebook still has three full subjects’ worth of paper left and we are not wasting it! Also, I don’t want to lose track of which notebook I’m working out of. Thank you for your time. 😊)
And the best thing? I barely have to touch Goodreads.
Here it is! The Holy Grail of reading one book at a time! I almost never have to touch Goodreads.
Do I keep a “currently reading” shelf? No. Which means I don’t have to update GR constantly. Hell, I go on there roughly once a month, adding my reads for the month and cross-posting reviews from my blog. I don’t really use the friends or group features, since I keep contact with folks directly through blogs or via Twitter/Instagram, and until Goodreads updates their site to be more functional, I won’t change my approach.
Even better, I don’t have to see people’s really bad takes in the reviews. People giving one star to books because they’re racist or homophobic? Not even on my radar! I don’t have to waste my time on them!
Seriously. Keeping a review notebook makes it easy to do once-a-month GR updates and then run away from the site for another 30 days. The peace of mind is unimaginable and I can’t recommend it enough, especially if you find yourself frustrated with GR.
Now, this isn’t going to work for everyone. Trust me, I get it! And if you’re really jonesing to smash that 200 book goal, my approach might not be super useful for you. But different strokes for different folks! Maybe you’re like me, and this is the push you needed to fiddle with your reading habits. Or maybe you’re the exact opposite and can’t wrap your head around my approach. Either way, we should chat!