Don’t Fear The Big Books

One of the big focuses readers have these days is the Goodreads Challenge Tracker. Every year, countless lovers of books set their annual goals for how may books they want to read, some only setting a goal of a single book to take the pressure off, and some challenging themselves with goals of 100 books or more. For some, these triple-digit goals are commonplace, but for many, they’re a threatening presence of trying to measure up to others.

I’m someone who sets large goals and I am also someone who ends up feeling pressured to read said goals. It can be really hard to ignore this pressure that isn’t even there! No one is judging people for how much or how little they read on Goodreads, but knowing that doesn’t always make a difference.

This year I’ve dropped my goal from 100 to 80, and I’ve just dropped it again to 75.

But this isn’t about TBR lists or reading goals, it’s about being intimidated by large books.

The point of mentioning the Goodreads Challenge, is that my fear of books that are over 500+ pages take longer to read and then I end up behind schedule to reach my goals. I always feel like I’m on a tight deadline when I’m really not. Reading isn’t a race.

The thing with large books, especially fantasy or science fiction novels, is that they can also be complicated, slowing down reading times to make sure everything makes sense and leaving time to look at maps, or pronunciation guides, or timeline breakdowns, or even a cast list. There’s work involved when it comes to a lot of larger books which can also be an intimidating factor.

But what I’m trying my best to get at is that it’s okay to take your time. It’s okay to book a big book down for a minute to read something quick. Make a bigger book your “before bed” read where you only read x number of pages before turning out the lights. Read it with a friend to help motivate you through it! There are so many big books that are amazing and worth the effort it takes to read them.

What are some big books you’ve always wanted to get to but been too worried about getting through it? Let me know in the comments!


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The Pressures of TBR Lists and Reading Goals

Looking at my GoodReads TBR (to be read) list verses my owned TBR, there’s a lot of stress – and pressure – to read through everything. I know one of the biggest reasons my TBR on GoodReads is so long because it’s full of books I see people being hyped about that might not even be my thing, but hey, someone I follow said it’s amazing so I have to read it right? Right?

Wrong.

There are so many releases every week it’s impossible to keep up with everything even though series (and sometimes stand-alones) become so hyped and so popular that the pressure to come aboard the hype train is very real. It doesn’t help when subscription boxes do special edition kits and that FOMO vibe kicks in because exclusive always means worth it.

Also wrong. (But 100% no shade towards some of the amazing exclusive boxes I’ve seen out there.)

Now you’ve probably noticed I’ve been using the word “pressure” a lot already in this little post, and there’s a reason for that. Maybe I’m the only one, or one of a few, but when series become hyped up on social media, it’s hard not to feel like you’re missing out on something. An example of this is Caraval, Throne of Glass, The Raven Boys, The Grisha Series, or even Harry Potter. Some of these I read and loved and was able to join in on the fun online, but others I felt like I was missing something and therefore didn’t feel like a “real” book blogger because I hadn’t read something or had but didn’t like it.

A lot of my TBR has been built up of books that have been hyped either on GoodReads, Instagram, or Twitter, and it’s a similar thing to what I touched on last week about impulsively buying books because they looks pretty on Instagram. It’s much less self-destructive to simply add things to an online list that doesn’t affect my wallet, but it does affect how I see my downtime. Constantly feeling like you should be doing something isn’t always a good thing, and can be really stressful. Seeing my TBR list at 400+, 500+, and recently 600+ makes me feel not only like I should be read at all free moments, but it also makes me feel like I should be reading quickly.

Much like the imaginary pressure to complete double or triple digit reading challenges on GoodReads can be counterproductive (hence why a lot of people have recently only set their challenges to one), having huge TBR lists can start to feel the same.

This year I set my goal to 100, but then dropped it down to 80 recently because it felt like a less stressful number. I will probably drop it again because the size of books I’m reading right now is significantly higher than what I was reading earlier in the year.

It’s okay to read slower and/or read fewer books in a year. It’s okay not to add every single book you see to your TBR lists.

Something I’ve started doing, is going through my GoodReads TBR and deleting first every book that I can’t remember the synopsis to, and then deleting books added years ago (that I don’t currently own) but still haven’t read yet. As of right now my TBR of 608 books has been reduced to 420. I’m also setting a rule for myself that until the book is in my possession or on hold at the library, I’m not adding it to my TBR on GoodReads.

It’s so easy to get sucked into that rabbit hole of adding everything to your lists, but life is too short for books you don’t absolutely want to read. My motto has always been that life is too short for books you also don’t like.

What are some things you do to stay pressure-free while reading? Let me know in the comments!


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The [Instagram] Envy Is Real

Today marks the first time I’ll be doing Tuesday Truths, a weekly blog series that discusses some truths that I have learned as a blogger and instagrammer.

This week I want to discuss Instagram Envy. Specifically, in my case, Bookstagram Envy.

It’s tax season, and my finances are honestly not all that great. I work part time and definitely need to start looking for more work to start actually reducing debts and saving money. But this isn’t about that. This is about how my finances aren’t great and that’s a mixture of impulsiveness caused by mental illness, retail therapy, and constantly oggling all the pretty things I see on Instagram.

The thing with social media is that we are constantly bombarded by new shiny things to throw money at or else it will go away forever. The exclusives, the pre-orders, the bonus, the giveaways. It’s thrown at all any time we look at our screens and it can be hard to fight those shopping urges. It’s all fun and games to do impulse shopping unhauls, and it doesn’t matter if it’s books, or make-up, or clothes. It can really be anything these days. And I know for me it only seems to increase my habits when I see the habits of others.

I said in my March Goals post that I was going on a book buying ban, and I’ve broken that four times over already. And for what? For some pictures on Instagram and even less space in my tiny room already full to the brim with unread books.

It can be hard to keep your real life in line when your online life is thriving with others who may or may not be better off than you. I know that the bookstagrammers I follow are almost all married/engaged with full-time jobs and homes of their own. That’s a situation plenty of us would love to be in (even if you’re not looking to get married), and it’s something that is easily forgotten when you’re walking to the bookstore or even Sephora or online shopping at your fav Etsy stores when you work part time and want nothing more than to move out.

The reality is, trying to emulate those we look up to might only dig us farther down. Myself included. I know I would love to travel, to get more tattoos, to have an apartment and a cat of my very own again. But if I keep buying up every pretty book I see on Instagram, absolutely none of that is going to happen.

So what I am going to do about it? What can you do about it?

First, I’m going to be keeping a list in my phone of all the things I want to do with my life, and how much those things cost. New tattoo? $200-$800. New clothes? $50-$100 depending. Trip to New York? $1000. My own cat? $60-100 plus ongoing expenses. My own apartment? $1100 monthly before utilities.

With this list I’m going to really make myself think about how much longer I’ll need to wait to do all of these things.

Second, I’m going to start limiting my own screen time. Am I repeatedly seeing things that I want and feeling those impulsive urges to buy/order them? Put the phone away for at least 25 minutes. I’ve already cut down my show/movie watching time by cancelling my Netflix account (see more on this next week when I talk about being more focused), so why not try to limit my Instagram time if all it’s doing is causing me to spend money I don’t even have?

And lastly, I’m going to track my spending. Along with books, I am also a compulsive notebook hoarder, and with these dozens of notebooks I’m going to do things the old fashioned way and physically keep track of every penny I spend so I can see where it’s going and try to adjust myself accordingly.

It’s not easy to curb a retail therapy addiction, but there are ways to do it. Let me know in the comments if you’ve ever had to really put a tight leash on your spending and what you did to help!


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