I’m a little down about reading right now. It’s because I’ve realized that it’s virtually impossible for me to reach my 2022 reading goal. I don’t like not doing what I set out to do. Does anyone?
I wanted to read 150 books again this year. You may remember that I read 150 books in 2014. It was my last formal reading challenge, even though I’ve read at least 100 books a year each year since.
I stopped setting a reading challenge after 2014 because my 150-book challenge threatened to extinguish (or at least harm) my love of reading. I found myself finishing books that I didn’t want to read because I was “too far in” and wanted to be able to count them. It was more about the numbers and less about my love of reading.
Despite not having a challenge, I’ve continued actively reading and logging my books. I read anywhere between 100-150 books a year, but I’ve not reached the top number since 2014. Even though I’ve slowed down in my reading, people still recognize me as a sort of super reader. I’m the house blogger at my local bookstore, Best of Books, and was recently interviewed on the Okie Bookcast podcast because of my voracious love of reading.
Yet, I still fear missing out.
My Book FOMO
My book FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) comes in two varieties. Both of them are embarrassing.
First, I get sad because I know I’ll never get to read all the books I want to read. I have lists and piles, and I am constantly looking for new titles, even though it’s unlikely I could read all of the currently released books I want to read in my lifetime. This would be true even if I were a fast reader, which I am not. There just aren’t enough open hours in the day to read all of the amazing books out there, which is why I firmly believe that life’s too short to read bad books. Drop that sucker and move on to the next thing you can’t wait to read.
Second, I’m envious when people read more than me. TikTok has unearthed a whole group of BookTokers who read at least as much as I do. Some of them read up to 200 books a year! WHAT?! How do they find the time? And why do I think they’re lying?
I thought my rabid reading habit was unique until I started watching these women (It’s almost all women in my feed, although I’m sure there are men out there too.).
I’m jealous of their book collections, amazing reviews, TikTok audiences, and their lovely reading nooks. And when they mention their jobs, I just think, “HOW?!” How do you work, read all these amazing books, and run this TikTok account that I love? And more importantly for me, how I can do it too?
The Truth About Reading
When I really start getting reading FOMO, I have to remember that my BookTok nerd crushes and I aren’t normal. Gallup’s most recent study on reading in America found that Americans read fewer books every year. Americans report reading 12.6 books a year, which is less than any year since Gallup began the poll in 2016.
Of those surveyed, 17% said they didn’t read a book that year. Not. One. Book. Can you imagine? I can’t. I don’t go a day without reading, let alone a year.
I can’t help but believe that this lack of reading is directly tied to a decline in intelligence and critical thinking. After all, we know that people who read have higher GPAs, higher intelligence, a more diverse vocabulary, and greater general knowledge than those who don’t. That’s why I stress the importance of reading every day. It keeps your mind sharp. Readers even tend to live longer.
An Updated Look at Reading
This data makes me sad as a little girl who used to cuddle up on her bed with a book and who became an adult who reads any chance she gets. It also makes me pause and reflect. I never shame anyone for the amount they read. In fact, if someone mentions they read “a lot less” than I do, I discourage them from making comparisons. I say:
It doesn’t matter how much you read, as long as you read.”
So, then, why am I shaming myself?
No, I’ll never read every book I want to read. And what an unbelievable treasure it is that there are that many amazing books in the world that just keep coming.
No, I probably won’t reach my 150-book goal this year. I’m moving into October at fewer than 90 books read. It doesn’t seem feasible.
Yes, other people read more than me, and that’s ok. I’ll enjoy their TikTok channels and book recommendations.
I’ll continue reading and loving every minute of it. I’ll keep getting sad when a great book ends and annoyed when I really enjoy a popular romance novel. I’ll keep recommending books and hosting my monthly book club. And I’ll keep trying to encourage more people to read.
Oh, and next year I’m crushing that 150-book goal!