Written by Madalyn Campbell
In general, humans respond well to validation. Do something and get a reward, any reward. Is the simple reward of a job well done enough? For some people that is plenty, but for others there has to be something more to doing a task. How do we make ourselves read in this world where a million other things are happening? You could use your ride on the bus to read a few pages or you could get on social media and get a few “likes” on your status. There are no thumbs up for reading, no one to tell you “good job.” The reward of reading those few pages is the few pages themselves. But, if that isn’t enough for you, what do you do? Does reading just fall by the wayside forever in favor of other things?
A few months ago, I finally caved and made a Goodreads account. Suddenly, I was ready to read. I wanted to read everything, so I could record it on my account. I wanted to look at all the books I read and think, “Wow, look at me, a reader!” I suppose I’m a person that can’t just read for the fun of it; I need that incentive. It isn’t even that big of an incentive. I don’t know what it is about lists that makes people feel accomplished. To do lists are the backbone of my day. I can’t get anything done unless I can cross it off a list. I can’t even watch TV shows without making a list of them and then happily crossing out the ones I finish.
Reading challenges scratch that same itch. It feels nice to read a certain number of books in a year or read all the books on a list. It feels nicer to mark them down somewhere. For me, I don’t even need the boasting component. I don’t need to show everyone all these books I’ve read; it’s enough to see a list of them. It gives reading a tangible goal to achieve. Of course, the actual reading is fun, but sometimes fun isn’t enough. Sometimes you need to feel like you’ve accomplished something, and simply keeping it as a list in your head doesn’t do it.
So, maybe the motivation you need to finish all those books is a list. You can plow through books knowing you’ll be able to look back on crossed-out titles. Or, you can keep a record of books you’ve read so you can smile fondly at all of them.