After I hit my book goal for the year, I felt a sense of relief. It's not that I thought I was in danger of not completing my goal of 50 books for the year, but I almost couldn't read enjoyably until I hit my goal. So while I felt a sense of accomplishment when I reached it, and it certainly encouraged me to read more this year than I have in years past, I don't think I'm going to be setting a goal for myself next year.
No more obsessively checking how many books I've read, or how many more I have to go. No more unspoken competitions with my friends and family to see who's reading the most. I want to be able to enjoy what I'm reading while I'm reading it with no sense of obligation. Don't get me wrong, I still want to read a lot. I still want to keep track of how much I'm reading. But I don't want to feel any pressure about it.
Since I've stopped keeping a mental tally, I've been doing a lot of rereading, which I used to feel guilty about doing. I recently picked up a series that I really enjoyed in high school called Faerie Wars by Herbie Brennan, and I've been enjoying re-immersing myself in that world. This week I decided to give The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath another chance. The first time I read this book, I was a junior in high school, and I thought it was just okay. To be honest, I think I just didn't *get it*, if that makes any sense. This time through, I'm finding it to be one of the most beautifully written and poignant novels I've ever read. I'm relating to Esther Greenwood far more than I did the first time, which is both moving and kind of scary.
I love that books can mean totally different things to me at different points in my life. I'm learning that rereading can be just as, if not more powerful than reading something for the first time. And I don't feel even a little bit guilty about reading a book for the second or third or twentieth time even though I have dozens of unread books on my shelves. Rereading can be just as rewarding as reading something new.
So I guess the point of this post is for me to tell you all that it's okay to read silly things. It's okay to repeat read. It's okay to take a break from reading altogether. Don't feel constrained by your unread book pile, or your self-imposed reading goals, or what everyone else is reading. Don't be embarrassed by your choice of reading material. Pleasure reading should be just that: pleasurable, not a sense of obligation.