On The Vanities of Competitive Reading

Hating Olivia by Mark SaFranko

January 2022 — Ah, yes, I will take on this personal experiment. I, Courtenay, will record the books I read monthly, and I will see how many I have read by the end of the year. Let’s see just how vapid this endeavour becomes.

June 2022 — Ah, I was correct in my observation. This is a pursuit of vanity. It has become less about the books, and more about fulfilling this need for validation. You’re not enjoying the stories as they should be enjoyed.

Summary/Reasoning: So, this experiment started off with me reading ten books in one month, but due to a combination of circumstances, I have not been able to read that much for months after. I already knew coming into this that this—whether people realise it—is a vanity project. Recording your reading for anything other than to remember is essentially forging a competition with yourself and others. Who can read the most?

How many books did you read?

12.

Oh, well, I read 180!

It’s no longer about enjoying Literature. You end up skimming pages to fill some banal quota that you have made for yourself. It gets to a point where you find yourself a shell of Patrick Bateman at a bar, talking about who wrote longer novels—Dickens or Tolstoy?

I intended to give it a year, but my patience is extremely low after some things that have gone on, and I just want to enjoy reading again. I’d rather have fun than pretend I’m better than somebody else because of how many books I read. When I’ve posted my progress here, I got this icky feeling.

From now on, I will only post my thoughts on novels I’ve enjoyed recently, rather than recording my reading month by month. I’m metaphorically smashing up the vanity and painting by instinct.

Stay humble, folks.

3 Comments

  1. Cool post! I got tripped on a list of 100 novels I want done … like a trophy… then I didn’t like one of them. This isn’t supposed to be work!!🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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