An Open Letter To My Failed Goodreads Challenge

An Open Letter To My Failed Goodreads Challenge

By Katherine Locke

Dear Goodreads Challenge,

I get it. I was ambitious. I read 106 books last year, so how hard could 110 books be? I was cocky. I was arrogant. I didn’t understand what this year would be like. I thought I could do it! I thought it was reasonable.

After all, I’m a decently fast reader. And I feel like that’s a reasonable goal: it’s about two books a week. I read all over the map, so I thought between picture books, chapter books, middle grade, Young Adult, romance, and nonfiction, the audiobooks, ebooks and physical books, surely I could manage two books a week. And it feels like I’ve been reading a lot! I’ve read 61 books so far this year! That’s nothing to sneeze at.

Of those 60 books, 22 were adult romance titles, 4 were adult fantasy books, 20 were YA books, 5 were nonfiction books, 3 were Middle Grade books and 7 were picture books. That’s a pretty good spread! I’m doing great.

Kind of.

Every time I think about Goodreads, I remember the Challenge.

And every time I log onto, the Challenge sits there on the left hand side. Silent. Menacing.

You are 14 books behind.



What do you think I am going to do about that, Goodreads Challenge?!

We’re in the third quarter! When am I going to catch up by FOURTEEN BOOKS?



I’m back. I did the math, and that’s just 3 books a week for the next 16 weeks.

That’s doable.

I mean, kind of. If I suddenly find my attention span I lost some time around June 2016. Also, if all the books I pick up are solid gold and I don’t DNF any. And statistically, I’m sure that’s totally possible! And I just won’t go to work. I’m sure my boss will understand.


I think I have enough sick days left to take one every week and read at least one book that day.

Oh! I can just read picture books for the rest of the year, right? I mean, there are some really great picture books out there and also it only takes me like fifteen minutes to read them, so maybe I just read 49 more picture books? Is that legit?

Or Goodreads challenge, do you weigh your books? (Okay, I know you don’t. BUT I FEEL LIKE PEOPLE WOULD JUDGE ME IF I DID THIS.) (Or maybe you would? Maybe you’d be like, sure you read 110 books, but 56 of them were picture books, and the total word count is equal to one middle grade novel. I’m going to have nightmares about adding pages to your little widget there on the homepage. Please don’t do that.)

Look, yes, I know you can lower your Goodreads challenge to a reasonable number.


Okay, yes, I know, it’s not defeat to lower your goodreads challenge number. It’s not like I haven’t done it in the past. But that’s when I set it at like 150 books! This is obviously doable.

I guess the recipe to finishing my Goodreads challenge:

  1. Pick flawless books that I will read quickly
  2. Do not DNF anything after the 40% mark but DNF liberally
  3. Read only picture books
  4. Use my sick days to read
  5. Quit my dayjob
  6. Become a full-time reader
  7. Move to the woods with no internet, no news and no cell reception as to eliminate all distractions
  8. (Note to self: how will I track my reading without internet? Look into this.)
  9. Listen to audiobooks while doing all tasks, read while doing all other tasks and retain nothing. It’s all about the numbers, baby. Get those finish dates!

This is personal now, Goodreads Challenge. Sitting there with your little judgey “you’re behind, Katherine” feelings. Okay, just because you don’t say exactly that doesn’t mean I CAN’T FEEL IT.

I am going to read those 49 books.



All I want is to finish my Goodreads Challenge... and I don’t even know why. It’s not like anyone else cares if I finished my challenge. If I told my parents I’d read 110 books this year, they’d be like “cool, did you make an appointment with your accountant yet? You’ve been saying you’d do that for weeks.”

When did I become so attached to you, Goodreads Challenge? Why am I so invested in you? Who am I competing with and why?

I’ll consider those questions after I read 49 more books.


About the Author

Katherine Locke is the author of Second Position, Finding Center, and Turning Pointe. They also write Young Adult, including The Girl with the Red Balloon. They live and write in Philadelphia where they’re ruled by their feline overlords and their addiction to chai lattes. They write about that which they cannot do: ballet, magic and time-travel. They can be found online at

Find them here: