As each year approaches, we as individuals set ourselves goals that we aim to achieve throughout the new year. Recent statistics from Finder UK found that roughly two-thirds (66%) of the UK population are setting resolutions to attain for 2024. These yearly goals we set in place are often the result of continuous, suffocating pressures from society, which encourage us to better ourselves for the new year. This toxic positivity is amplified further by the likes of social media platforms. Here is where the debate lies of whether such resolutions are deemed as beneficial or instead detrimental. Many people take up reading as a New Year’s resolution; a popular way of holding themselves accountable for their reading goals is through the app Goodreads, where you can set a number of books you aim to read in the year. 

Throughout the course of growing up, we have all been encouraged to read more by our educational institutions and wider society.  Reading develops our literary skills and basic understanding of languages, but is this rise in reading habits necessarily deemed a positive? Or has it caused more damage than intended? Over the past few years, reading has become increasingly popular as a result of growing representation and trends across social media platforms. A key site that has encouraged this behaviour is TikTok and its hashtag page ‘BookTok’, whereby individuals post videos about popular books at the time. Users often give their opinions and recommendations for other books to read. Following these trends, many individuals tend to set goals for themselves as a means of increasing their volume of reading, especially at the end of the year. When we set New Year’s resolutions, we don’t often stick to them and if we do it isn’t for long, which raises the question: Why? We tend to believe resolutions are hard to keep because it creates a pressure of maintaining reading momentum, and instead of viewing reading as a hobby, we end up seeing it as something we have to do, almost like a chore. It can then be argued that promoting positive ideas of reading can lead to overconsumption of books and reading. Not only that but over-reading for the sake of reaching yearly goals can often lead to reading slumps. Reading slumps usually occur after periods of reading too much, which can make readers feel unmotivated to read and unable to stay focused on what they are reading. 

We should read for personal enjoyment rather than to better ourselves and become competitive.

As mentioned previously, a key media platform for bookworms is a website and app called Goodreads, which can sometimes reinforce these negative behaviours associated with yearly reading goals. The platform Goodreads was initially founded in 2006 but became more popular in recent years alongside reading’s rise in popularity. The site allows you to create a profile whereby you can add books that you are currently reading, add books that you want to read, and track your progress. You can add friends and follow others, yet despite creating a community where you can discuss common interests, it can contribute to the toxicity of over-reading as individuals end up competing with each other. Another key feature of the app that reinforces such negativity is Goodreads’ own yearly reading challenge. This immediately encourages people to create a resolution of reading more and therefore a pressure to complete the goal. Both of these take away the enjoyment out of reading and therefore its purpose. 

It can be very easy to get carried away with what seems to simply be a leisurely activity. Many of these hobbies that we wish to take part in and set goals for can become a toxic environment and therefore detrimental to one’s well-being. With regards to reading, we should read for personal enjoyment rather than to better ourselves and become competitive!

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