The Utter Insanity of Book Guilt

Sigh.

Being part of the blogging community, particularly being part of the book blogging community, is a fun, informative, and – if you want it to be – a largely collaborative experience. If you’re a social internet creature with a book fetish, there is a whole plethora of groups you can join to help hone your book goals and meet likeminded people who will comment on your page, and recommend you books they think you’ll love. Oftentimes joining these groups, and regularly participating in these groups, can be a really productive thing.

Joining a book challenge is probably the most popular way to go about group participation with a common goal in mind: someone hosts the challenge on their blog page, sets the rules, and those who are interested in that particular challenge will hopefully follow those rules, maybe even post their experiences following the challenge on their own blogs. It’s a great way to feel part of the blogging community, and to knock the dusty top off your never-ending TBR pile.

One particular challenge that I thought I could handle is Wolf Hall Wednesdays. The gist of the challenge is this: Read 100 pages of Wolf Hall, weigh in with your thoughts at the hostess’ blog page, and see what everyone else thought of it in return. Once a lively and colourful discussion has been had by all, you crawl back in your hidey-hole until the next Wednesday, at which point you discuss your thoughts on a further 100 pages. In theory, this is brilliant idea with a substantial payoff to the individual– it’s like an online book club, where everyone supports everyone else in getting through a fairly chunkeriffic read that you otherwise might be too intimidated to finish on your own.

Except I haven’t really been holding up my end of the bargain.

You would perhaps think that since the internet isn’t ‘real life’ you can easily drop book challenges that you’ve committed to online without psychological repercussions. Not so, my friends. The guilt I feel is disproportionate to what I SHOULD be feeling, considering I don’t have a boss to report to on a failed deadline and the other challenge participants probably don’t give a rat’s if I contribute or not. But the guilt is definitely real. I panic as the Wednesdays roll around like the next car in a city cab rank, and I am barely past the third paragraph each and every time.

So instead of writing my discussion post on pages 300-400 of Wolf Hall and feeling some sense of accomplishment, I am here writing this warning post and wallowing in self-pity. If I could go back to my younger self when I signed up for this challenge (all of four weeks ago), I would say “Don’t do it!!” or “Do it next year instead!!” But it’s too late for me. Maybe not for you.

Like I said, book challenges are a fun way to participate in the blogosphere, and accomplish some long-held book goals. My advice for newbies, however, is: don’t bite off more than you can chew.

You’ve just gotta know when to stop, I guess.

So here’s to 400 pages of Wolf Hall to catch up on before next Wednesday. It’s gonna be a long week.