Thursday, April 27, 2017

Reading Gamification

I read 36 books in 2016. I’m not bragging or anything; as a librarian, I’m actually pretty ashamed of that number. I have plenty of excuses for the low number (buying a house doesn’t exactly leave a lot of free time or energy), but the truth is that I knew I could do better. That’s why, when it came time to make a New Year’s resolution this year, I made reading priority numero uno.

The thing is, I’m a creature of habit. I need some major motivation in order to adjust my routine even a tiny bit, and I need incentives to keep going when I do implement a change. In order to accomplish this new goal, I had to do more than just tell myself to read more. I needed a battle plan.

First, I had to do a bit of introspection. What habits do I currently employ, and how did they become so… habitual? Most people know that I am a pretty big video game fan, but I realized during my self-reflection that I just enjoy games in general. I enjoy strategizing, plotting my next course of action, getting closer and closer to an objective, step by step. I don't even care that much about winning (although my husband would contest that statement), but there is something very satisfying about attempting and (hopefully) accomplishing a goal. That’s when it hit me. I needed to gameify my reading.

Now, I’m no game designer, so I didn’t actually develop a game from scratch. What I did was to join a group on Goodreads that hosts a number of reading challenges. Members of the group can join in any or all of the different games, whatever suits them best. I joined in on a few, but my favorite is called ScatterShelves.

ScatterShelves is a reading challenge adapted from the board game Scattergories. Every month, a moderator announces 5 randomly chosen letters from the alphabet. The Objective is to fill out your "Game Card" by reading books that use one of the montly letters to satisfy certain conditions. (More detailed information can be found here.) But filling out your Game Card is only half the battle. Only once you have read all of the books on your card can you announce to the group that you’ve completed your Game Card.

It sounds complicated, but it’s actually pretty simple. The challenging part is finding books that will complete the whole card!  As an example, here is my completed card for January:

Letters:  S G P R I
1. S – Supernatural – The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater  
2. G – Genetic – Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card 
3. P - Paranormal Fantasy – The Burning Page by Genevieve Cogman
4. R – Read for School – The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
5. I – Insta-Love – The Sun is Also a Star  by Nicola Yoon

1. First Word in Title      S – The Scorpio Races
2. Any Other Word in Title    G – Ender’s Game
3. Author’s First Name     G - Genevieve Cogman
4. Author’s Last Name   S - Maggie Stiefvater
5. Item on Cover    S – String Art (The Sun is Also a Star)
6. Any Word in Series Name or Subtile   I – Invisible Library series (The Burning Page is #3 in this series)
7. Name of Character   P – Puck Connolly (from The Scorpio Races)

It's not a competition, and there are no prizes for completing your card; but I’ve found receiving congratulations from other readers to be rewarding enough! Another bonus is that I've branched out of my reading comfort zones by reading books from genres I wouldn't normally be drawn towards.

As a result of this game, I have read 22 books so far this year. That’s 61% of the number I read last year, and it’s not even May yet! Come December, I’ll have a yearly total that’s really worth bragging about.

Clearly, gamifying my reading has helped me accomplish my goal to read more this year. This method may not work for everyone, but I think it shows that a little introspection can help you take advantage of what makes you tick. Find a strategy that works for you, and happy reading!


1 comment:

  1. Ariel, congrats on finding a strategy to help you read more! I've no doubt you'd smashed last year's number of 36 ;)

    ScatterShelves is my brainchild and as one of the moderators of group mentioned above (and fellow bookworm), I'm so very happy to have been able to help you read more and read wider! That is my goal each time I create a reading challenge :)

    Thanks for the mention xo