Reading: Challenge Yourself

This is my bookshelf. It is filled with many books. Many books that I have not yet read. My ebook and audiobook shelves are similarly filled with promises of “I’ll read you next.” The reality is, like many a bibliophile, my to-read list is legion. I’m currently sitting at 745, and that’s after a recent culling. This is why I love reading challenges.

There are many reasons to get involved in reading challenges. One obvious reason is simply to motivate yourself to read more books. For me, it’s about cutting through my to-read pile, with the annual resolution that I’m not allowed to buy any new books. Unless they are really good. Or on sale. And it’s totally fine if I add to the to-read pile if the books are coming from the library. Have to support the library right? Okay, my rationale doesn’t always jive with the reality of my bibliophilia, but I still love reading challenges for the way they keep me focused on what to read next and help me plan out my reading year.

I start my reading goals off each year with the Goodreads Reading Challenge. This is a simple concept: choose a number of books to read this year. I have settled on 100 for the past few years, which allows me some wiggle room if other activities and distractions bite into my reading time. If I manage to read more than 100, then yay me!

My next stop as I plot out my annual challenges is Worlds Without End. I stumbled onto this site a few years ago when they offered only one reading challenge that introduced readers to various themes or authors within speculative fiction. At the time I joined, the challenge was “Women of Genre Fiction.” Now, for the third year, WWE has expanded its challenge to give its members more room to play. Their Roll-Your-Own-Reading Challenge means members can create any kind of challenge they want within the wide range of speculative fiction. Since science fiction and fantasy are my main reads, I can really focus these challenges on eating away at my to-read list. There is a lot of opportunity for crossover, which makes my challenge look like a really cool checkerboard and allows me to select several challenges and gives me a vaunted sense of completion at the end of the year. Last year’s Roll-Your-Own-Reading Challenge count came in at eight.

Worlds WIthout End Reading Challenge
I did finish Star Wars: Bloodlines and Brown Girl In the Ring last year. Kinslayer and My Soul to Keep have moved into my 2017 challenges.

WWE has its own audiobook challenge, which I participate in for the sake of joining more challenges (I might have a problem), but my main audiobook challenge belongs to Hot Listens and Caffeinated Book Reviewer, which challenges audiobook lovers like me to listen to as many audiobooks of any genre as they can, breaking the counts down by level:

  • Newbie (I’ll give it a try) 1-5 Weekend Warrior (I’m getting the hang of this) 5-10
  • Stenographer (can listen while multi-tasking) 10-15
  • Socially Awkward (Don’t talk to me) 15-20
  • Binge Listener (Why read when someone can do it for you) 20-30
  • My Precious (I had my earbuds surgically implanted) 30+
  • Marathoner (Look Ma No Hands) 50+

I usually strive for “My Precious” but have pleasantly surprised myself by squeaking out a “Marathoner.”

These are my staple challenges, but this year, I decided to branch out a little with challenges that take me outside my preferred genre. I discovered this challenge from Natural Beach Living:

The reading prompts are as specific or broad as you want them to be. POPSUGAR offers similar reading prompts, with the added bonus of a reading group and an Instagram hashtag for community-based motivation to keep you on track. Book Riot’s Read Harder Challenge also has reading prompts, some of which are suggestions from authors Daniel José Older, Sarah MacLean, Roxane Gay, Celeste Ng, Ausma Zehanat Khan, and Jacqueline Koyanagi. They have a Goodreads group to help keep you accountable, as well as a hashtag across social media and local meet ups. Need some more motivation? If you send in a copy of your completed challenge by December 31st, you’ll receive a 30 percent discount from the Book Riot store.

This is far from an exhaustive list of reading challenges available around the internet, but if these are just too fancy and intimidating and you want to keep it simple, do you with Estella’s #ReadMyOwnDamnBooks challenge:

“Define your own damn goals or don’t. Vow not to buy books, or whatever. This event is really that loosey goosey. You know your stacks and your challenge agility better than we do.”

There are a lot of great ways to keep you focused on reading, and it doesn’t matter if you’re an avid reader, or someone who just wants to pick up a book now and then but doesn’t know where to start. Aside from reading challenges, group read-alongs, book clubs, or buddy reading are wonderful ways to motivate you to get through those pages. Whatever it takes to get those pages turning!

Wendy Browne

Wendy Browne

Publisher, mother, geek, executive assistant sith, gamer, writer, lazy succubus, blogger, bibliophile. Not necessarily in that order.