Editorials

How Reading Challenges Can Improve Your Reading

Reading Challenge

I read a lot of books. I read about one hundred and thirty seven books last year, not counting re-reads. Something I also did last year was participate in a couple “reading challenges”: prompts or concepts that are designed to engage people and help them read more books. In the new year, you can use reading challenges to help you reach a popular resolution: to read more.

Types of Reading Challenges:

There are a lot of different types of reading challenges, and not all reading challenges are for all people. You can also combine various types of challenges if you wish.

Numbers Game

One kind of reading challenge is the one that Goodreads features every year: setting a numeric goal. There isn’t much elaboration needed here. Pick a number you think you can reach, and decide to read that amount of books.

Spice Up Your Reading

Another kind of reading challenge is the prompt variety. Several websites, including , have released a list of prompts that are selected to broaden the scope of the books that the challenger reads throughout the year. These prompts can vary from “a book with a red spine” to “Read a book published by a micropress.”

Reading Themes

There are also a number of themed reading challenges. These kinds of challenges are less specific than the prompt variety, instead suggesting a idea for you around which to base your yearly reading. Examples of themed challenges are the “classics challenge,” the tbr [to be read] challenge,” and the “audiobook challenge.”

Here is a master list of a lot of, if not all of, the reading challenges for 2017 up on the Internet. When I said there were a lot of different types of reading challenges, I was not really exaggerating.

How To Start Doing a Reading Challenge?

Starting reading challenges are really easy. You don’t really need to have a formal challenge. All you have to do is decide that you want to read a number of books, or that you want to read more of a different type of book. It’s that easy. If you want to see a more complicated system, I’ll provide mine as an example.

For 2016, I set a Goodreads goal of 50 books, which I’ve exceeded by more than 200%. I was not expecting this since, in 2015, I only read about 50 books. I also started the year with the 2016 Popsugar Reading Challenge, which is a prompt driven challenge. In June or so, when I got to around 50 books on Goodreads, I added a second (significantly shorter) prompt challenge: the Modern Mrs. Darcy 2016 Reading Challenge. I finished the 2016 Popsugar Reading Challenge prompts on 21 December 2016, and the Modern Mrs. Darcy prompts on 27 December 2016. I keep a paper copy, as well as a digital one.

For this upcoming year, I’ve increased my goals. Depending on how you count, I’m doing 2-4 reading challenges. First, I’m going to set my Goodreads goal at 75 books for the year. I’m also doing the Popsugar Reading Challenge again (here’s the link for the 2017 challenge). That challenge has added an “Advanced” level, which I’m also doing. That would bring me to around the number of prompts that

I have three “rules” when I do reading challenges:

  1. One prompt per book
  2. No re-reads unless a prompt specifically calls for one.
  3. No repeat authors.

Your reading style is unique, and you can (and should) make your own rules. I hope you all have a lot of fun reading this year, because if you’re not enjoying your reading, you’re doing it wrong.

What are your reading goals for this year? Are you participating in any challenges? Tell us your about your reading life in the comments below!

Image via Flickr user quattrostagioni.


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About the author

Siobhan Dempsey

Siobhan is a 23 year old grad school applicant who aspires to be a human encyclopedia. She reads a sizeable amount of fiction, especially genre fiction. She also watches "too much" televison.

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