Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Reading Challenges

The new year is here and, if you're like me, it's taken a week or two for you to settle in and get your mind back in focus after the holiday break. Which is why I'm a little late on this post on New Year's Reading Challenges.

Reading challenges seem to be all the rage—possibly because of the popularity of talking about books blogs social networking sites: the internet makes it easy to find like minded readers to discuss and share your interests with. What's a reading challenge? It's a goal you set yourself early in the year—a commitment to read books: whether a certain number of books, or a certain type.

I'd seen a few people on the internet talking about reading challenges back before Christmas, but what really got me interested was an article in Salon.com called Be a Better Reader in 2011.

The end of the article lists 18 different challenges that the author found intriguing: I can assure you these are only a tiny fraction of the ones that exist. From the Salon.com article I found out about The Chunkster Reading Challenge—where you commit to reading books over 450 pages long—The Foodies Reading Challenge—where you read books about food, whether cookbooks, fiction, memoirs or other—and the Haruki Murakami Reading Challenge—where you read books by Japanese author Haruki Murakami.

And these are just some of the ones mentioned in that article. Digging around I found tonnes more. Like the Victorian Literature Challenge, the Alex Cross Reading Challenge, the 1st In a Series Reading Challenge and, for really ambitious readers, the 100 books in 2011 Challenge.

The thing with these reading challenges is that it's not just about the reading: many of these challenges also ask you to blog about your reading once you've done it. The sharing of the reading experience—and if you don't blog this could simply be through talking with fellow readers—is as much a part of the challenge as the actual reading. And if you don't find an existing challenge that you want to participate in: you can always start your own.

Now that I think of it, I've done a few reading challenges before: some successfully and some not so. Here at The Reader we did a Poetry Challenge for poetry month in 2009. A few year's ago, some friends and I committed to reading Ulysses in time for Bloomsday. (Only one of us finished—it wasn't me). Also in 2009 I took part in Infinite Summer: where people around the world committed to reading David Foster Wallace's novel Infinite Jest. Even though interacting with the blog about reading the book actually created more reading (on top of a novel that is already 1079 pages long), feeling a part of a community, having folks to check in with (both in person and online) and compare progress and notes made the reading experience far richer.

Are you doing a reading challenge this year? Tell us about it below. And tune in tomorrow to see which reading challenge I'm signing up for and will blog about here over the course of 2011.


  1. I'm taking part in the 75 books challenge on LibraryThing. This is my third year taking part and each year I surpass my goal. It's interesting to keep track of your reading for a year.

  2. I've been in a book slump the last year, so my reading challenge for this year is simple: to get back to my reading habits! That means at least 30 books a year.

    So far so good, I've already read 7 books this month =)