Remember that time I decided to do eighteen reading challenges? Spoiler: it didn’t go so well.
Yep, in February before I discovered the book blogging community, I discovered reading challenges from a random Google search. And I figured – I’m gonna read a ton of books anyway, might as well try some challenges! And let’s jus say I got a little overzealous in estimating my capabilities. It was pretty much downhill from there.
It was fun for awhile! I could pretty much read whatever I wanted and cross of a ton of different categories across different challenges. And it did force me to read some books I had been putting off for a long time (Jane Eyre, Persuasion).
But then in about October, I had to start scrambling to try to finish as many challenges as I signed up for. I found myself scouring the internet in a haze with searches like “what is a book that starts with Q that is written by an author whose last name starts with G who is also Australian? ” It was too hard, and it stopped being fun. I felt like I could only read books that satisfied my reading challenges or else I would be wasting valuable challenge time.
So eventually I said, screw it. Reading is supposed to be fun. I decided to just read the books I wanted, challenges be damned. I stopped keeping track of the books I was reading in November, and I honestly felt so much freer!
So how did I do on my challenges? It was a mixed bag:
2015 ALPHABET SOUP CHALLENGE: 85% Complete
This challenge was to read a book starting with each letter of the alphabet. It was fun until you realize that no books start with X or Q.
Most books per letter: 11 A books!
2015 BANNED BOOKS CHALLENGE: 113% Complete
One of the few challenges I completed this year! Decided to re-read the Alice series (one of my favorite childhood series) was a huge boost for this list, as it is apparently one of the most banned series in America.
2015 TBR PILE CHALLENGE: 116% Complete
This one was all about reading books that had already been on your TBR for at least a year. I read fourteen out of a goal of twelve, but honestly there are so many other books on my TBR that I should have read! I need to do a serious reading purge of my TBR before buying new stuff!
2015 WOMEN CHALLENGE: 250% Complete
Turn out I’m a BONAFIDE WONDER WOMAN! 50 out of the 75 books I read this year were written by women. I had no idea my reading was so skewed.
2015 NON-FICTION READING CHALLENGE: 110% Complete
Surprised I made this one, honestly! Nonfiction is not my go to genre, but I read a good collection of memoirs, essays and narrative journalism this year. There’s still so much more out there though!
AUTHORS A-Z READING CHALLENGE: 84% Complete
I really tried on this one. The idea of reading an author for each letter of the alphabet seemed so easy! But then you’re stuck with U, V, X and Z and you know its time to throw in the towel.
Most per letter: M (7 books), A (6 books), S (5 books)
BACK TO CLASSICS READING CHALLENGE: 66% Complete
I knew I wasn’t going to complete this one. I like reading classics (and looking fancy when I read them in public) but I also need to space them out! Though three books I read this year for this challenge – Persuasion, Jane Eyre, and Breakfast at Tiffany’s, ending up being three of my favorites of the year.
DIVERSITY ON THE SHELF 2015: 100% Complete
This is a challenge I expected to do much better on. I thought I was reading a diverse collection of authors, but this challenge taught me that I really, really want and need to seek out diversity in my literature. It’s easy to get stuck in mainstream (and often white) content, but its so important to look beyond that. That is something I will definitely continue to work on!
READING ROAD TRIP 2015 CHALLENGE: 54% Complete
Reading a book set in every state? THAT WAS DEFINITELY NOT GONNA HAPPEN. It did force me to realize just how many books are set in New York. Truly a disproportionate amount. It’s like the default setting for all books.
BOOK RIOT 2015 READ HARDER CHALLENGE: 91% Complete
I actually really liked this challenge! It had a great variety of different categories that really did force me to try new genres. I just didn’t get around to reading a collection of poetry. I just don’t ever feel like reading poetry, you know? I WAS SO CLOSE THOUGH.
POPSUGAR 2015 READING CHALLENGE: 94% Complete
Another eclectic challenge! But this one was just. so. long. 50 books ins a big commitment, and I didn’t ever find time to read: a book your mom loves, a book written in a foreign language, and a book I was supposed to read in school but didn’t (I read all the books!). I could’ve forced it, but ultimately that’s just not what reading is about for me.
So would I sign up for a bunch of reading challenges again? Probably not. Reading challenges definitely forced me to expand my horizons, and I would definitely recommend them to people who get stuck in the same genres over and over. But ultimately, doing reading challenges made reading less fun for me. I felt like I was doing an assignment, not engaging in a hobby. If I do sign up for reading challenges next year, it will be one or two very low-key ones that will help me explore books rather than assign me a laundry list of tasks.