It's a shiny new year, sitting and waiting for us to fill it up with ideas and events. Many of us do that by listing resolutions or setting goals for how we want our year to shape up. Perhaps one of your goals for the year to read more books. As you know from Kristy's excellent Good Health-a-thon post if we want our goals to be successful it goes a long way if we make them S.M.A.R.T. Something that could help you on reading path is a reading challenge (or two or three...).
I love reading challenges. I especially love planning them. I love to sit there with the challenge before me and start a list (or spreadsheet as the case may be, I'm always looking for an excuse to create a spreadsheet). First I have to decide what kind of challenge I want to do. Sometimes one will just pop before you like a temptress beckoning you toward the dark side. Except these are books, there is no dark side. This time of year there are a ton of challenges out there (see below) so you can really pick one that meets your needs. Do you mostly read fiction and want to add some non-fiction to your reading life? Or vice versa? Do you want to explore a new-to-you genre of books? Do you want to a theme? Do you want to read more foreign authors? Do you have so many unread books in your house that it's starting to scare you and make you feel guilty any time you so much look at a bookstore because you know buying more books means you are either insane or addicted or both?
Not that I'd know anything about that last one. Ahem. Where were we?
Right then, once I have my challenge down I move on to thinking about what books I want to read that fit the challenge guidelines. There's usually at least a couple. Then I start looking at online bookstores and library catalogs too see what new books I can buy or borrow. Yes! Challenges are an excuse to buy books! (Unless you a like me and are trying to buy less books in 2008...) And then, and here's where things always get dangerous, I look to see what other bloggers are reading for the challenge. So I usually start off with a fairly long list that I then have to willow down. First dibs always go to books I own but haven't gotten around to reading (they will always, without fail, be the books that are read last or not at all during the challenge). Then I go to the books I can get to the library. And then it's to the books I have to buy. Because buying books for a challenge is a perfectly justifiable reason to buy books (unless of course you are doing a From the Stacks challenge...more on that in a minute).
So, I've got my challenge, I've got my plan, I've got my books. Now all you have to do is read them. And, believe it or not, this is the part where I fail. Repeatedly. To be perfectly honest I've never successfully finished a challenge I've started. But gosh darn it I do love planning them. So what I need to work on in 2008 is actually finishing the challenges I already started. I'm holding myself responsible for that. Last year I started an A-Z title challenge and gave myself a whole year to finish it. I read about half the books. While I've made all kinds of excuses for not finishing it a large part of it was that I simply didn't really try or put much effort into doing the reading. Sure, some of the book titles I did end up having to change post-relocation (new city sadly does not have the kick-ass library system my last did) but there are a fair number of books on that list that I own and didn't read. I did not commit to the challenge. But this year I will finish my A-Z and Summer 2006 (yes, that says 2006!) challenges I signed up for but did not finish. There. I've said it here. It will be done.
Note that one thing I said above is that I created my own personal reading challenge. If any of the challenges listed below don't rock your boat don't be afraid to form one to your own specifications. If you do blog about it and I know that others will join you, either by taking up your challenge or creating one of their own. We book people are joiners. For example, you could create your own From the Stacks challenge. The From the Stacks Challenge was the brainchild of Overdue Books. It has run the past two autumns. But if you were someone, say like maybe possibly me, and have a scary number of unread books sitting around your house maybe you could decide to read only from your stacks for the year. That's what Bookfool said she was going to do.
I'm making some substitutions because I also plan to read only from my TBR stacks - no buying in 2008. And, you believe I'll last an entire year without purchasing a book, right? Well, actually, there are some qualifications to that little personal goal, but we'll save that for another time.
She's using her own challenge of not buying books to complete other challenges out there. That sounds very...challenging. And BlogHer's very own Denise is challenging herself to a Printz Award Reading Challenge where she's going to read all the Printz award books - winners and honours! So don't be afraid to tailor things to what works best for your interests. If you don't like it, you won't do it.
And now that I've rambled on here, finally, is a list of challenges that start in January and run the whole year. Shorter term challenges are out there but there are so many challenges I simply couldn't list all those as well. Some of the challenges involve many books, some only a few. And I'm sure there are some I've missed. If so please add them in the comments!
My Year of Reading Dangerously - read authors or genres that intimidate you using their list or create your own! If you go with their plan it's 1 per month (with accompanying online discussions) until the end of the year. If it's your list, you set your own rules. Or you can do a mix of the two, reading along with their books some months and branching out on your own others.
Africa Reading Challenge - six books that either were written by African writers, take place in Africa, or deal significantly with Africans and African issues.
TBR Challenge - pick 12 books - one for each month - that you've been wanting to read (that have been on your "To Be Read" list) for 6 months or longer, but haven't gotten around to.
Russian Reading Challenge - read a minimum of 4 Russian books in 2008 (only four because of the length of many Russian novels).
Austen Mini-Challenge - read and/or watch at least two Jane Austen novels/movies in 2008.
Inklings Mini-Challenge - read two C.S. Lewis books (fiction or nonfiction) and/or watch films based on his life or his works. In addition, read two books by J.R.R. Tolkien and/or watch films based on his works.
Back to History Challenge - get back into history by reading 12 history books this year.
Man Booker Challenge - read 6 books that have won or been listed (either short or long) for the Man Booker Prize.
In Their Shoes Biography Challenge - pick any number of biographies or memoirs and read them in 2008!
Notable Books Reading Challenge - read any number of books from the Notable Books lists of 2007.
First in a Series Challenge - read 12 books that are the first in any series (new authors not required) over the year. Read them at any time during the year but challenge host is planning to do one per month.
Young Adult Reading Challenge - read 12 young adult books during the year.
Full Circle Reading Challenge - use the common words from your book titles to connect the last title and the following title. The last title in your list needs to share a word with the first title making it a full circle. See host blog for examples.
Decades Challenge - Read a minimum of 8 books in 8 consecutive decades in ‘08 - books from the 2000's are not eligible.
Celebrate the Author Challenge - designed to celebrate author birthdays by choosing one author for each month of the year and read one of their books that month.
What's in a Name Challenge - read one book each that has a colour, animal, first name, place, weather event and plant in its title - 6 books in total. See host blog for examples.
Triple 8 Reading Challenge - this one is for the heavy readers as it's 56 books in total. You choose 8 categories of your own that you would like to read 8 books EACH in but 8 of those are allowed to overlap between categories (hence the 56 instead of 64 books in case anyone was momentarily confused by the math like I was).
Every Month is a Holiday Challenge - blog host will post by month, what holiday takes place in said month and the challenge taken can then choose what book they would like to read for that month. Great for people who want to commit to reading a book each month but don't want to be died to a defined list.
Pub Challenge - read 8 books published in 2008. No young adult or children's literature allowed because minors aren't allowed in "pubs". ;)
Printz Reading Challenge - choose 6 books that have won the Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature or one of the Honor books.
A-Z Author and Title Challenge - align the author's last name or the title of a book (excluding "the", "a", etc.) with its corresponding letter in the alphabet. Each author and title entry must be a different book. 26 or 52 books depending on if you only do authors or titles or both.
Short Story Reading Challenge - commit to reading ten short stories by ten different authors over the course of 2008 or to reading between five and ten short story collections over the course of 2008.
Chunkster Reading Challenge - as the challenge's blog host says, chunky isn't always bad. Read at least 4 "Chunksters" in 2008 - to qualify the book must be 450 pages regular type OR 750 pages large text.
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