Blast Out Of Your Comfort Zone With A Reading Challenge in 2018!
Following the lead of my bookish pal Lea, I jumped into Book Riot‘s first annual Read Harder Challenge at the start of 2015. It sounded easy enough: read a book to fit into each of the 24 categories. Two books a month? Piece of cake.
I approached my book shelves with my challenge list in one hand and a pencil in the other. I scanned through categories such as: a book that takes place in Asia, a book by an author from Africa, a book that is by or about someone from an indigenous culture, and a book by or about someone who identifies as LGBTQ.
I came to a startling realization, my book shelves are not exactly diverse.
I completed the Read Harder Challenge that year and in 2016. And while I’m still plugging away at this year’s list, I’ve already finished the PopSugar 2017 challenge (including the advanced categories, of course!)
While tackling these challenges I have encountered categories I didn’t understand or couldn’t find a book to fit. I lean heavily on the challenge discussion groups on Facebook and Goodreads to discuss the prompts and brainstorm title options.
Participating in these challenges has been incredibly rewarding, and I want to share this with my fellow bibliophiles. That’s why I’ve created the While I Was Reading 2018 Challenge and I want you to join me!
I’ve come up with 12 categories, which I’ll announce later this month. All you have to do is read, no other participation is required. If you start and don’t finish, that’s okay. However if you do complete the challenge, you can email me your list to be entered to win a prize at the end of 2018!! Stay tuned for more details in the coming weeks!
I’m not going to tell you that a reading challenge is 100% fun or easy. I’ve considered giving up on Read Harder a few times this year, as I’ve been particularly challenged by the extremely specific categories. And while completely a reading challenge can feel constricting or frustrating at times, I’ve found the pros far outweighs the cons.
Here are my biggest positive takeaways from the reading challenge experience:
- Setting and meeting a specific goal
So often, someone will tell me “I want to read more,” and it’s a great ambition but it isn’t going to get you very far. “More” is subjective – more books than what? More than one? More than you read last year?
It took me a long time to figure out that I thrive with structure and guidance in any part of my life. In my reading life, this translates to signing up for challenges, belonging to book clubs, and keeping a reading journal.
2. Broaden your worldview and knowledge
Sure I can read over 100 books in a year, but if left to my own devices I might not experience a ton of variety. More than once I’ve grumbled about a particular category and ended up loving the book I read, which I never would have chosen otherwise.
3. Encourages discussion and connection with fellow readers
Some of my closest friendships have developed through a shared love of reading. Often, discussing a book topic leads to conversations that wouldn’t have occurred on their own. I’ve connected with other readers, writers, and bloggers through social media and book discussion threads.
So what are your thoughts on reading challenges? Have you done one before?
I do hope you’ll join me in the While I Was Reading 2018 Challenge. I look forward to many great books and interesting discussions in 2018!