How To Plan For A Reading Challenge

With less than two weeks to go in 2017, many of us book nerds are planning our reading lists for the New Year.

If you’re participating in a reading challenge for 2018 or thinking about it,  I certainly hope you will join in my first ever (and hopefully annual) While I Was Reading Challenge!



In addition to this challenge I will attempting the 2018 PopSugar Reading Challenge, which I finished this year, along with Book Riot’s Read Harder Challenge. I didn’t finish Read Harder this year (I completed 20 of the 24 categories) but I gave it my best shot!

Adding together the prompts from all three challenges gives me 86 slots to fill. My goal for 2018 will be to read 100 books, which leaves me with 14 “freebies.” The good news is, as of today I’ve read 122 books this year and plan to finish at least two more. Plus I’ve already penciled out title ideas for those 86 prompts and can fill all but maybe four with books I already own.

So with all this planning happening around my book shelves, I’ve had a couple people ask me to share tips for how and why I choose my books for my reading challenges.

Reading habits are highly personal and subjective, so you may find this advice doesn’t work for you. I’m not the sort of person who likes to “just wing it” in any aspect of my life, I thrive with structure and guidance. Plus I’ve found that getting through 100+ books a year takes quite a bit of strategy. So here’s my advice…

  1. Comb through your shelves at home

Print out your challenge list, grab a pencil, and peruse all the books you already own. Jot down any title that seem like they’d be a fit for each category.


2. Update and review your To Read List

This is a great opportunity to buy, or make note of, any books you’ve been wanting to read. Look through lists of best sellers from 2017, or any other lists that may appeal to you, and see which of those you’re interested in that could fit a challenge category.



3. Think outside the box

This is the most crucial step, especially if you’re doing a reading challenge to get outside your usual reading habits. If you generally stick to fiction, that’s probably what you’ll think of when you initially brainstorm the challenge categories. Here are some other aspects to consider:

Classics you’ve been meaning to read forever. 

Non-fiction, including memoirs and biographies. 

Young adult and middle grade novels, as well as children’s books. 

Re-read one of your favorites. I highly recommend listening to the audio book of a beloved title, for a completely different reading experience)

4. Choose more than one option for each category

You don’t ever want to feel like you absolutely must finish a book to check off that prompt. Even if it doesn’t seem like it, there will be lots of options for each category, especially if you are creative!

*Decide ahead of time if you’re going to “double dip,” meaning permit yourself to use one title for more than one category.


5. Don’t force it

If you start a challenge and don’t like how it feels to be choosing what to read next based on the list, don’t continue. Reading challenges aren’t for everyone. Quit a book if you aren’t feeling it. Use this as the wonderful opportunity it is to cull your shelves. If you start a book and don’t like it, you don’t have to keep it. Give it away and free up that space for more titles you will love!


How are you preparing for next year? Are you participating in a reading challenge? Do you have any advice to add to my list? I’d love to hear from you!

And remember, you can join in the discussion for my While I Was Reading 2018 Challenge on Facebook and Goodreads! I’d love to have you on this journey with me, and all my supportive bookish friends!

You can download a printable list of the challenge categories here.

1 Comment

  1. 5 Steps To Plan For A Reading Challenge – Ramona Mead

    December 23, 2018 at 9:27 am

    […] wrote a post about this at this time last year, in preparation for my First Annual While I Was Reading Challenge. I’m […]

Leave a Reply