Thursday, October 13, 2011

Julia Muses on Reading Challenges

Oh, reading challenges. If you want to do one and have any particular interest in something, somewhere in our interlocking web of blogs there is one for you. I used to be the queen of reading challenges. I even took it so far to say that I “read competitively.” When I started my new job, on the internal website, when I was supposed to write an About Me, I actually included that tidbit on there*. I would break out my spreadsheets and scour Goodreads looking for that one book which sounded interesting enough to fit in my "Authors from Africa" 10 point task. Or maybe I could use it in "Alliterative Titles". Making these spreadsheets and lists was almost just as fun as reading the books!

And oh! What books I found! Some were a little dry and not ones I would ever read again, but on the flip side I read The Book Thief, The Hunger Games, Fahrenheit 451, The Art of Racing in the Rain, just to name a few. Such great books that I would never have found if they didn’t fit the “Books Narrated By Animals” task or “Books about Books”.

It was a good time and people who knew me said how happy I was. In fact just recently, I was conversing about my current lull in life when my one friend said “You should go back to doing those reading challenges. You were always so happy while doing them.”

And that is true! The reading challenges take a solitary task and make it social, much the same way blogging does with reading. It gives reading a book and extra sense of accomplishment.

Unfortunately for me, real life took hold and sent me all asunder and my challenges fell to the wayside. Blogging took over my free reading time, but I can’t help yearn for the days when I had the hours and motivation to pour over those spreadsheets.

So, readers, how about you?

Do you take part in reading challenges? What do they mean to you? Do you have any tips or tricks for a working girl like me to be able to keep my balance what actually completing one?

I guess I still have time this year to complete the one I really wanted to complete. Roof Beam Reader’s To Be Read (TBR) Challenge (original list posted at my personal blog which hasn’t been updated since February...) The challenge was to read and review 12 books of your TBR shelf. As of right now, I have read 4 and reviewed 2 of those. Two more of those books were purchased in the Great Borders Liquidation. So maybe I can get a 50%?

*Fun fact: if you GIS competitive reading, my picture shows up. No lie.


  1. I take part in one a year, maybe two. i find that not taking them too seriously is ok. if you read a book too fast to get it done so you can chalk it off the list makes it so that you dont remember that book or fully get that books expierence. Also not completeing a challenge is OK as well, you are not a failure, life happens and if you had fun and found new books then you won anyways. (i sound like a sitcom mom)

  2. I take part in the Seasonal Reading Challenge (Goodreads). It's so in depth that I can fit the books I really want to read into any task - and since I will NEVER be able to actually complete all the tasks, I can pick and choose the ones I do, so that I'm not left stuck reading books that I'm not really into (either the genre or subject matter).

  3. I signed up for a reading challenge this year, but real life hit me like a ton of bricks and it fell by the wayside. I'm considering taking on one or two next year, but I have this little personality trait where if I feel like I HAVE to do something, sometimes I just won't do it. Like I'm spiting myself. We'll see how it goes.

  4. I am completely new to the world of book blogging, but when I found out about reading challenges it confused me. Why would reading, and challenge be in the same sentence? That makes reading sound like, not fun! I think I get it now, it's just a way to push yourself to read more, but personally, I like to take my time and enjoy each book that I read, and a challenge might make me feel anxiety.

  5. You can do it! I'm still 4 books shy of completing my goal, and definitely nervous as some of my books are pretty long... BUT I'm going to give it my best. I just started Dante's Inferno and am hoping that doesn't take me months to read. LOL

  6. I try to participate in a few each year although I do make an attempt to only participate in ones that really interest me. That way I still have an interest later in the year when I realize I still have a few books left to go.

    What you can do is set some personal reading goals instead. This year I'm making an attempt to finish all the Jane Austen books I haven't read yet and read at least one non-fiction book a month. I'm sorta failing on the last one though... :-)

  7. Well, I suppose this is a good reminder that I'm a bit behind on the one I set up for this year!

    I think challenges are fun, but I never take them too seriously - and this is the first time I've ever heard it called 'Competitive Reading"!

  8. I love challenges! I think they make reading fun, kind of like a puzzle. I want to read a million books anyway, so why not make it a teensy bit easier on myself and single out the ones that need to be completed for the challenges I've set for myself! Since I didn't start consistently blogging until about six months ago, I didn't start many of the challenges I think look really great--because the year was almost halfway thru by then. But I've got my eye on some great-looking ones for next year!

    I say you should totally try and pick back up your challenges, at least the one you've mentioned here from Roof Beam Reader! And when you start them, aim kinda lower than you would've last year. That way, when you achieve the goal and go over, you'll feel like a ROCK STAR. :)


  9. I don't generally like reading challenges. It takes the fun out of reading for me.

  10. I've been participating in the goodreads' seasonal reading challenges since the beginning, but I just couldn't do it anymore. I barely have time to read and I don't want to waste the reading time I do have trying to figure out where to fit a book. I challenged myself to read 52 books this year and to read a book starting with each letter in the alphabet. Those are my personal reading challenges this year.

  11. I love reading challenges too and agree that they make reading fun and more social. I like to see what others read to complete them but I definitely don't do spreadsheets. I just read what I want to read throughout the year and if I complete them, yeah! and if I don't, oh well!

  12. When I first started my blog, I signed up for a few challenges but, like you, life got in the way and they fell to the wayside. These days I have more free time and am hoping signing up for a few challenges (probably in 2012) will help me get back on track with reading!

  13. This is such a great topic Julia! I LOVE reading challenges. I don't really compete in anything else and this I can do :)
    I always join in on the College Students Reading Challenge and making the list is half the fun. I do however accept that I'll probably not finish it, it's fun anyway.
    And this year I also signed up for the Story Siren's Debut Author Challenge, which is tons of fun! I LOVE discovering new authors!

  14. I love the idea of reading challenges and have finished a few, but in the context of blogging I find that they put an uncomfortable pressure on me to find books that fit the challenge and then write about them.

    The challenges I find most useful are the ones that allow me a wide choice of genre and themes (e.g. to discover 5 new authors or read a specific number of books in a given length of time), rather than narrower ones with themes or genres, e.g. horror novels, supernatural themes, the American Civil War, etc.

    For example, I thoroughly enjoyed hunting down books for a challenge to read one book connected with each of the continents, but gave up on a challenge to read 5 Gothic novels.

  15. This is the first year that I decided to do a reading challenge. I was living in England at the time, and thought it would be a great way to be a part of the 'universe'... So, I grabbed a few challenges. I have actually completed one, and when I was looking for a challenge, I made sure that I could (hopefully) complete it!

    The first one I took on is actually '100 books in 1001 Days.' I had seen a few people go for 100 books in a year... that's just insane and I don't think you are allowing Life to get in the way with something like that!

    Another one I signed up for is the 2011 Challenge... and it's helped me to branch out in different books.

    They are fun... try not to take them too seriously... and I am sure that I haven't done them completely right, as I only talk about the books on my site... But glad I have decided to do it...I might even create my own challenge for next year!

  16. There are one or two personal challenges I've been doing for a while & a 52-book challenge on GoodReads, but apart from that, I've never participated in one. The idea sounds awesome and I think I'd like to do one someday, but I wonder if that would make reading feel more like an assignment.

  17. While I love the IDEA of reading challenges, I'm a fickle reader and, with my eclectic tastes, have a hard time sticking with them. That, and I suck at updating my challenge lists.

    I guess I just want to read what I want to read when I want to read it!

  18. I've only read 15 books so far this year, so I'm a bit behind to say the least on my reading challenges. I'm still enjoying it though! I guess my advice would be to count up how many books in total you've signed up to read and make sure it's realistic.

  19. I love the idea of reading challenges, but given my eclectic tastes find that it's easier to do them in an informal manner. I'm trying to read across a wider variety of genres, and to read more female authors and authors from minority backgrounds this year. :)

  20. Whoot! All the encouragement! I love it! I think a few of you hit it on the head. Too high of goals. I just started my first real job last year so I read about 72 books (pretty average for me). But then I was still in training, and so when I set my yearly goals I didnt think of how much time would be going to the work stuff.

    I think I will try and complete my TBR one. I can do it... I'll have to blog about it here though. haha

    And I totally made up the term "Competitive Reading" because I thought it sounded funny. And it would be a good conversation starter.


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