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Wednesday, November 4, 2015

The Challenge of Challenges

For the past several years, I’ve done my best to participate in reading challenges. At the end of 2014, I told myself that this year would be different, that I would finally stay on top of my reading challenges and actively work to complete them. To that end, I only signed up for three: Dive Into Diversity, Hail to the King, and that old standby, the Goodreads challenge.

I think the only one I’m on track with is Goodreads, and only because it’s as easy as tracking what books I’ve read.

This year was better than most, and I definitely worked specifically hard to keep up with the Dive Into Diversity Challenge, because I really need to expand my literary horizons. I’ve done okay, but not as well as I had wanted or intended. And, utterly shockingly, I’ve been totally failing at the Stephen King challenge—I’ve only read a couple new-to-me Stephen King books this year, and my goal was 16.


 It seems like my biggest issue this year was that, of the 50 books I planned to read this year, over half of them were accounted for by the other two challenges, and I am absolutely a mood reader—it’s really hard for me to stick to a schedule, or make myself read something that I’m not totally in the mood for.

I know there are tons and tons of challenges out there, and it’s not really a challenge unless it’s, you know, challenging. I used to do yearly Reading Resolutions, but I feel into the same trap where I had accounted for almost all 50 of my yearly books (that number usually stays pretty much the same) with very little room for things that come up throughout the year—new releases, gifts, etc—that I want to read more spontaneously.

But on the other hand, challenges are such a great way to expand horizons and meet other bloggers (not that I’ve been so great about the reporting-back part of the challenges, either). I would hate to give up on them completely, because they really do help with ideas for things to read.

Anyway, I guess what I’m asking is: what challenges have you been successful with? Which ones have been your favorites to complete? How do you keep track of them—and how do you remember to keep up with the check-up posts that the challenge creators put up periodically? Are there any that you’ve never tried but maybe want to try this year? Are there any others that you’ve done before and wouldn’t do again? Why? 

23 comments:

  1. I love to read and read a lot! But I am not interested in reading challenges, except ones I give myself. Since I discovered Anthony Trollope this year I have read 7 of his books and look forward to reading an eighth by him.

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  2. Other then the Goodreads challenge, I donʻt do any challenges at all. And I primarily do the goodreads one just to keep track of all the books that I read over the year, not really to meet a certain goal. I toyed with the idea of doing a reading challenge because they can expand reading horizons, but I also feel like they can be a bit debilitating as well.

    I appreciate a good challenge, but reading ones just arenʻt for me!

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  3. I've been horrible at my challenges too. I always pick ones that interest me and that I think I can do such as mysteries, romances, paranormals, etc. It seems that I can never finish them though. I sign up for a mystery and my mood is romance for the majority of the year. Or I sign up for an eBook challenge and I end up reading a lot of print books. It just never seems to work out the way I want.

    As for keeping up, I make a special page on my blog for my challenges and I go back every month and update. I include the challenge, the button, a brief description and my goal. I link back to the original post so others can sign up. It seems to work out pretty well for me.

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  4. I try so hard to have a schedule of reading and stuff I want to get round to, for challenges or not, but I can never stick to it! Like you, I'm a mood reader in many ways. The mood might not even make sense, but I have to feel like reading whatever it is!

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  5. Rading challenges are not my thing. They sound fun in the beginning, but then I feel too restricted in my choice of books. I'm an impulsive and spontaneous reader. Goodreads is the only challenge I take. Set a more or less realistic goal for yourself and you're good to go.

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  6. I finished my Goodreads challenge, and one other, but failed the rest. I think for 2016 I'm just going to make some vague goals for myself and pass on all challenges except the Goodreads one. I'll probably move the marker from 52 to 60 (I seem to read about 60 to 70 in a year), but that's it. Challenges are good for opening up my reading horizons, but I think I need a year off.

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  7. I'm doing Modern Mrs Darcy's reading challenge, and I'm finding it pretty easy to keep up with because it's 12 categories, so you still have flexibility to choose your book within the category. I haven't always finished my books within the assigned months, but I've gotten through 10 so far.

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  8. I don't do many challenges. This year I'm almost done with the "2015 Reading Challenge", the scavenger hunt with 50 different categories. Last year (2014) I did a Great War theme in which I read one book about the Great War every month, and at the same time I was doing a "To Be Read Takedown Challenge", where I barred myself from buying anything new until I'd read a pile of books a dozen strong that I'd bought and then lost most interest in.

    For the scavenger hunt and the TBR challenge I maintained a separate page on my blog with the full list, and I'd "strike through" an item once I'd finished it.

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  9. I love challenges! For 2016 I'm going to be doing an insane genre one. We'll see how that goes lol.

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  10. Honestly, the only challenge that I will always stick to is the Goodreads Reading Challenge :D I am a mood reader, too, and I cannot participate in any challenges that are about reading one genre exclusively. It only send me into very long reading slumps when I'm forced to read the same genre. TBR challenges aren't really my thing either, again, the mood reader thing.

    - Jen @ The Bookavid

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  11. Honestly, the only challenge that I will always stick to is the Goodreads Reading Challenge :D I am a mood reader, too, and I cannot participate in any challenges that are about reading one genre exclusively. It only send me into very long reading slumps when I'm forced to read the same genre. TBR challenges aren't really my thing either, again, the mood reader thing.

    - Jen @ The Bookavid

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  12. Challenges aren't usually my cup of tea... I tend to just stick to the Goodreads Reading Challenge, like you said, because it's easy. And even then, I'm falling behind, after being 8 books ahead of my goal at one point back in August - curse you, college! - so that's giving me some seriously unnecessary stress. We'll see how it all turns out in December, I guess.

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  13. Being new to this, I'd signed up for a few challenges, but I'm not doing so well with them. I read a lot, so I wind up doing them backwards. Instead of saying, "Okay, next I'm going to read a book with an orange cover, and then one by a debut author," I look back over what I've read and say, "Hm, which of these has orange covers or was an author's first book?" Which is kind of pointless, really.
    Last year we had a schoolwide challenge that I was determined to win--not that it was a contest in most people's minds. I read more books than I had in quite awhile, so I upped my GR challenge to 200 books. I include MG novels and graphic novels in my count, so I'm on track. I like the idea of challenges, but I will probably not participate next year.

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  14. I only signed up for two challenges...but they were challenges I already do a lot of/was going to do personally anyways. I did Flights of Fantasy and the Library Challenge. Next year I'm going to find a re-reading challenge since I'm totally in the mood for that anyways!

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  15. I only signed up for two challenges...but they were challenges I already do a lot of/was going to do personally anyways. I did Flights of Fantasy and the Library Challenge. Next year I'm going to find a re-reading challenge since I'm totally in the mood for that anyways!

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  16. I'm really bad at reading challenges too - not because I don't read enough, I just seem to be unable to keep track of it! I'm still yet to complete the goodreads challenge because of this too! x

    www.zoecoco.com

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  17. Reading challenges are super hard to moody readers! I've struggled with that at times when I do some of the monthly challenges that are pretty specific about what books to read.
    For the most part, I am doing 3 general challenges (GoodReads, Sequel/Prequel and Everything YA). I picked them because they are pretty nonspecific and nearly every book I read counts for them. Which is why I have met my goal for GoodReads and the Sequel/Prequel challenge.
    But like you said, doing specific challenges forces you to try other things and that's really appealing to me as I think about what challenges I might sign up for next year!

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  18. I love the idea of challenges but over the past few years I realise that I almost never achieve the goals I set for exactly the same reasons as you outlined.
    This year I decided to be more laissez faire in my approach. That is not worry about the end goals but just join in because I love the fun & community of challenges.
    So I only read one Austen for Austen in August. I only read one book for the Japanese lit challenge and only one for RIP. I did the NY challenge with Book Journey and I'm planning on doing the Harry Potter reread - I may only one or two but that's okay. Whereever the mood takes me :-)
    I hope this helps.

    The challenges are fun and can help extend your reading but if you get caught up in have to's and should's it stops being fun and becomes a chore. And reading should never be a chore :-)
    Participation is the key I think not some arbitrary end goal.

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  19. I like the 50 States challenge, because it makes me read out of my comfort zone. But if I read 50 books a year, then I'd make it an ongoing thing and try to knock of 5 new states each year. That would mean you'd have at lot of leeway in choosing what you want while also encouraging you to look outside your usual books.

    For example, I read a book on the culture of giant-pumpkin growing set in Rhode Island that was fascinating but I only read because RHODE ISLAND, and I've found good examples of cosy bookshop murder books (a genre I had made fun of before reading one set in Indiana). But the years I took it seriously meant that I would hole myself up in my house in the last days of the year and frantically read ANYTHING that fit; a more relaxed approach is much more pleasant.

    So I look for challenges to that encourage me to read a bit more widely, without turning reading into a chore.

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  20. I have a separate page on my blog where I update my challenges fairly regularly. By setting up a separate page, it makes it hard to forget. This year, I was most successful with the New Authors Challenge and The Library Challenge. I also enjoyed Jazz Age January because it was only a 1 month commitment. Good luck in 2016!

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  21. I have the most success with the short term challenges that are a month long, like R.I.P. or Nonfiction November. If I have to keep track of a challenge all year long I can put off reading for it because I will get to "those" books later. I do the Goodreads challenge but the manipulate the number up or down if I see things going badly or really well. So it really isn't a challenge but jus a way to keep track of reading.

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  22. ld hardas
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