Bring it on, 2016 Reading Challenges!

For the last six weeks, I’ve sort of been obsessing over which reading challenges I will do in 2016. I was particularly interested in checklist-style challenges, such as “read a book written by an African American,” “read a book retelling a fairy tale,” etc. I like my challenges to give me a little “guidance” but not to tell me to read specific books. I also don’t like the ones that are a little too open, such as, “Read six books in ABC genre.”

Well, I am officially DONE seeking these challenges as I am now overwhelmed with more than I can possibly tackle in a year.* (Maybe I should move to a planet where the years are longer?) I decided on three challenges, which will total 88 books. Since I usually read 100 books in a year, this seems doable while still giving me a little bit of wiggle room to stray from the challenges.

So, without further ado, I am planning to tackle

  1. The Goodreads Around the Year in 52 Books Challenge (52 books) – Because I am excited by many of the categories, it has a good amount of variety and flexibility, AND it comes attached to a handy Goodreads group as a resource, which includes suggested books for almost every week if you get stumped. That will really help me for some of the genres I don’t read much, such as the top 100 mystery books list.
  2. The Into the Forest 2016 Reading Challenge (12 books) – Because I am a member of the Into the Forest group on Goodreads, and have enjoyed the community there immensely. Into the Forest is focused on fairy tales, myths, and legends, so this whole challenge list is centered on that genre. Since it’s one of my favorite genres, this challenge ensures that I’ll have these types of books sprinkled throughout the whole year.
  3. The Book Riot Read Harder Challenge (24 books) – Because it’s got the coolest name, and because I like Book Riot’s mission of pushing people to read beyond what is bestseller and/or mainstream.

I plan to tackle the challenges roughly in order, but to be flexible when the opportunity arises, such as if one of my book club books fits an item further down the list. I haven’t decided yet whether I’ll allow a single book to fulfill items on more than one list.

I also passed up on a few very tasty challenges in case someone else might be interested:

  • The Popsugar Reading Challenge – I felt bad for passing on this one because I waited for it FOREVER. But its categories just didn’t excite me as much as the Goodreads 52 books one did.
  • The BookaShelf Reading Challenge – This was the first reading challenge I found this year, and it’s got some really fun items on it (like a book with a cat on the cover, or a book about water). But it also had some items that would be pretty hard, such as finding a book about a character with the same name as you, or a book where no one gets killed — how would you know before reading it?
  • The Anna’s Nook Reading Challenge – This one came to my attention after I had already chosen to do the three challenges above, or it would have been a serious contender. I was a little intimidated by the specificity of some of these items, such as reading a book that was originally written in a “minor” language or reading books your mom and dad liked at your age. Since I try to satisfy as many challenge items as possible from my own collection, this one seemed the challenge most likely to require me to go beyond my own bookshelves.
  • I also ultimately passed on the Color-Coded Challenge and What’s In a Name because they weren’t substantial enough for me.

What’s kind of ironic is that the reason most of these challenges exist is to push people to read more WIDELY than they usually would, to encourage them to step outside their comfort zone, etc. But my own reading tastes are so eclectic (a Goodreads librarian once told me that looking at my book list gave him ‘whiplash’) that I use these challenges to NARROW my reading scope. Because I am addicted to those library booksales where you can fill a grocery bag for $5, as well as bookswapping sites, I have amassed far more books than I’ll ever be able to read (at my current rate, if I didn’t buy ANY more (ha ha ha), I could possibly read through my collection in 10 years.) So when it comes time to choose a new book to read (one of my favorite things to do EVER), I get overwhelmed if I have to consider my whole collection. It helps to have a “system” in place to focus me, and in the last couple years I’ve found reading challenges fill that role quite nicely.

What about you? Will you be participating in any reading challenges this year? Leave a comment with your 2016 reading plans!

*Special thanks to Xxertz, who alerted me to many of these challenges in a comments thread on my earlier post.