Writers generally like to read, and with the distractions offered by WIPs, alternate media, work, and home life, it’s increasingly important to make time to read. Reading is good for your brain, it’s good for your writing, and reading is an opportunity to engage in something that’s quiet and peaceful to give your hind brain a chance to work on What Happens Next in your WIP.
One way to make time is to schedule your reading, both in terms of your day-to-day planning, whether on a calendar or a bullet journal, and what to read. A reading challenge is a simple way to plan what to read and schedule when to read it. A reading challenge can be as basic as the Goodreads Challenge, where you decide how many books you want to want to read in 2019 (from 1 to ???) and track your progress on the GoodReads site. But there are lots of other reading challenges (far more than I can cover here).
For AWers, there’s The 2019 AW Book Reading Challenge. This challenge is an annual event, created by AW members using a variety of categories. The goal is to pick 12 books, each of which fits one of the 50 categories. You read your books, and track them in the 2019 thread, and discuss them with other readers, if you’d like. There’s also the very active and venerable Absolute Write YA 100 Books challenge, which challenges you to read and list 100 (or 50 or 25) YA books you read during the year.
For the first time, in 2019 AW also has a Short Story Challenge. The goal is to read a pre-determined number of short stories in 2019, and track them in the thread. You can pick 52, one a week or whatever number works for you. There’s a lot of short fiction out there, a lot of it is free and on the web, so this is a great way to read more and to read differently than you might otherwise. Short stories make it easy to fit reading time into a busy schedule, and to try something by an author new to you.
Consider the 2019 Sirens Reading Challenge, with a goal of encouraging people to read fantasy by women and non-binary authors. This challenge is presented by the Sirens Conference, and the goal is to read 25 books from a list with several categories and many choices. There’s even a GoodReads Sirens discussion group for support.
BookRiot is again (for the fifth year) running their Read Harder Challenge for 2019; the idea behind it is to read 24 books that you might not ordinarily read; the idea being to push yourself by offering 24 “tasks” or different kinds of books. The goal, as BookRiot notes:
We encourage you to push yourself, to take advantage of this challenge as a way to explore topics or formats or genres that you otherwise wouldn’t try. But this isn’t a test. No one is keeping score and there are no points to post. We like books because they allow us to see the world from a new perspective, and sometimes we all need help to even know which perspectives to try out. That’s what this is—a perspective shift—but one for which you’ll only be accountable to yourself.
There’s a BookRiot Read Harder discussion group on GoodReads, if you’d like to follow along with others working on reading harder in 2019.
If, like me, you aren’t as familiar with Aussie books and authors as you’d like to be, you might be interested in the Aussie Author Challenge 2019. There are three levels of participation; Wallaby (3 books) Wallaroo (6 books), and Kangaroo (12). The various levels encourage you to read books from very broad categories (Australian women, Australian men, authors new to you, etc.). There are lots of suggested lists for locating books on the Aussie Author Challenge page, which means you could easily add an Aussie author to your own challenge.
Want something a little less theme-and-genre driven? Bookstr has you covered with reading challenges based on cover art color, geography, genre . . . all sorts of different ways to challenge and plan your 2019 reading.
POPSUGAR has a new 2019 50 book challenge, 40 books for their “regular” challenge with an optional additional ten books. There’s even a printed checklist and reading planner. There’s also a very active GoodReads POPSUGAR Reading Challenge discussion group.
And don’t forget there’s a wealth of public domain legal-to-download ebooks out there too, ranging from classic canon novels, to more recent works. This is especially handy for people wanting to participate in the Jane Austen Reading challenge or the Back To the Classics challenge.
You might want to check your local public library not only for book reccs, but because they may have their own book challenge. My local Seattle Library sponsors book bingo every summer. Bookish has regular monthly book bingo challenges; here’s the January Bookish Bingo challenge. Bookish is also running a year-long 2019 Kill Your TBR (your TBR can be a stack of To Be Read books, an ebook list, or audio books). There’s even a #killyourtbr hashtag.
I want to make a special mention of the LibraryThing 75 book challenge. LibraryThing is my personal favorite, by far, of the various book cataloging and social sites. The 75 Book Challenge description on LibraryThing says:
Anyone can join. Just start a thread and begin listing the books you have read in 2019. You don’t have to begin on January 1! Last year, some members just listed their titles and authors while others posted a mini-review of each book. It’s all up to you. It turns out we care less about the numbers than we do about the exchange of book info and the community of readers.
I’m barely skimmed the surface of all the book challenge opportunities; there are lots more, and there’s one to suit every reader. Why not find yours and start reading?