"Outside a dog a book is man's best friend, inside a dog it is too dark to read!" -Groucho Marx========="The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid." -Jane Austen========="I don’t believe in the kind of magic in my books. But I do believe something very magical can happen when you read a good book."-JK Rowling========"I spend a lot of time reading." -Bill Gates=========“Ahhh. Bed, book, kitten, sandwich. All one needed in life, really.” -Jacqueline Kelly=========

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Rethinking my reading challenges

Just a few thoughts today on reading challenges.

First, I have figured out a long time ago that reading challenges stress me out. I set myself up for the stress by joining the challenge, tell myself it is no big deal, then I feel the stress any way.

For me the best types of challenges are ones that are short termed like the Big Book Summer Challenge, Jane Austen in July, the Spooky October Books challenge or the Nonfiction November Challenge. These challenges have such short limits, one to three months, which helps me check my expectations. Usually I'll sign up to read one or two books for each and I'm good. But, and this is big but, if these challenges can add up. There's that stress again.

In an effort to "catch up" on books 'I should have read in the past', I often create my own personal challenges with long lists of books that nobody is talking about anymore. My personal Pulitzer Project is a case in point. I decided to read past winners of this award. I selected the books to place onto the list from the master list of winners. Of those books, I've read 40 (good) but still have 11 (bad) to go and I just can't seem to find the interest to read them. But, I ask myself, who cares? No one. 

Another bug-a-boo comes from confronting the changes in my life. As a teen librarian I read predominately YA titles and always tried to read as many YA book award winners each year as I could. Now that I am retired, I no longer need to know about current books to make recommendations to students.  Do I need to hang onto my personal Printz Award challenge? Probably not, but am I really ready to let go? It will feel like I am also letting go of friends at the same time, those people and bloggers I've met because we have YA books in common. 

Lastly, there is the Classics Club list. Originally I created a list of 50 classic book titles I wanted to read. Then I was supposed to work away on the list, finishing the list within 5 years. My problem was I was busier adding books to the list than reading them. Every time I'd come across some list of books everyone should read I would add to my list.  Over the years I've added and subtracted from the list with many of the original titles disappearing and other books taking their place. Currently there are over 96 titles on the list with over 40 left to read. I don't seem to be making much progress. Plus the last several books I've read off the list---So Big and Wide Sargasso Sea, specifically---I disliked. Hmm. Time to ditch the project altogether?

My plan going forward:

1. Stop the Printz Award Challenge. Read the winners if I want to but don't commit to reading them all. Time is up on me having to stay current on all things YA.

2. I just reviewed the Pulitzer Prize Challenge and crossed three books off my list, leaving only 8 titles left to go. That still sounds like a lot so I am going to review each one and may cross off a few more. Going forward perhaps what I will do is consolidate my "Award" challenges into one but I'm not sure that would really change anything.

3. I did the same thing for the Classics Club Challenge, culling the list down to 29 left to go. That sounds like so many books, but I really do want to read some of these old tomes and 29 is better than 40+. I also commit to NOT adding any more books to the list without first removing another one. Ha!



  1. You've come up with a good strategy and I hope it lessens your stress. I commit to reading my book club books but otherwise set no challenges for myself.

    1. I, too, am committed to reading and reviewing book club selections. Because that is 23 books in the year, it takes a pretty big bite out of my reading time, making it less likely that I will want to jump into a big classic or an award winner from a past decade.

  2. This is a great analysis of reading challenges. I love the idea of them and do feel that they guide my reading somewhat during the year. Some challenges (diversity) are easy for me, but others (reading in all the US states) are much more difficult and I never complete them. I have learned to be okay with that.

    I think it's great that you are revisiting your challenges to relieve stress. There is just no reason that reading and our love of books should add more anxiety to our lives!

    1. The other thing about joining challenges is it helps generate blog traffic and discourse on the book. If I read a book that no one is talking about anymore few people are willing to comment.

  3. Reading challenges can stress me out, too. It's why I haven't been doing very many of them lately. I'm only doing one this year, the Back to the Classics Challenge, and so far I'm hanging in with it. Usually I lose enthusiasm and stop trying about this time every year. Good luck with your new goals!

  4. A good strategy. I do very few challenges - I usually have one of my own going on per year, then I do nonfic November, 20 Books of Summer, into which I fold All Virago/All August, and try to do my friends Karen and Simon's year challenges twice-yearly (read a book from a particular year and review during a particular week). Ali has supplied me with books for her Daphne du Maurier week before now so I do that in May. Any others - Australia, Wales and Ireland book months, women in translation, etc., I will do if I can find a book on my TBR that fits. Ha - that sounds a lot now but I have steered clear of winners, Classics Club etc as they sound stressful!

  5. I think it's wise to rethink and revise things that aren't working as intended.


I look forward to your comments and interactions! Join in the conversation.