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!