Since reading is for your personal enjoyment, you may feel as if setting a reading challenge for yourself this year is a misguided attempt to return to your school days. However, with January resolutions now disregarded in a forgotten gym membership, reading challenges can be effective ways of setting small goals for yourself and encourage you to read more.
Read around the world
The best book challenges are those that aim to help us discover books that we would not normally have thought of reading, and that startle us into creating new conclusions on the world around us. Reading Around the World is one of the best book challenges for reading widely- as well as choosing your next holiday destination. Although this is a particularly lengthy challenge, the commitment involved will allow you to unearth a brilliant host of translated fiction that are not well-known in the West, as well as learning about new cultures, their traditions and their everyday life. Due to this challenge’s length, you should start by writing a list, or even an excel sheet, of each country and then conducting a search for a book from each country before you begin. Social platforms such as Goodreads have lists by country where you will be able to find the books that you need, and it may also be beneficial to join book-related Facebook groups, which have members from all around the world who may be able to help you with your quest.
The Popsugar challenge is popular with readers; this challenge is based on monthly prompts, allowing you to have some control over the books you read. For instance, even if the prompt is to read a “romance novel”, you can either pick up a Mills and Boon special, or opt for a gory action adventure with just a hint of star-crossed love. This year, the prompts include ‘A book becoming a movie in 2019’, and ‘A book written by two female authors’, which focus both on relevant social issues and connect with what your own interests throughout the year may be.
Popsugar has created a Goodreads group for interested parties, where you can find a buddy read, or simply follow others during their own challenges.
United states of books
The United States of Books challenge was established by Penguin last year. The challenge focuses on reading one book set in or written by an author who lived in all fifty states, and you can do this in alphabetical order or by geographical location. Although it was not created for 2019, the list remains relevant for 2019 and can be updated as you choose. In fact, there are many variations that you can make on the original list. The main three options that you can use to follow the challenge are: Classic Novels, Modern Classics and Contemporary Fiction. Whether you want to discover the key texts behind every state, or simply see what life is like in each state from a contemporary angle, you can change this challenge to suit your reading habits.
This challenge is perfect for all those seeking the American Dream, and all those who are fascinated by all things American, as this challenge is directly catered to a specific interest for a particular country. However, why not use the basics of this challenge for your own country, by country or region instead?
— Penguin Random House (@penguinrandom) January 11, 2018
The goodreads reading challenge
The Goodreads Reading Challenge is the most personalisable, and the most relaxed, challenge on this list. All you have to do is state how many books you want to read this year, and post each book that you read on your Goodreads account. If you get halfway through the year and realise you have been too swamped down in deadlines and work to meet your challenge, you can also edit this at any time, making this a non-committal and relaxing option for those you want a challenge without the pressures that come with it. Additionally, any books you read, including graphic novels and poetry books, count towards your goal, making this easily manageable for whatever type of reader you are.
Build your own!
Whether you want to demolish your to-be-read pile or devour each month’s best debut reads, there is ample opportunity to develop your own challenges based on your own goals and interests. These can be based on anything, but a couple of the best ones include reading 52 books for the 52 weeks in 2019 (although you may already be behind on this!) and reading the books that you meant to read in 2018. Building your own challenges are perfect for those that want flexibility or cannot find a challenge that they like. However, you should still attempt to ensure that your challenge is full of the elements of a good book challenge: unlikely reads, new authors and diversity.