Ready for 2015: Reading Challenges

2015tbrbuttonHappy New Year! Last night the husband and I stayed in, cooked a nice dinner, drank a “special occasion” bottle of wine. A pretty good New Year’s Eve as far as I’m concerned!  Today I worked on getting the blog ready for the new year – updating links, cleaning up my TBR list, etc. I also posted my 2015 Challenges page.

My husband is shaking his head at the long list of books I’ve picked out for challenges in 2015. I read for enjoyment, true, but I also like to push myself, and challenges help me to bypass that tempting bestseller and reach for the classic sitting on my bookshelf. Truth is, books by authors like Faulkner intimidate the hell out of me, and that’s why I push myself.

For example, when I look at my 2014 TBR Pile list, 5 of the 10 books I read made my TOP TEN list of the year (Astray, Kindred, The Good Earth, Tell the Wolves I’m Home, and The Dovekeepers). And the others on the list were definite considerations. I wouldn’t have read one of my favorites, East of Eden, without The Classics Club.

I try to keep the number of challenges pretty small, but still feel pretty ambitious. At the same time I don’t expect to read everything I set out to, and I won’t feel TOO bad if I fall short. As always, I have no idea what will happen this year. I have five graduate classes to finish, and who knows how work will go.

In a way, it’s enough for me that I keep this blog growing. That’s a lot of work right there – and there’s so much more I want to do. I want to go to BEA this year. I want to be a better Twitter user. I want to write more about reading issues, not just reviews.

classicsclubThe more I blog, the more reading becomes an identity for me. As a child or a teenager, I was embarrassed by my need to read. It was an escape then, but today it’s something I’m proud of. Sometimes I feel caught between the work of blogging and the piles of books I just want to sit and read. So challenges are a good reminder of what I’m really here for.

Here’s a quick report on how I did with challenges last year:

  • The TBR Pile Challenge, hosted by Roof Beam Reader: I read 10 of the 12 books I was supposed to read. I didn’t get to Flight Behavior or Portrait of a Lady, so they go on next year’s list. I finished Far from the Madding Crowd, but didn’t get a review posted in 2014.around-the-world-2015
  •  The Around the World Challenge, hosted by Giraffe Days: I read books set in Ethiopia, India, China, Israel, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, England, Scotland, Denmark, Poland, Bosnia, and Canada. And the U.S., but as my home country that doesn’t count. As I said in an earlier post, I feel good about this list but wish the countries were a bit more diverse. And I missed the entire continent of South America.
  • The Classics Club is an ongoing challenge where you choose 50 classics to read from 2012-2017. In 2014, I read 7 books on my Classics Club list, which is pretty weak considering that two are children’s books and one I haven’t reviewed yet.

I’m continuing with all three of these challenges in 2015, and I’m adding two new challenges.

library challengeThe Readers to the Rescue Library Challenge, hosted by Book Journey, counts the number of books checked out from the library, including e-books.  Since I’ve been checking out a lot of books lately, that one’s easy.

backtotheclassics2015BUTTONThe Back to the Classics Challenge, hosted by Books and Chocolate, is a bit harder.  You have to read at least 6 of the following 12 categories. I’ve listed some ideas based my Classics Club reading list, but I don’t know how many of these I’ll actually get to.  Suggestions?

  1. A 19th Century Classic
  2. A 20th Century Classic (A Canticle for Liebowitz)
  3. A Classic by a Woman Author (Edith Wharton)
  4. A Classic in Translation (Anna Karenina, Les Miserables, The Three Musketeers)
  5. A Very Long Classic Novel (The Portrait of a Lady or Bleak House)
  6. A Classic Novella (We Have Always Lived in the Castle or The Turn of the Screw)
  7. A Classic with a Person’s Name in the Title (Jane Eyre or Kim or Oliver Twist)
  8. A Humorous or Satirical Classic (The Importance of Being Earnest or Cold Comfort Farm)
  9. A Forgotten Classic (Kim or A Light in August)
  10. A Nonfiction Classic
  11. A Classic Children’s Book
  12. A Classic Play

So those are my challenges for 2015!  What are you signing up for, or what are your goals for the new year?

  8 comments for “Ready for 2015: Reading Challenges

  1. January 1, 2015 at 7:26 pm

    I love reading challenges, although I mostly stick to Classics Club & the Goodreads Seasonal Reading Challenge (not that I will EVER read all the books in a seasonal challenge, EVER). I want to read more diversely this year, though, so I like the sound of the Around the World challenge–thanks for drawing my attention to it 🙂

  2. January 1, 2015 at 7:34 pm

    Have fun with the challenges! 🙂

  3. January 1, 2015 at 9:38 pm

    Wow, looks like you’ll have a pretty full year. I’m also doing the Classics Club (and also didn’t have a super productive 2014 in this case) and the TBR Pile Challenge. Challenges and read-alongs and book clubs and things are so much fun simply because talking to other people about books is so great! I also use these things as opportunities to discover new blogs and add to my ridiculous TBR list. The only other challenge I’m doing this year is Foodies Read ( which is pretty interest-specific and casual. Anyway, good luck with your challenges and Happy New Year!

    • January 2, 2015 at 6:20 pm

      Thanks for commenting! You’re right that challenges are ALSO good for connecting with other bloggers, though I’m not as successful with that. Foodies Read sounds great! I’ve actually been thinking about doing a couple of cookbook reviews, I got two in 2014 that were life-changers. Plus food-related books are always fun.

  4. January 2, 2015 at 12:07 pm

    I’m trying to keep it fairly easy and streamlined in 2015 with the goal of increasing the diversity of my reading. I read 29% diverse authors in 2014, so hopefully I can hit 40% in 2015! Cross your fingers, and good luck with all your challenges!

    • January 2, 2015 at 6:17 pm

      Thanks Andi! I’m curious how you define diverse, because I don’t always know the ethnicity of the author I’m reading. I’ve never tried to put a number to it but maybe I should.

  5. January 3, 2015 at 3:43 pm

    Best of luck with the challenges.

    I never can do them. Too stressful. 🙂

    Happy New Year!!

  6. January 3, 2015 at 10:50 pm

    Great post! Your feelings about challenges as a non-stressful way to push yourself and reading as a valuable part of your identity really resonate with me.

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