There’s always a lot of discussion among book bloggers about whether challenges are good (they encourage you to read more or better or just differently) or bad (they put stress on something that should be relaxing and fun). For me the key is not signing up for too many challenges. I like for challenges to push me to read more difficult or diverse books, and they also help to keep me from just reading whatever is flashy and new. Challenges are also a great way to engage with other bloggers.
I will say that 2015 is the first year I started feeling what bloggers call a “reading slump”. I committed to too many books, and then found I wasn’t enjoying reading as much. So in 2016 I want to be careful about that.
This year I participated in four challenges, and here’s where I ended up.
For the TBR Pile Challenge, hosted by Roof Beam Reader, you make a list of 14 books at the beginning of the year and you have to read 12 of them. These have to be books that you’ve wanted to read for at least a year (no recent releases). I completed this challenge. Sadly, RBR will not be hosting this challenge next year, but I appreciate all the time he’s put into it over the years!
- Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
- The Humans by Matt Haig
- Plainsong by Kent Haruf
- The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri
- Breath, Eyes, Memory by Edwidge Danticat
- Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout
- The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness
- The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James
- Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver
- Time and Again by Jack Finney
- The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien
- Caleb’s Crossing by Geraldine Brooks
The Around the World Challenge, hosted by Giraffe Days, asks you to read books set in other parts of the world. I needed to read 12 books over the course of the year set in a different country. I read and reviewed at least 13 books set in different countries (I didn’t include the U.K.). I covered most of the continents, but I did not read a book set in South America.
- Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Nigeria — Africa)
- The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henriquez (Mexico, Panama — North America)
- Faceless Killers by Henning Mankell (Sweden — Europe)
- Breath, Eyes, Memory by Edwidge Danticat (Haiti — North America)
- The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri (India — Asia)
- All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr (Germany, France — Europe)
- Redeployment by Phil Klay (Iraq and Afghanistan — Middle East)
- Us by David Nicholls (Europe)
- The Constable’s Tale (Canada — North America)
- A Tale for the Time Being (Japan — Asia)
- Girl at War (Croatia — Europe)
- The Secret River (Australia)
- The Things They Carried (Vietnam — Asia)
The Book Blog Discussion Challenge by Feed Your Fiction Addiction is for writing posts about reading and blogging. I really enjoyed this challenge and will definitely participate in 2016.
- How do you use Twitter?
- BEA Bloggers Conference, should I go?
- How authors get paid for different book formats
- Should book bloggers write book reviews?
- Choosing books – when reading starts to feel like a chore.
- Top ten bad book reviewing habits
- What do you NOT write about on your blog?
- Did these books live up to the hype?
The Back to the Classics Challenge, hosted by Books and Chocolate, asks you read at least six of the following categories. I completed books in these six categories:
- A 19th Century Classic (Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy)
- A 20th Century Classic (We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson)
- A Classic by a Woman Author (House of Mirth by Edith Wharton)
- A Very Long Classic Novel (The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James)
- A Classic Novella (The Turn of the Screw by Henry James
- A Humorous or Satirical Classic (Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons)
I also continued to work towards my list of 50 classic books for The Classics Club. Some of the books listed here count towards that challenge too.
So how did you do this year on your challenges? And how do you feel about challenges in general? Do they help you read more, or better? Or do they just put stress on something you really want to enjoy?
What will you be signing up for in 2016?