Discussion Post: Let’s Talk About Reading Challenges (+ Winter BiBib TBR)

Countless people in the bookish community challenge themselves each year in terms of the number of books they plan to read, the kind of books they want to read or just cross off items on lists they have created for themselves. The start of the year is a good time to reflect on the sort of reading year you’d like to have and I’ve read several posts telling which reading challenges they’d like to enter over the course of the year. I participated in the Summer Biannual Bibliothon and BookTube-A-Thon in July as well as the House Cup Reading Challenge in October last year. However, this does not seem to be everyone’s cup of tea. Let’s explore how reading challenges have influenced the book community, shall we?

Discussion_ Reading Challenges

Back when I was oblivious to the existence of Goodreads, I’d never heard of people putting a number on the books they wanted to read. Before I started blogging, I did not know any reading challenge besides the Goodreads one even took place. It was only last year that I discovered read-a-thons through Twitter. The funny thing though is that I still managed to read quite a lot in the past. I started thinking about the necessity of any kind of reading challenge when I was trying to explain to a friend what the Goodreads one was all about. How did bibliophiles come up with the idea for these in the first place?

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For many people around the world, reading is more than a hobby. It might be their source of income, a passion they truly want to achieve something in or basically their whole entire life, and where there’s an interest, there’s a scope for setting goals. If you can be specific enough to decide the amount of kilos you intend to shed, why not quantify your reading? Declaring to the world that you intend to read a certain number of books helps you incorporate reading into your daily life, stay motivated throughout the year, gives you something to look forward to and may even sometimes cure your reading slump. For those people who are just starting off with reading, it really helps to have a number to work towards so that it can become a habit you grow to enjoy.

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Reading challenges are not restricted to just some numeric value though. Popular websites or media outlets publish a list of books that you need to read in the current year, before you die, before you turn a certain age, etc. Many people attempt to get through the list in the given time frame, which is a great way to ensure you’re reading good quality too as most of the ones on there will be classic, award-winning, critically acclaimed or popular books. Challenges hosted by influencers in the bookish community offer different kinds of challenges, whether it be helping you conquer your TBR, catch up on backlist titles or ARCs. They can even be genre-based or prompt-based ones. Many of them let the participant choose their own books that fit into the guidelines of the challenge. Personally, I prefer the Goodreads challenge so I can make up my mind to read consistently throughout the year and reading challenges hosted by bloggers/YouTubers that let me pick whatever I want to read.

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As with anything, there’s a flip side to all this. I’ve read or watched some people talk about how they are not participating in the Goodreads challenge or lowering their goal significantly this year because it can be strenuous trying to achieve it, which makes reading almost a chore. That’s a position no book lover wants to find themselves in. Additionally, one may pick up books they’d generally not gravitate towards just to fulfill their goal and not end up enjoying it. I lowered my goal on Goodreads this year as well for the same reasons.

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So are reading challenges good or evil, ultimately? The answer really depends on the individual. If you firmly believe that your reading should be unfettered and without any concrete sense of direction, you may, of course, choose not to participate in any reading challenge. Forcing yourself to take part in anything just because everyone else is doing it is never a good idea. Overestimating how much you can achieve as your reading speed may be below the “average” is also a big no-no. Nobody should be judging your reading. Read only as much as you feel comfortable with and only the books you’re genuinely interested in. However, it’s a good way to read along with others in the community, try to match books on your TBR to the challenge prompts, interact with other book lovers and make lasting friends. As for myself, I’ll continue to do them as long as it remains enjoyable to me.

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Since my participation last year, I fell in love with the idea as well as the hosts of the Biannual Bibliothon. I had made up my mind to do it again both the times in 2018, providing my schedule allows for it. Thankfully, I’ll have enough free time during the week of the Bibliothon, so I’m thrilled to officially announce that I’ll be taking part in the Winter Biannual Bibliothon of 2018 (taking place from January 20th-26th). Now onto what I’ve planned to read for the Bibliothon. Some are mentioned twice but that’s because you’re allowed to double up on challenges, which is super helpful.

  1. Group Book Otherworld by Jason Segel and Kristen Miller (decided to skip this one)
  2. Read a sequelA Gathering of Shadows by V. E. Schwab
  3. Read a book you’ve never heard of beforeMurder, Magic and What We Wore by Kelly Jones (Mackenzie Lee recommended it in this video)
  4. Read a book about mental illnessThe Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman (a short story, but it counts, okay?)
  5. Read a book that was mentioned in another book/movie/show etc.The Yellow Wallpaper (mentioned in the DIY MFA book I’d review on my old blog)
  6. Read a book under 200 pagesThe Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (the original is in French, but I’m reading the English translation)
  7. Read a backlist titleThe Little Prince (based on JessetheReader’s recommendation)

Winter BiBib 2018 TBR

I have a feeling I’m going to love all of them and have a fun time reading with a whole bunch of fellow book dragons. Also note that I’ll be doing the blog challenges as well, so you’ll be getting a new post form me every single day from January 20th-26th. I hope you’re counting down the days!


Comments

What is your opinion about reading challenges – yay or nay? Are you participating in any this year? Do you have a Goodreads goal, and if yes, what have you set it at? Have you read any of the books I’ve mentioned in this post and loved (or hated) them? Let me know in the comments section below.

36 thoughts on “Discussion Post: Let’s Talk About Reading Challenges (+ Winter BiBib TBR)

  1. I’m also taking part in the Winter Biannual Bibliothon! My TBR post for that is coming this monday though haha.
    You make some great points about reading challenges, for me personally I seem to be an inconsistent reader. And by that I mean I can go a month only reading 2 books and then the next month I read over 10 books. It’s something I’m attempting to change to try and become more consistent, mainly because the times where I’m not reading it can send me into a bit of a downer. My goodreads goal this year is 100…only because last year I read 75 books and exceeded my goal of 25. So this year I’m hoping to read 100 books, and I’m also taking part in several reading challenges and some read-a-thons if I have time.
    Like you said though, reading should never become a chore, we should be enjoying our reading and if we’re not then something needs to change. Loved the post though!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, Chloe! Looking forward to your TBR. 🙂

      I thought I was a consistent reader, but I’m slumping badly at the moment, so I’m a bit thrown. I think the Winter BiBib will help me come out of that. This is why reading challenges are amazing, in my personal opinion. 🙂

      I did a 100 last year and it was great fun. I just know that this year I won’t have as much time, hence the decrease. I love that you’re pushing yourself as a reader each year. Good luck! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. No worries and December 2017 I was in one of my worst reading slumps ever! Broke my heart that did, totally agree. Reading challenges are a great way to motivate yourself and you get to do the reading you want to do. Yeah…last year it was at 25 because I had my GCSE’s going on and I didn’t think I’d have time. It seems I found time haha

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      2. Yay! Good to know you made it out. I’m going to take inspiration from you and see where my reading takes me. 🙂 Well, if the books are really good, it’s physically impossible to put them down, so we can always create the time for it. 😉

        Liked by 1 person

      3. aha if the books really good I find we often forget what time it is, it happened to me the other week as I was reading my second book of the year. I looked up and it was gone 11pm, I sat in shock wondering where the time went haha. That is the beauty of a well written book, when it makes you forget reality.

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  2. This is super interesting – I’m doing Book Riot’s Read Harder, plus Beat the Backlist this year, but there are so many interesting challenges out there. I hope your Bibliothon goes well, and that you enjoy The Yellow Wallpaper – we read it at school years ago and it’s stayed with me ever since!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ooh, I hadn’t heard of Read Harder. A lot of people seem to be doing Beat the Backlist though. I think the way that my 2018 TBR is designed, it has quite a lot of backlist titles, but I don’t have time to take part in the actual challenge. 🙁 I want to do one of the diversity bingos though. I should research about that soon so it’s not too late to join in.
      Thank you! 🙂 I know that it’s the sort of story that messes with your head while shining the spotlight on mental health and I’m totally here for it. 😁

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  3. Beware Of The Reader

    Well I have a love/hate relationship with reading challenges or challenge in general. I think my worklife just puts enough pressure not to add other challenges and yet.. I entered the GR challenge (just 100 books compared with the 250 I used to read before blogging) and a blogger friend enroled me in a monthly challenge for 2018 . But reading must stay fun!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, I completely understand how worklife can affect your reading. I read 70 books before joining work and only 30 later, both of them in 6 months each. 100 is still a mighty goal, I hope you accomplish it! 🙂 Just out of curiosity, what monthly challenge are you taking part in?

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Great post Nandini! I am doing many challenges this year- Popsugar reading challenge, A to Z reading challenge, Beat the Backlist and off course Goodreads challenge. But the thing is I never force myself to complete those. It just that I read a book first and then see if that fit into any prompt or not. In this way, I don’t feel like being pressured and I enjoy them.

    I have to admit that because of the reading challenges last year I was able to push myself and read 56 books towards my goal of 50 books which otherwise I though unachievable

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sorry I clicked the reply button in between 😜 so I was saying that they actually helped me to get my goals. Another thing is because of those challenges I actually discovered and read some books last year which otherwise I would have never read like Letters from Skye, The Erotic Stories of Punjabi Windows etc.

      So yes there are definitely good for me but I never stress out myself because of those.

      This year too I have goal of 50 books 😊

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It’s so good to hear that reading challenges helped you accomplish your bookish goals. The ones you’re participating in sound like a lot of fun! I like your approach towards these challenges and how you don’t pressurize yourself. That’s the kind of healthy mindset that helps keep reading the fun hobby that it is for most of us. I chose some books to read for challenges last year that I wouldn’t have otherwise too and some of them became my absolute favourites! I’m so thankful to the creators of the challenges for giving me that experience. 🙂
        Haha, I’ve accidentally hit reply so many times wrongly before too. 🙈 I get it. Thanks for taking the time to finish your comment. It was really nice to hear your thoughts on this. 😊

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Almost everyone has mentioned Beat the Backlist and I’m low-key feeling left out. 😂 Yup, that’s the downside to most reading challenges. I like the flexibility that the Goodreads challenge allows. Of course some published material is still not countable under it, but it’s still my favourite. 🙂

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  5. Your post was really interesting! I love reading challenges, I really love them and usually I found myself involved in tons of them! I love especially the challenges that makes you scavenge for the right title (like challenges in wich you have some categories to follow: a book with an artist character, with a blue cover, with magic in it, set in the past etc..) because I have great difficulties when I finish a book and want to start a new one… usually I’ll say “I have nothing to read!” and that’s the most untrue thing that I can say, tbh, but I say it often because I simply can choose… but with the reading challenges it’s really easy to decide my next reading! And I love them for this thing.
    But this year I’ve tried to tone it down a notch because follow all of them can be demanding and I am in need to a relaxing year 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Reading challenges are the best thing for indecisive readers because of the reasons you mentioned. They’ve helped me prioritise my reading as well. Usually I’ve so many that I can’t seem to decide which to read first. 😅
      You should definitely put self-care above everything. I hope you have a more relaxed yet wonderful reading year! Thanks for sharing your opinion! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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  7. I’m participating in a reading challenge (Popsugar) for the first time. I really liked the topics and figured it will be a good way to get out of my comfort zone and discover books i might not have come across otherwise.

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  8. I looove reading challenges, but that’s pretty much a given since I can be a pretty competitive person and I like challenging myself? Reading challenges are perfect for that.. And it’s immediately why I have monthly reading challenges on my blog as well; they simply motivatie me to read and keep reading.
    Sooo, of course I have a Goodreads goal, haha. I managed to read 167 books last year – I still can’t figure out how since I only started really reading in June or something – so I put this year’s on 150. Didn’t feel like upping it any more than I already had last year [I started with 50] and I want to see how a whole year of reading looks like for me.

    Schwab’s books are on my TBR! I bought all three of them but haven’t read them yet. Definitely going to since I know they’re about London and I LOVE London, haha.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love to challenge myself as well. 167 books is just awesome! Congrats! Since Goodreads goal is just a number, I like to keep my expectations low and exceeding them, lol. Hope you get to achieve your 150 without breaking a sweat! 🙂

      I’m definitely going to finish A Darker Shade of Magic trilogy and then we shall see. I hope I love it as much as everyone else and that you do too! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you! That’s true. It’s fun to reach that high of a goal, but to me it’s a bit more important to broaden my reading to genres I don’t usually pick up and maybe find some favorites in those genres. We all want to grow, even as readers, no?

        Ooh, awesome! I think I’ll be bingeing those at some point. Or I hope I will since it’s either that or read the first installment and then procrastinate on reading the rest, haha.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Yes, definitely! 🙂 I also plan to push myself out of my comfort zone this year. I’m trying more sci-fi even though I’m a sworn fantasy person. I also want to try adult books rather than sticking to YA.
        It has a great first book, so I’m sure you’ll feel like continuing on. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  9. I’m not actively participating in any reading challenges… thought I did sign up for the Goodreads 2018 challenge for the fun of it. I put in 50 books – which I *should* be able to beat, since I’ve read about 60 books the past two years. 😉 Otherwise, I focus more on sticking to a reading plan, where for every book I read that was published in 2018, I’ll read at least one older book and one “market research” book that’s connected to my WIP (magical realism, mental health, and/or college-age protagonists, all preferably YA). That way, I focus more on variety and enjoying my reading time rather than the ambition of goal-reaching.

    So if you’re planning to read A Gathering of Shadows, that means you’ve read A Darker Shade of Magic, yes? And what did you think of it? Do tell. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s a great reading plan! Sometimes challenges can be too limiting, so being able to choose what you want to read throughout the year is definitely a good thing. 🙂
      I really liked A Darker Shade of Magic! I think it was a great start to a series. I can’t wait to explore the world further as I’ve heard that it only grows more complex and expands in the next two books. I’m planning to start it next week after I’m done moving in. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I used to love joining challenges like the one you mentioned, but lately I feel like those specific challenges limits my reading too much, and I don’t like specifically picking up/buying a book just for a challenge and realizing it’s not what I’m into. So for me I’m just focusing on my Goodreads reading goal, and making my own goals for the year that I feel like I’m going to reach, like reading more non fiction or rereading more old favourites.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, luckily for me I had a really good reading year last year and picked books I really enjoyed for the challenges that I did. But it can just as easily backfire, I’m aware. It’s good that you’re defining your own goals. I hope you accomplish them all! 🙂
      Yes to re-reading! I also plan to do more of that this year, although it’s not an actual goal. I just get into the mood of revisiting some old favourites once in a while. I’ll be sure to check out your post! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Olivia-Savannah

    I think reading challenges work for some people and don’t work for some other people. For some people it’s really motivating and makes them read more. But for some it’s really stressful, makes them focus too much on numbers and takes away from the enjoyment of reading. I know that some people binge read all through December to catch up! When I started book blogging I joined ALL THE CHALLENGES and now I join none 😛

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