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?
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- Group Book – Otherworld by Jason Segel and Kristen Miller (decided to skip this one)
- Read a sequel – A Gathering of Shadows by V. E. Schwab
- Read a book you’ve never heard of before – Murder, Magic and What We Wore by Kelly Jones (Mackenzie Lee recommended it in this video)
- Read a book about mental illness – The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman (a short story, but it counts, okay?)
- 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)
- Read a book under 200 pages – The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (the original is in French, but I’m reading the English translation)
- Read a backlist title – The Little Prince (based on JessetheReader’s recommendation)
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!
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.