2021 Reading Challenge

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Are you ready for 2021 reading? As book lovers, it’s always fun to look ahead to our reading plans for the year. Whether you’re excited about new releases, looking forward to books you received as gifts, or looking to take on a new reading challenge, a new year always feels like a fresh start.

This has never been more true than at the start of 2021, when we are all eager to leave behind a year of stress, uncertainty, and upheaval.

Maybe you’ve been reading through it all and just need a new challenge, or maybe you’re hoping for something to power you through what (we hope) are the last months of isolation.

Whatever you’re looking for, it may not be the same as another reader. So this year, I propose a new challenge:


So this year, I challenge you to really think about what you want to add to your reading life. Then start mapping out your challenge.

 Grab the Reading Challenge Bundle to get started!

Preview of the Reading Challenge Bundle

Get the FREE Reading Challenge Bundle

Grab your bundle and start planning your custom reading challenge!


Use the brainstorm sheet in the bundle to jot down anything that’s been in the back of your mind with regard to reading.

  • Books you’ve been meaning to read
  • Authors or genres you’ve wanted to try
  • Goals you want to meet

When it comes to goals, take some time to think about this: What’s something that’s been missing in your reading that would make it better for you?

If diving into War and Peace would truly make reading better for you at this moment in the world, by all means!

If reading more about social justice and systemic racism would spur you to action and understanding, and if you haven’t already been taking on this work, PLEASE include this in your challenge.

But if you’re feeling a little world-weary, anxious, and unable to take on anything else that’s difficult, please consider that as well.

Honoring those last feelings can be a challenge in itself, and again, I want your challenge to make reading better for you, this yearGet the FREE bundle now >>


Choose one overall theme for the year, one per month, or even one per week. It’s up to you! The list of ideas in the bundle can get you started, so be sure to get it:


Finally, zero in on your true goals from the items you wrote in the brainstorm and what you marked on the reading challenge ideas sheet. Use the Reading Challenge Details page to finalize your reading challenge.


  • A summary of your challenge
  • Your goals
  • Resources (where you’ll get books, blogs or sites you’ll check to help you choose, prize winner lists, etc.)
  • Other notes: themes, specific books or authors you want to include, etc.


Finally, keep track of your progress on your reading challenge. The bundle includes several customizable bookmarks that will help you do this, but you may also want to grab the Reading Challenge Journal.

This journal is perfect if you’ve created your own reading challenge and now want to track it all year long. I use the journal to plan my reading challenge at the start of the year (the bundle will get you started, but the journal has additional planning sheets if you need a little more thinking space).

I then use the journal to keep note of books I may want to read each month, which ones I actually choose, and my progress through the challenge.

In addition to the books you read for your challenge, you’ll have plenty of space to track and review other books you read–so it works as both a reading challenge book and a 2021 reading journal.


I don’t usually map out a year-long challenge because I like encouraging everyone to create their own. But this year, I thought that many of you may be feeling the way I am–which is exactly what I said above:

I am feeling world-weary, anxious, and unable to take on anything more that’s difficult.

In short, I am feeling the need to add some JOY to my reading.

Reading has always been a source of comfort and escape, but it’s also one way that I learn about the world and engage with difficult issues.

I want to be clear: I’m not going to stop doing that. I am still drawn to heavy books about difficult topics that make me think, and I will continue to read and review those books.

But I’ve found that in recent years, I’ve really leaned into the difficult books and haven’t taken many breathers with the joyful, comforting ones.

My challenge is to take those breaks and purposely pick up books solely because they will make me happy.

If they’re fluffy and silly and without substance? Who cares? Spending a few hours with a Hallmark-ish romance or laughing at a funny dog might be just what I need before diving back into a book about racism or sexual assault.

If this sounds like something you need in your reading life this year, I would love for you to join me.

I chose 12 themes that I think will make me smile each month, but feel free to customize the challenge for yourself–and if you do, please let me know what you choose!

More Joy, Less Stress Reading Challenge checklist and bookmarks

Throughout the year, I’ll share book suggestions for each of my themes. Here are the themes that I’m using this year:



Still looking for the right reading challenge for you? If the above suggestions aren’t quite up your alley, try out some of these excellent challenges from around the online book world (more to come as challenges are announced!):

2021 Reading Challenges

2021 Reading Challenges for All Types of Readers


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