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Reading challenges are always hot at the beginning of the year, and this year, I’m blown away by the literal thousands of you who have either taken the reading challenge quiz, grabbed the free reading challenge bundle, or purchased the reading challenge journal (and some of you, all three!).
I love that the idea of customizing your reading challenge has caught on. I hope you’re finding the resources to be useful in crafting the right challenge for you in 2022.
But if you’ve grabbed those resources or been following the blog for long, you may be wondering what my reading challenge will be this year.
I want to walk you through my process for building my reading challenge in the hopes that it will help you clarify your own goals as you build your challenge.
Read on below, or check out the video to see how the digital planner works. Even if you don’t use digital planners, this is a great overview of how I planned my reading challenge.
Reading Challenge Purpose
Why You Want to Do a Reading Challenge
I think “why” is the most important question to ask yourself before starting a reading challenge.
Or, maybe even before why should come, “DO I want to do a reading challenge?” It’s okay if the answer this year is no–or if it’s no for now, and you want to start one in June.
Presumably, though, you’ve landed on yes. So let’s talk about why. Here’s how I think through my whys:
- Enjoyment: My reading challenge should contribute to my enjoyment of reading. It shouldn’t make it into a chore.
- Growth: Reading offers me many things, and it’s easy to let it only be about enjoyment. I want my challenge to help me grow, try new things, and stay out of reading ruts (for me, that tends to be reading only brand new books for the blog).
- Accomplishments: While I don’t need the challenge to only be about reading intimidating doorstopper books, it would be nice to fit in one or two that feel like a challenge.
So, as you build your challenge, think about your why. Maybe you need some escapism. Maybe you need to stretch your brain. Maybe you need to feel connected to the outside world again, especially if you’ve felt isolated during the pandemic.
Everyone’s “why” is a little different, and it’s okay if yours is simple (“I want a simple list to follow so I can check things off as done.”) or complex (“Things are super hard and I need some life-changing books now.”).
What I Want from My Reading This Year
I know I will read plenty of new books this year–as a book blogger, I’m lucky to get advanced reader copies of books and audiobooks.
The main thing I want this year is to read some books that I’m almost certain I’ll love.
ARCs are fun because they’re unknown. Few people before me have reviewed them, there hasn’t been any bestseller buzz yet, and you just might discover a new author you love.
But that also means that I take a lot of chances on books–and some really don’t work out.
I’d like a few more moments of excitement to start a book that I know lots of others have read and loved.
I’d also like to stop staring longingly at some of the unread books on my shelf and actually get them read (you see where this is going, and obviously the title is a spoiler).
My Reading Interest/Reading Mood
Last year, my mood was decidedly light. I needed a little more joy in my reading.
This year, I’m ready again for more depth and darkness. I’m on the hunt again for new favorite books that I can’t stop thinking about, and for me, that usually means some great literary fiction.
Reading Challenge Ideas
Here are a few reading challenge ideas I played around with for my own challenge this year:
- Classic novels that I’ve been meaning to read
- A selection of non-fiction titles, so I can get out of my fiction comfort zone and learn something new
- A list of award winners
- All of my unread Book of the Month club books
- Historical fiction books from lesser-known times or events (i.e., not WWII)
- Unread books from my shelf.
Reading Challenge Brainstorm: Books, Themes, Authors
Before I decide on a theme or themes, I think about the books I’m most interested in reading. Perusing a TBR can help with this, but I also think about topics I might want to read about or authors I want to read.
Use this brainstorm to write down the top-of-mind things you most want to read. Give yourself a time limit, if you need to, then review your list.
Look for commonalities you can use when building your challenge. Do you want to read several books from an author? Focus on a theme? Spread several themes across the year?
It’s your challenge, so choose what speaks to you!
For my own challenge, I kept returning to a number of books that have been on my shelf for a while. I bought those books because I want to read them.
Blogging often keeps me reading new releases, so a challenge to read the older books on my shelf is a great fit for me.
Finalize Your Reading Challenge
Now it’s time to finalize your challenge. I like to plan by month and pencil in the themes and books I want to read each month.
If your challenge has multiple themes, write them all down and note some potential books that fall under each theme. You don’t have to plan out your reading for the entire year; give yourself the flexibility to choose books based on your mood.
I started by choosing my books for the first two months of 2022, while noting the others on my shelf that I most want to read.
Once you have your challenge planned, get started! Start tracking what you read each month, review your books, and have an amazing year of reading!
Ready to Plan Your Own?
Grab the free reading challenge bundle to start planning your own reading challenge.
If you’re ready to dive in, plan your full challenge, and keep track all year long, try the full Reading Challenge Journal.
Have questions? Let me know! If you’ve already planned your own challenge, please share it!
Don’t have time to watch the full video? Watch a quick preview of the Digital Reading Challenge Journal below: