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Ready for a reading challenge? Whether you’re starting a challenge in the new year, looking for a summer reading challenge, or just looking to shake up your reading life at any time, look no further than these excellent 2023 reading challenges to inspire you to read and help you meet your reading goals. Take the quiz to find out the best style of reading challenge for you, then start planning your customized book challenge.
The new year is a time for reflection and change. It’s also a time to challenge ourselves, grow as readers, and push our boundaries. Why not take the opportunity to set some goals for your reading in 2023?
A reading challenge is an excellent way to grow your love of reading and explore new books, genres, and authors.
The start of the year is a great time to look ahead and plan a year-long challenge, but you can start a reading challenge at any time.
Maybe you want to make a summer or winter reading challenge, or maybe your favorite author has a book coming out soon and you want to catch up on their backlist.
We readers tend to think of reading challenges that last the whole year, but mini-challenges throughout the course of the year are great as well!
No matter when you start or how long it lasts, make sure the challenge you choose is right for you and adds variety to your usual reading routine.
What Is a Reading Challenge and How Does It Work?
A reading challenge is a goal you set for your reading over a certain amount of time. The goal can be related to the number of books you read; a set of themes, genres, or types of books you read; or even how often you read.
Many readers take on a challenge because it’s a fun way to add variety to their favorite hobby and ensure they read diverse books and authors.
There is no one-size-fits-all reading challenge; they vary in style, intensity, and purpose–which is why it’s important to find or create a challenge that works for you.
A reading challenge is a great way to grow as a reader and push your boundaries. Book lovers often use reading challenges as motivation to try something new or just because they want to read more.
The most straightforward challenge is choosing a certain number of books you’d like to read in a year (if you use Goodreads, you’ll see a prompt to set your reading goal).
I’m not fond of this type of challenge because–unless you don’t currently read at all and want to start–I think numbers are meaningless when it comes to reading.
Furthermore, this type of challenge doesn’t factor in the difficulty or length of books–and I think it encourages people to avoid long, complex books that could be just what they need in their reading life.
I like to set my own goals based on what I want to accomplish with reading that year, whether learning more about a particular subject, trying out some new genres, or stepping back from new releases and reading more books published in past years.
What’s the Best Reading Challenge?
The best reading challenge is the one that meets your needs as a reader.
A reading challenge should enhance your reading life, and sometimes it can make it easier. The truth is, the book world is vast, most of our TBRs are exploding, and reading time is limited.
A challenge can help you narrow down your reading list and help you pick your next great read.
So this year, I challenge you to think about what you want to add to your reading life. Then start mapping out your challenge. Grab the free Reading Challenge Bundle to get started!
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Building your own reading challenge can be so much fun and enhance your reading life in so many ways. Reading books doesn’t have to feel like homework–and it shouldn’t!
There are tons of pre-built reading challenges out there, and many of them are great! You might find the perfect reading challenge that keeps you motivated and interested all year long.
However, choosing the wrong challenge can lead to…well, not misery (we are just talking about reading here!)…but how inspired will you be if, after seven months, you’re slogging through a challenge with a bunch of themes you don’t care about?
More than likely, you won’t even be slogging at that point–you’ll have already quit.
Reading Challenge Styles that Fit Your Reading Life
So, before you choose a pre-built challenge or start building your custom challenge, let’s talk about reading challenge styles.
When you’re excited to start, it can be tempting to jump into a super ambitious challenge filled with challenging books or a rigorous reading schedule.
If that’s your typical reading style and that type of challenge is exciting to you, dive in! You’ve found your perfect challenge.
But if you only read a few books per year and are doing a reading challenge to help you build a reading habit, committing to an ambitious challenge is a recipe for failure–no matter how well-intentioned and motivated you are at the start of the year.
So, let’s look at the different types of reading challenges and figure out which type is best for you.
Not sure which is the best fit? Take the quiz to find your reading challenge style.
Chill Reading Challenge
A “chill challenge” might sound like an oxymoron. How can something be both challenging and easy? But in this context, it means that your challenge should match your reading life.
A chill challenge is perfect for beginner readers. It’s also great if you’re in a hectic stage of life (have small children who keep you busy or homeschooling during COVID, anyone?) and want an easy way to ensure that you keep reading.
A chill challenge is perfect if you:
- Don’t spend a lot of time reading but want to make it a habit
- Occasionally read a book to relax
- Want a low-effort, low-pressure challenge that helps you stay motivated throughout the year
- Have a few books that you’ve meant to read but haven’t gotten around to yet.
If you tend to have a hard time finding and settling into a good book, your challenge probably shouldn’t be packed with heavy books or serious themes. It should be fun and full of lighter reads.
Whether “light” to you means fiction or nonfiction, romantic comedies or thrilling mysteries–aim for books that you know you’ll be excited to read.
This style is also great if you want to get back into reading or are looking for a simple way to work through your current TBR list.
The best part of a chill challenge? You can do it at any time! Plan a year-long, laid-back challenge, or try a mini-challenge or two throughout the year.
Reading Challenge Prompts for “Chill” Readers
- Commit to reading at least one book per month
- Commit to reading during National Reading Month (March)
- Start listening to audiobooks anytime you’re cleaning, driving, or doing laundry
- Do a summer reading challenge alongside your kids if they do one at your library.
Chill challenges are about flexibility, fitting reading into your life, and helping you explore your reading interests.
Feel free to change your challenge mid-year, to take a break and come back to it later, or to put down a reading selection if it’s not working for you. Do what works for you to keep reading interesting!
Balanced Reading Challenge
A balanced reading challenge is a step up from a chill challenge but still keeps things flexible. If you read more than one book per month but want to push yourself a bit, this is the style for you.
A balanced reading challenge will feel less intense than the bigger reading challenges described later, but it will still help you find great books.
A balanced challenge is a good choice if you:
- Already love to read books but are ready to try something new
- Need a new challenge to get out of a reading rut and need some new ideas for genres, new releases, or other books that you might love
- Read some now but hope to make it an even more significant part of your life.
It’s a good option if you feel like a little more reading time would add some “balance” to your life and give you back some brain space and time to relax (moms, this might be the one for you!).
You could also look at a balanced challenge as a way to create a balanced reading list–especially if you almost always read books from the same genre.
For example, you could pick 12 books and include three nonfiction titles, two science fiction novels, three mysteries or romances, two international reads, a literary fiction novel, a poetry collection–you get the idea.
Aim for this style if you love to read and want to add something to your reading life, without making it complicated.
Plan a challenge that stretches you a bit–with new genres, topics, or some books you’ve always meant to read–but make sure it fits into your life and that you’ll love it.
Reading Challenge Prompts for “Balanced” Readers
- Read one book per month from a genre you don’t usually read
- Try a new format–ebooks, audiobooks, short stories, or even graphic novels or picture books
- Explore some sub-genres of a genre you already love
- Read books that have been adapted for the screen, then watch the movies or tv series.
Like a chill challenge, a balanced challenge can be flexible and should fit into your reading life.
Readers who are a fit for balanced challenges already spend time reading but may need a fun little shake-up. If you’ve gotten a bit bored with the types of books you usually read, that may be a sign that a balanced challenge is suitable for you.
Stretch Reading Challenge
A stretch reading challenge is another step up the difficulty ladder from a balanced challenged. This style of reading challenge is for you if you spend a lot of time reading and are ready to push your boundaries.
A stretch challenge is perfect for readers already used to reading more than one book per month. It’s also good for those who are looking forward to heavier reads or working through themed lists.
A stretch challenge will push you beyond your usual reading comfort zone and encourage you to take some risks with some of the books you read. Choose some books that intimidate you, commit to a complex topic, or read some extra-long books.
A stretch challenge can give you a sense of satisfaction, accomplishment, and excitement when it’s finished–and maybe even some new favorite reads.
This style is a good choice for readers who:
- Usually read multiple books per month
- Read for both fun and personal enrichment
- Don’t mind tackling long or difficult books.
You might commit to reading multiple books from one category or genre, reading books from around the world, or reading the book suggestions of a favorite author.
Plan a challenge that keeps reading fun while challenging your worldview, opening yourself to new ideas, and teaching you new things.
Even though you’re taking some risks with this style, it’s unlikely to derail your love of books because you’ll fit these new types of reads alongside your usual go-to’s.
Prompts for a “Stretch” Reading Challenge
- Read an award-winning book each month
- Read nonfiction books about topics new to you
- Read books written by authors from marginalized groups
- Read at least one book each week
- Use the alphabet as your guide and plan an A-Z reading challenge to read books or authors that start with each letter of the alphabet.
If you’re looking for a more intense challenge that will help you explore different genres and take your life as a reader to the next level, this is the style for you.
Ambitious Reading Challenge
If you read anything and everything, all the time, then an ambitious challenge is for you! You might even want to plan several challenges–the sky is the limit.
Your busy reading life gives you a lot of room to add challenges, try new books and authors, and push your limits.
You can keep your reading life fresh by pushing yourself to complete one or more BIG challenges throughout the year.
An ambitious reading challenge is an excellent choice if you:
- Easily read one or more books per week and spend most of your free time reading
- Read widely in multiple genres
- Are looking to try new ways to read, new books from different areas of the world, or authors from underrepresented groups.
This style may not be suitable if you’re trying to cut down your reading time (yes, it IS possible to spend too much time reading!) or if slower, more meditative reads are important to you.
An expansive, ambitious challenge also may not be right if you don’t like branching out beyond your favorites. However, you can still get “ambitious” by challenging yourself to read a complete series or all the books written by a favorite prolific author.
It’s a good style if you’re looking to try new books from different areas of the world or by authors from underrepresented groups, or if you love having lots of options when choosing your next book.
This style also allows you to add a few sillier categories, like reading books with blue covers or with specific words in the title. (I’m not knocking them–these themes make for a fun book hunt but aren’t always related to your personal reading goals.)
You may want to join a community of readers in a Facebook group or book club; the discussions and comments with your fellow readers can highlight new books and help you stay enthusiastic about your challenge(s).
Prompts for an “Ambitious” Reading Challenge
- Read a book on the same topic from each of the following genres: Fiction, Nonfiction, Memoirs.
- Start with your favorite title and read every novel written by that author
- Read all of the unread books on your shelf
- Take up residence in a foreign country through literature. Read books about life in each country, including novels that have been translated.
If you’re already a prolific reader and want to add a little fun, variety, and novelty to your reading life, an ambitious challenge (or two or three!) is right for you.
My 2023 Reading Challenge
Curious about my 2023 reading challenge? I’m going an entirely different route this year and not focusing on WHAT I read, but HOW I read. This video explains more:
Want to join me in reading better and not just more? Grab the free reading challenge bundle and you’ll be subscribed to stay up-to-date with everything. More resources will be headed your way!
Need some help finding the best fit? Take the quiz to find your reading challenge style.
How to Build Your Own Reading Challenge
Once you decide what style is right for you (take the quiz if you’re unsure), you can start planning your challenge!
The free reading challenge bundle will help you narrow down your reading challenge ideas and start building your CUSTOM challenge that’s right for you.
If you need ideas for themes or books to read, this is where pre-built reading challenges can help–check out the list below for some that I like for each reading challenge style from some other book bloggers.
These blogs include some excellent ideas that you can mix and match with your own goals–and of course, check out all the book list posts right here on Mind Joggle for tons of theme and book recommendations.
(Did you know you can even get a printable version of your favorite book lists to help you plan and track your reading progress?)
Use the brainstorm page in the bundle to start planning your challenge. Write down any reading goals you have, any books you want to read, or genres you’re interested in exploring.
Don’t worry about finalizing your plan or putting things in order–get your ideas written down.
Once you have a list of ideas, start narrowing them down. Highlight your favorites, then write down your finalized reading challenge on the Details page in the bundle (it’s okay to write a few drafts or create more than one challenge–print as many copies as you need!).
Once you have your general goals and plan in place, you can start mapping out themes and books. Again, you can find plenty of book ideas here on this blog, as well as from your local library staff.
As you dive in, I recommend starting a reading challenge journal.
Writing down your plans, book reviews, and what you’re looking forward to will help you stay on track and motivated throughout the year. Read some more reading journal tips and ideas.
Break Out of Your Usual Reading Rut–Start Your Challenge!
Will you be doing a reading challenge in 2023? I’d love to know your plan–please share in the comments, and be sure to grab the bundle to get started!
- 2022 Reading Challenge
- 2021 Reading Challenge
- Reading Challenge Journal
- The Ultimate Guide to Reading Journals for Book Lovers