2016 Reading Challenges Update

This year was a big one for me in terms of the sheer number of books that I decided to take on. My first ever reading challenge was PopSugar 2015, which I took on specifically as a way to motivate myself to get reading again. I found the scavenger hunt aspect of finding books to fit each category really interesting, and I finished close to two months early! Around that time, I started seeing new lists coming out for 2016 challenges and several of them piqued my interest.

My first challenge of this year was deciding which challenge (or challenges) to take on in the first place. In all honesty, I was initially very hesitant to take on the new PopSugar list for several reasons. The first thing that struck me was how short the list was compared to the previous year. In 2015 the list had 52 books, and in 2016 it was down to only 40. I’m not sure if the drop in the number of categories is because people were overwhelmed by the pace of the original challenge, but I was a bit disappointed. I figured that since I’d finished 52 books with nearly two months to spare, 40 would be very quick.

The second drawback was how many categories I noticed that immediately put me off. The PopSugar list called for a political memoir, books by celebrities and comedians, a book over 600 pages, and a category that quickly became the bane of my challenge: a book with a protagonist who has your occupation. Aside from that last category, these were all prompts that were firmly outside my comfort zone, and the protagonist with my occupation was very difficult to find! I’m not opposed to pushing my boundaries and trying new books, but with so many categories that seemed off-putting from the start, I was a bit reluctant to take on the challenge.

Instead, I started looking around the internet for other options and I stumbled upon a GoodReads group that quickly became one of my favourite pages to visit: The Around the Year in 52 Books group (challenge details can be found on the discussion board). Not only was this group a very welcoming and dynamic community, but they also were unique because the challenge was created directly by the users through a voting process. Their list for 2016 immediately caught my attention and I decided pretty quickly that this would be the challenge I would do this year.

The more I started looking at books, the more tempting the PopSugar 2016 challenge started to become again. Even with all the categories that I wasn’t such a fan of, I started noticing places where books I really wanted to read would fit, and it wasn’t long before I decided to take that challenge on too. I gave myself from January 1 until the end of March 2017, because I wasn’t sure how well I’d be able to manage 92 categories in one year.

Fast-forward to mid-June this year, when I started to realize that I had made excellent progress on both challenges, and was on track to finish both well before the end of the year. With half of PopSugar completed, and about 70% of the GoodReads challenge completed by the end of June, I decided to add something extra. At the time, I had been looking at the Book Riot Read Harder challenges for 2015 and 2016. My first impression of both of these challenges was that they were much more difficult than any of the others, and had a much stronger emphasis on pushing people to try diverse books. On a (possibly insane) whim, I decided to take on both of these challenges, beginning July 1 and I gave myself until June 30, 2017 to complete them. I say that they have an extended timeline, but in reality, I would love to be able to complete all 4 challenges by the end of this year.

Which brings me to where I stand currently. In total, I have 19 books remaining to be read for the rest of the year. My biggest barrier currently is my final book for the Around the Year challenge: Inkheart, which has become one of my biggest doorstops because of it’s slow pace! I have 4 books remaining for PopSugar, 8 for BookRiot 2015, and 7 for BookRiot 2016. Of the books remaining, the vast majority of them are YA, and there are several graphic novels in the mix as well. I’m still hoping to be able to complete everything by the end of the year, but now I’m not so sure!

Just when I really beginning to lose motivation, my morale received a huge boost: the new PopSugar list for next year has just been released! This year, I took part in the process for the Around the Year challenge, but I promised myself I wouldn’t start planning until I saw the PopSugar list as well. Now that they are both out, I can start really looking ahead and making my (very flexible) plan for next year! It may seem a bit odd after being so overwhelmed right now, but I find that new challenges are really a great motivator. I can’t wait to start planning!

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