It was probably an easier option to pick a specific book or genre for this week’s prompt, but I was having trouble coming up with a full list of 10 things! Instead, I decided to back up a bit and focus on my love of reading challenges. I find one of the questions I’m asked most often about my reading habits is why I bother with challenges instead of just reading whatever books I want whenever I want. When I first attempted a reading challenge back in 2015, I decided to try it on a whim because I saw PopSugar’s list posted on Facebook, and thought it looked like fun. I didn’t actually care much at the time whether I finished it or not. Since then, I’ve started expanding it each year to take on more prompts-based challenges each year. It’s getting to the point now where I have to actively plan for the challenges I’ve taken on to take more than one year to complete, but it’s still just as much fun! I was also surprised to see that the last post I made about my reasons for taking on a reading challenge was all the way back in 2016! Each year, I also do a post toward the end of the year of a few of the things I’ve learned about myself or my reading habits by doing a challenge, but I’ve rarely talked about why I like challenges in general so I thought this would be a good opportunity to do it.
Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.
1) I love making lists and checking things off
I’m a huge completionist when it comes to crossing items off lists, so I find it very satisfying to look cross each book off as I finish it. I keep tracking of my reading by month in a Word document so I can track which books I read, how many, etc. and some notes on each, and it’s fun for me (but sometimes frustrating, on a slower month) to see how much of each challenge I’ve completed so far!
2) I have a lot of fun with the planning process
A huge part of the fun of reading challenges for me is to compile my list of plans for which books I’m going to read for each prompt. I only take on challenges that have a list of prompts, as opposed to challenges to read a specific number of books but any book counts, and I love planning my list in advance. I always leave myself room for things to change, but I love the scavenger hunt/Tetris aspect of finding books to read and shifting things around to fit in as many of the books I’m most excited for as possible.
3) It encourages me to try new books, genres, or authors
Because the challenges I take on have specific prompts, they often involve me branching out a bit to try something new and especially things that I might not have picked up otherwise. Doing these kinds of challenges helps to remind me to push myself out of my comfort zone a bit and try something new. I rarely (if ever) read something just for the sake of crossing off a prompt — I still have to have at least some interest in the book in order to choose it, but it’s definitely helped me consider more options and discover many new books.
4) It gives me some direction when choosing books
I think this goes hand-in-hand with planning my reading in advance. I generally plan for each year’s reading challenges around November/December of the previous year, so I go into the new year with ideas in mind of which books I want to prioritize. I also usually set myself specific goals, such as prioritizing specific books or authors, reading more of a certain genre, etc. I have a TBR that is approaching 4000 books on Goodreads, so challenges help me narrow things down and actually pick something instead of getting overwhelmed.
5) It reminds me to actively pick up the books that I’m really excited for
I think this one goes back to the list-making aspect a bit, because it reminds me to proactively include those books first. Even just the process of writing down my plans for the year is helpful because it gives me a visual way of seeing if my most anticipated books are there. If not, I know I need to go back and shuffle things around to make sure I fit them in! With such a huge TBR list, it’s very easy for me to forget something.
6) It gives me a community of people to discuss books with
This one can be a challenge sometimes because I often find it hard to keep up with message boards or discussion groups, but most reading challenges have a Facebook or Goodreads group where I can get recommendations for specific prompts or discuss the books that I’m reading. It’s fun to have a community of other book lovers around to share ideas with.
7) It encourages & motivates me to read more in general
I’ve definitely started to read a lot more books each year as a direct result of doing reading challenges. I don’t necessarily like to get too hung up on the number of books, but knowing that I have an on-going reading challenge reminds me to make more time to read in my daily life. I think part of this comes back to the whole “crossing things off a list” aspect because it helps me feel like reading is productive in addition to being a fun hobby.
8) It’s helped me discover many of my favourite books and authors
There are so many books and authors that I doubt I would have encountered if it hadn’t been for reading challenges! Many of them are books that I picked up because I saw a lot of hype online while researching options for different prompts, and I ended up loving them. Since the reading challenges push me outside of my comfort zone a bit and encourage me to read more in general, it’s no surprise that they’ve helped me discover a lot more books and authors to try, and many that I’ve ended up really loving! It’s possible I would have eventually read these books anyway, but I think reading challenges have pushed me to discover them a bit sooner.
9) It’s helped me get better at choosing books that I’m going to enjoy
I find this is especially true in the past couple of years. When I look back at the books that I picked in 2015 and 2016, I saw a lot more books that I picked up even though I wasn’t the most interested because I had few options for a prompt. Over the years, I’ve become a lot better at picking books that I genuinely expect to love. Sometimes I’m wrong, but I rarely have books on my list anymore that I’m reading just for the sake of fulfilling a prompt. My average Goodreads ratings for books I’ve read each year has gone up too!
10) It’s fun!
Ultimately, I do reading challenges each year because I still find them fun! There are some elements of it that can get a bit frustrating at times, such as people bickering over prompts/interpretations of prompts, or struggling to finish all my books “in time,” but I wouldn’t continue to do these challenges if I wasn’t enjoying them! I’ve always found reading a lot of fun, and I love that these challenges have really pushed me to focus on it a bit more again.
I love reading challenges too for the same reasons! Especially the planning and making lists!
I love making lists and checking things off, too. Maybe I should try a reading challenge? 🙂
My TTT .
LikeLiked by 1 person
Reading challenges are fun! I did one last year trying to read a book set in all 50 states. Normally, I go for shorter challenges.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Every reason you listed are my reasons for participating in the Popsugar Challenge, as well. I love when the list comes out in November and I can “plan” the next year. It’s like Christmas morning. It has definitely pushed my reading out of my comfort zone, and I’ve learned so many new things. I loved this topic choice!
LikeLiked by 1 person