Reading Challenges: Are They for You?

Posted about 5 years ago by Jennifer Deuell
Posted in Book Reviews | Tagged with

As you all know, I completed the 2019 Book Riot Read Harder Challenge this past year. This is not the first book challenge I’ve attempted, but it is the first one I’ve completed. As I reflect back on my experience with it, I have to ask myself the question “Was it worth it?” My answer, “Eh, it’s debatable.”

In total, I read 24 books for the challenge. I loved 4 of them, thought 14 of them were ok, and disliked 6 of them. To me, that is not a great ratio. Long ago I gave up on forcing myself to finish books I disliked. I realized there are too many books to read and not enough time to read them. So, why waste my time on books I don’t like? Recently, I’ve also begun to give up on books that I feel are just ok. I’m sure some of you may think this is a terrible thing to do. I used to feel the same way. But, I figure, the same reasoning applies to those mediocre books that applies to the bad ones (my opinion). If I had applied this mentality throughout 2019, rather than committing to the reading challenge, I could have potentially read 20 more books that I really liked instead of ones that were less satisfying.

The flip side to this argument is that by completing the challenge, I exposed myself to genres, authors, and topics I may not have normally picked up. This year I learned that I like science fiction when I read Mara Milan’s Ignite the Stars. I also really enjoyed Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graundin even though I don’t normally read alternate history novels. The manga challenge finally forced me to read some manga and I can now see it’s appeal. These were all good things that I owe to the Read Harder Challenge!

Book Riot recently released the 2020 Read Harder Challenge and a coworker who completed this year’s challenge with me asked me if I’d be doing it again in the new year. My thoughts are probably not. I’m feeling pretty burned out from this year’s challenge and want to just read some things for fun. I’d also like a little more flexibility in my reading life which I did not feel the challenge allowed me in 2019. Am I turned off from reading challenges forever? No, absolutely not! I will likely do one again in the future as I do see the benefits; however, I probably won’t do it publicly next time so I won’t feel as guilty if I give up a book or quit mid-challenge!

If you are thinking about completing a reading challenge in the coming year, here are a few things I suggest you ask yourself first to determine if reading challenges are right for you:

  1. Are you a mood reader? And, by mood reader I mean do you select the book you want to read based on your current mood? If the answer is yes, reading challenges may not be for you. Through doing this challenge I found that I am very much a mood reader so often when it came time to read a book for a prompt, I just wasn’t feeling it.
  2. Are you craving something new in your reading life? If you are, you should definitely consider doing a reading challenge. You may fall in love with a new author or genre. There are also great online communities you can join with other readers completing the challenge as well. I often found great suggestions in those threads and my TBR list grew exponentially.
  3. Are you ok with reading books you don’t really like? If you are one of those readers that absolutely has to finish a book no matter how you feel about it, then you will probably barrel your way through a reading challenge, no problem. On the other hand, if you are like me and committed to only reading books that really interest you, you may want to skip the challenge, or at least allow yourself the ability to skip some prompts.
  4. Do you like keeping up with new releases? Reading challenges are often very specific. You may not always be able to fulfill a prompt with a new release. This can put you behind in keeping up with the newest books. Keep this in mind.
  5. Do you like a good challenge? This one is fairly obvious, but, if you like a good challenge then definitely jump in head first! You will feel great about yourself for completing something that maybe wasn’t always easy. Regardless of whether or not I feel this reading challenge was worth it, I do feel pretty darn proud of myself!

If, after reading my very long rant (sorry about that), you are still considering completing a reading challenge in the new year, here are a few I would suggest:

Book Riot’s 2020 Read Harder Challenge – “Once again, Read Harder has 24 tasks designed to help you break out of your reading bubble and expand your worldview through books. With new genres, new authors, and new points of view, the challenge will (hopefully) help you discover amazing books you wouldn’t have otherwise picked up.”

2020 Reading Challenge from Modern Mrs. Darcy – ” We know how to help readers get more out of their reading lives, and our challenge is designed to help you do exactly that. We’ve carefully created a new category list for 2020, with ten categories that have a phenomenal success rate when it comes to delivering a fantastic reading experience.”

2020 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge – “This year’s reading challenge is about to up your 2020 reading game in a big way, and we can’t wait to share our 50 new book prompts with all of you. In addition to the 40 standard book challenge prompts, we’re bringing back the 10 ‘advanced’ prompts for those bibliophiles out there looking for something extra. Are you ready for a plot twist? This year, the advanced section is all 2020-themed, from ‘a book set in Japan, host of the 2020 Olympics’ to ‘a book with a character with a vision impairment or enhancement (a nod to 20/20 vision).'”

Book Awards Reading Challenge with Girlxoxo – “Your task is to read at least 1 book each month that has WON a book award in that month. EXCEPT December. Read ANY book award winner.”

52 Books in 52 Weeks by Mommy Mannegren – “The format for this year’s challenge is the same as in the past: 52 different categories to be met over the course of the year. These are fresh categories that can each be interpreted in a variety of ways, so pick a book that you think fits and start reading! “

Wendy the Super Librarian’s 2020 #TBR Challenge – ” Your mission, should you choose to accept it: once a month pull a dormant book out of your TBR pile and read it.”

Goodreads Reading Challenge – ” It’s simple: Set a goal of how many books you want to read this year, and we’ll help you keep track of it. How many books will you be pledging?” (This is the link to the 2019 Challenge. I believe Goodreads puts up their new challenge on the 1st of the year. This is one I do every year because it’s super flexible. The only hard part is determining how many books you think you’ll read!)

Good luck readers and happy reading in the new year!


Jennifer Deuell

Jenn Deuell is a Librarian with Richmond Public Library. She is a native of Fredericksburg, VA but has lived in Richmond for long enough that she now considers it home. She loves all things YA and can usually be found curled up at home with a good book (rainy day or not). Her other hobbies include traveling and spending time with family, including her husband, daughter Hannah, and two rescued pit bulls. For YA reading recommendations from Jenn, visit Bookologist.

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