One of my big goals for 2017 is to read a lot more than I have been for the past few years. I enjoy reading all sorts of books, but I haven’t been reading a lot of fiction lately (unless the Magic Tree House series and other things I read with the girl count) and I feel like there’s just a lot I want to read and I need to make more of a commitment to it.
Also, my personal motto in hashtag form is #makeamericasmartagain, and that means me, too. So that means more reading.
A Reading Challenge with a Number
Probably the most basic way to design a reading challenge is to just pick a number of books you’d like to read in the coming year.
If you’re on Goodreads, they make this really easy for you because there’s a reading challenge of this sort built right in. I went with 52, one a week, though I really think I can do more (and have already finished two, and have two more pretty close to done).
You can decide to do one a week, two a month, one a month, whatever is more than what you’re doing now.
A List Related Reading Challenge
Many years ago, like maybe 2000 or so, I decided I wanted to read all the books that had won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. I don’t know why I picked that particular list, but I wanted to feel more well-read and I thought that might be a good place to start.
I’m four years behind now, and I know those are all fantastic books, so I will probably add them to my list for this year.
I’d love to read National Book Award winners, too (there’s actually not a huge amount of overlap).
But of course there are tons of book lists you could try, especially this time of year. There’s the Shelf Awareness best books list, a list from Lit Hub of the most overlooked books of the year, and this handy one from Quartz, which tallies 36 best books lists and whittles them down to a list of 20 must-reads.
Join a Book Club and Read What They Read
I’m part of an online book club that reads books on feminism, politics and feisty women. It selects several books a month and I’m making it my intent to read all of them.
If you don’t have a real in-person book club, you could also read all the books Emma Watson’s book club read last year. So much good stuff there.
Design a Reading Challenge of Your Own
Maybe you feel like your education had some gaps in it you need to fill. Mine is, well, I have a lot of them, but one I’m trying to work on is that lack of books by women I’ve read. So I have a list dedicated to that on Goodreads. And I should read the Bitch Media best books of 2016, for sure. There’s some great stuff on there, and they’re almost all by women.
Choose a genre you’ve always wanted to read more of. Or books from a particular period in history.
Read dead white guys, or only books in translation, or only books by LBGTQ community members. Someday I really want to do a year of presidential biographies.
It doesn’t really matter what the list is, as long as you design a reading challenge that’s exciting to you and that feels like a challenge.
What are you reading this year? I’d love to hear about it!