Late last year, I happened upon the same reading challenge as many other readers: The 2015 PopSugar Reading Challenge. 50 (52 really, since one item was ‘A Trilogy’) items on a checklist to get bookworms to broaden their bookish horizons. I thought it would be tons of fun to do, and making it a competition with my sister would keep me working on it. We decided to race through the list together, and the winner got a free book, courtesy of the loser. We tried to find books that would check off multiple items, and that became a contest in itself – I won, as the Anna and the French Kiss trilogy marked off 10 or 11 items! Whoop whoop!
On March 15, I won said challenge by reading The Selection by Kiera Cass (A book set in the future). I was excited and drained from reading 25 books in two and a half months. But the road there wasn’t easy. I struggled with finding books I would actually enjoy that fit the items. While I did look into other genres, I didn’t feel as well-rounded as I thought I would upon finishing. I hoped that the challenge would help me find new books to love that I’d previously overlooked just because they weren’t my usual read. I was wrong. I won’t be straying from the shelves I always look at, because those were the books I really enjoyed. The others were just items on a list I had to get through. I finished this challenge not with a broader reading palette, but a shrug of my shoulders and a decision as to what book I should claim as my winnings.
Another common reading challenge is a number. Last year I set my goal low, and I didn’t make it. I don’t think I logged all the books I read into Goodreads, but I know it wasn’t close to my goal. This year, I set it high: 150 books over the course of 2015. As I’ve said, I’m already 25 books in from my reading challenge. But with the voracity I’ve been reading since finishing, I think I would have had a higher number if I could just mood read as I usually do. Instead of picking up the books I bought with a Christmas gift card, I picked up Ethan Frome (Pulitzer Prize winner). Instead of new releases, I read Rainbow Fish (Published the year I was born). Of course, those are short books that didn’t take much time. But they and some of the other books on my list made reading a job or chore instead of a way to relax. It made me look at my bookshelves as a to do list instead of a reassuring presence.
I don’t think I’ll be doing another reading challenge like the PopSugar one, though it wasn’t entirely a bad experience. I did finally add Brazen by Katherine Longshore to my library!
Let me know: Have you done a reading challenge? How did it affect you? Did you enjoy it? Will you do another one? How did you feel upon completing it?