On Reading Challenges for 2011

Posted on January 13, 2011. Filed under: Blogs, Books, Musings | Tags: , , , , , |

I realize it’s pretty popular to host reading challenges now. People seem to get amped up and rush into them with the banners waving. I’ve also noticed there are a ridiculous variety of these challenges.

One in particular caught my attention and got me started thinking about the challenges in general. It’s by Historically Obsessed and is a Lauren Willig Reading Challenge. Of course, if you’ve read my blog, you’ve probably gotten a little sick of my admiration for Lauren Willig’s historical spy series, but I can’t really help that; she’s one of my favorite authors.

The challenge asks readers to take on reading all the books in her series in a year. Currently there are 7 books out and one more coming in the end of January. That makes eight books total to read in the series over the course of the year. That’s not half bad, and I’ve been thinking of rereading the books on my list, so I might give it a go if the last two books have come out in paperback by the end of the year.

I started looking up reading challenges, though, and I came across this blog, which tries to stay current with all novel and non-fiction reading challenges thrown out there on the blogosphere. As I started reading through just a handful of the challenges for the year, I was struck by how serious some people are about these challenges.

Now, for the record, I’ve given myself some challenges. I plan to read at least 50 books this year, interspersed with a smattering of new authors and genres to open my outlook a bit. I think that plus the Lauren Willig Reading Challenge are all good things and things I would normally have come up with on my own.

Then there are challenges like the Gilmore Girls Reading Challenge that takes a list of all books quoted, mentioned, or otherwise shown throughout all episodes and puts together a challenge for readers. Now it may be because I’m just not big into television and haven’t really caught onto a show that I wanted to watch since NCIS aired, but this strikes me a little much. The challenge files the books into categories and asks readers to pick a level, which determines how many titles from each category they will read during the year.

I like the idea of reading a variety of books, don’t get me wrong. But I think I’ll pick that out myself for now. I’ve actually already managed to branch into some books I never thought of reading before simply by picking them up from my pile and starting in on reading them. Perhaps these reading challenges are a good idea if you’re not into reading a variety of books or have gotten stuck reading a few authors and aren’t willing to branch out.

I decided last month I would try to branch out this year because I think it will make me a better author to be more well-rounded in my reading.

Does that mean I think I’m better than those of you doing reading challenges? Of course not! It just means that, for me, the reading challenges don’t seem like ones that I would enjoy. There are lots of titles on that Gilmore Girls list that I’ve put on the backburner and several that I’ve already read; so it’s not like I couldn’t join in the challenge. I’d just rather do my own challenge and read things that will both interest me and help me grow as a writer. And I’ll add that I want to do it in my own way.

If anything, I’d start a reading challenge to throw out all the other challenges and read a specified number of books within the year where you’re trying to challenge yourself to read outside your genre and author preferences. For me, the key is to read things I enjoy in between reading new genres and authors; that makes all the difference.

I hope this hasn’t come across as necessarily condescending. It’s just my thoughts for myself on reading challenges. I may yet join in the Lauren Willig one, but that’s one that I’ve been toying around with doing for a while now on my own. Joining the challenge has no real bearing on my doing it besides motivating me to post thoughtful reviews and commentary on the Historically Obsessed contest page.

Perhaps I should participate in a reading challenge this year simply to see what all the commotion is about. We’ll see.

What about you? Are you going to participate in any reading challenges? Which ones? Let me know what you think because I’m always curious!

Oh, and I’ll post another blog soon with my reviews on two of the books I finished this week: Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game and James Patterson’s Mary, Mary. So I hope you’ll look forward to those! Now I’m off to find another book to read to satiate my book lust!


P.S. I’m enjoying that challenging myself to do the reading has gotten me reading a few of those pesky books on my list that were sitting around my room looking lonely and unloved. Have you been doing the same?

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