Monday, November 23, 2015

So, heh, I discovered reading challenges this year...

Source: Freeimages

I'm actually an old hat at reading challenges. Can you say "summer reading program"? For the past few years, though, my reading habits have manifested two quirks: lots and lots of picture books, and hundreds of books, mostly nonfiction, that I borrow from the library, get halfway through, and return. Not that there's anything wrong with that. But late last year I started reading a lot at bibliophile Anne Bogel's blog, Modern Mrs Darcy. At the beginning of the year, Anne announced her 2015 reading challenge. Then I kept hearing about more, and before I knew it, I had signed on for seven* challenges for the year.

Some I am in the home stretch for, and some I've already finished, and some—well, I'm just going to have to push to make it. I did allow cross-posting, in the sense of letting one book count for more than one challenge (although, of course, not the same book more than once in the same challenge). I also kept a reading journal this year, the first time in a long time that I actually tracked my reading. This let me record some general thoughts (not a full review or report) of each book, and counts as an overall log that also includes the books that didn't fit into even one challenge (there were a few).

These are the challenges I accepted for 2015:

The Modern Mrs. Darcy 2015 Reading Challenge. The one that started it all.

26 Books to Read in 2015 (with Bringing Up Burns), the next random one I found. It looked fun so I said, why not another one?

2015 Reading Challenge by PopSugar—a bit of a whopper, with 50 books! Maybe not a big deal by itself, but if you're reading for six* other challenges, it can begin to dictate your choices!

2015 Authors A to Z Reading Challenge. Definitely some new finds for this one, as it was challenging just to find authors for some letters.

Twelve Books from Your Own Library (That You Haven't Read Yet). I didn't find a formal challenge for this year, per se, but heard clues about something similar for previous years and decided this was a Very Good Idea.

What's in a Name 2015. The shortest, maybe funnest one of the lot. Okay, they have all been fun, but I think I could have easily been happy with twice as many categories as this one had.

A Year of Reading Challenges for Kids. So they can play along.

*Oh, did I say seven challenges? I meant eight!—I found this Back to the Classics Challenge 2015 late in the year, and decided to tack it on. Why not? I had already read several books that qualified.

I didn't restrict myself to only new books, i.e. books I hadn't read before (since some of the categories were specifically rereads), unless the category or challenge specifically stipulated a new read. I did try, though, to give priority to new discoveries and books from my To Be Read pile.  I'll post my reading for each challenge in a separate post, and repeat books will link back to the challenge in which they were originally listed.

I've already decided to limit my reading challenges next year. Participating in so many challenges has definitely helped me to read more, discover new books, and expand my choices. But I have found that in my eagerness/anxiety to complete a challenge (/all of them) I would forego reading something that I might have preferred to read instead, for the sake of filling an empty slot. This has its good points, admittedly—it's a challenge, after all. (I did ask myself a couple of times, "Why would you deliberately read a book with a bad review?" There are a lot of answers to that; but that's just an example of when I might rather be reading something else!) It also meant I was sometimes reading rather than doing something else I would rather, or needed to, do. I find myself sympathizing with this perspective as the year closes.

I'm really glad to have challenged myself and completed them all (I will complete them all), and I find that I don't need to do so much next year. I might get weak and cave if I see a really interesting one, and I've been more than tempted to host one (or two) of my own. But for now, my intention is to tackle my Booklust Pinterest board. I'll formalize it later, but the basic idea is to read one new book from each list that I've pinned, and a handful of singleton titles on the board.

Have you participated in any reading challenges this year? If so, what was your favorite aspect of it? Will you do one next year?

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