2018 Reading Challenges: Part One

challenge book photo
Photo by Upupa4me

It’s that time of year again! We’re halfway through December, and the new year is in sight. Time to sign up for reading challenges. I like to figure out where I might focus my reading each year, but in all honesty, I don’t actually complete most of the challenges I take on. Still, the challenges make me think about what I want to accomplish in the reading year ahead. Thanks to Kim and Tanya for collecting a great list of reading challenges and updating the list each week.

The first challenge that catches my eye is the Author Love Challenge. I’m in for five of James Baldwin’s books.

I think I participated in the Back to the Classics Challenge a couple of years back, and it was a great one for helping me focus my reading. Like a lot of people, I have a list of classics I keep meaning to get to. I’m just now reading 1984, for example. I’m in for six categories, but I’m not sure which ones at the moment.

I like to do some kind of challenge involving reading books from the UK because I love British literature. This year I participated in the British Books Challenge, and I plan to participate again next year. I’m not sure what I will read. This year, I completed the challenge with ten books, but I didn’t review most of them because most of them were re-reads. I think this year, I will try to read at least five, all of which are new to me.

I’m in once again for the Historical Fiction Reading Challenge. I have done this one many times. I don’t think I’m meeting my goal this year, but that’s fine. Historical Fiction is my favorite genre, but because I’m trying to branch out, I’ll shoot for five books—Victorian Reader.

I love theme-y types of challenges, and the Monthly Motif Challenge looks like a fun way to diversify my reading selections. I’m going to try to participate each month and read a total of 12 books toward the challenge.

I can’t resist any challenge that asks me to “travel” through books. I’m signing up for the Literary Voyage Around the World Challenge, and I’m shooting for Literary Hitchhiker, 25-40 countries. I’d like to think I could branch out a bit more and do more than the minimum, but looking at my usual reading patterns, I think 25 will even be a stretch for me. It will be a good excuse to diversify my reading.

That’s it for now. I’ll write a new post for any additional challenges that I might want to do. I’m purposely not doing any challenges that require me to tackle books I already own or that are already in my TBR pile. I found those challenges limiting and hard for me to complete, especially when really good books came out that I wanted to read—those books tended to go on my TBR pile, and I wound up spinning my wheels a bit.

2017 Reading Goals

stack of books photo
Photo by Au Kirk

I always like to write up my reading goals in my first blog post of the year.

2017 Reading Challenge

Dana has
read 0 books toward
her goal of
46 books.

I have decided to try to read 46 books this year, since I’ll be turning 46 in September. My sister also set the same goal, but she had the idea first. She is NOT turning 46, however.

I have created my 2017 Reading Challenges page. I will not be joining any more challenges until the R. I. P. Challenge this fall. All of the reading challenges I have chosen have some freedom and flexibility, so I’m not too worried about getting bogged down trying to meet challenge goals.

One general reading goal I have is to read more books written by African and Asian authors and/or set in African or Asian countries. In particular, I want to read books by Salman Rushdie and Chimimanda Ngozi Adichie. I also want to read more classics of African-American literature, including Jean Toomer’s Cane, James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time, and Ralph Ellison’s The Invisible Man. I also want to try to get to some classics I haven’t read, namely Middlemarch by George Eliot. I don’t know if this is my year to try the Russians again or not. I have been told by a wise authority that the best translators are Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky. I know a good translator is very important, and it could be why I have not had luck before.

Another reading goal I have is to try to be more active in the reading challenges in which I participate. Typically, all I do is keep track of the books that meet the challenges, but often challenge hosts have special linkup posts and other activities on their own blogs, and I rarely participate. I want to do better this year. I am terrible in general at keeping up with other blogs. I would like to do better.

Another related goal: I need to cull books I don’t want to keep from my stacks and do something with them. I have a lot of books. I am never going to say too many (no such thing). There are a lot of books I don’t think I will ever re-read and don’t need to consult again, either. I just need to get rid of them. I suppose I could be more active on PaperBackSwap, but I’m disappointed they are charging money for the service now—beyond the price of postage. I suppose they have to sustain themselves, but it soured me on them a bit.

A final goal: stop messing around with books that are not grabbing me. I bought some books this year, and they didn’t grab me, so I felt like I should read them since I bought them. That’s silly. I should just get rid of them if they aren’t grabbing me, and I shouldn’t be giving them more than 50 pages. I need to remember there are a lot of books out there I want to read—good ones—and I need to be better about wasting time on books that are not working for me, even if I spent money on them. I know I should go to the library, but I always think I might need the books longer than they allow, and what if I want to keep them (yes, I know I could always buy them after the fact if that’s the case). I should probably make it a goal to use my library more, actually. They do have Overdrive, and I enjoyed reading books that way in the past.

What are your reading goals for the year?

2016 Reading Goals

2016 Reading Challenge

2016 Reading Challenge
Dana has
read 0 books toward her goal of 55 books.

The beginning of the year is a good time to reading goals for the year. I have decided to increase goal from reading 52 books last year to 55 this year. Given that I surpassed my goal of 52 books last year by 10 books, it might seem like I’m low-balling a bit, but I had never even managed to read 52 books in a year before, and I don’t want to make myself stress out over a reading goal, of all things. I decided to increase it a little bit and see if 2015 was a fluke or not.

I also now have a page for keeping track of my reading challenges. I don’t know why I didn’t think of creating a page before, but I didn’t. I have rearranged a few small things on this blog as well. Most of the stuff is in the same place.

I ultimately decided in the middle of 2015 to stop using Shelfari. It has one feature that I really like: it lets you keep track of multiple reads, even of the same edition. Goodreads lets you mark how many times you have read a book, but it doesn’t let you count a read during multiple years. I had to create tags in order to do that. I know this feature request has been made of Goodreads, and I’m not sure what they will decide to do about it, but I wish they’d implement it. I ultimately decided not to keep track of books on Shelfari anymore, but I didn’t delete my account. Most of my book friends are on Goodreads, and it’s a bit more social, so I am not going to keep using Shelfari, even though I think Goodreads could take a few pointers from Shelfari and have a better service for readers. I am not the only person who re-reads all the time, I know.

I don’t know what is happening with the Where Are You Reading Challenge. I’m thinking about creating a mapping/book setting challenge that is similar. Does that sound like something anyone would be interested in?

I’m not going to make goals to read a certain number of genres (except for the Historical Fictional Challenge). I think I have a better time when I just read whatever I want, which just makes sense. Last year, I got a bit bogged down in the first half of the year with some challenges that were more rigid. Later this year, of course I will do the R. I. P. Challenge in the fall, but I don’t anticipate taking on any more challenges unless the book setting one is a go.

Vincent Van Gogh

Reading Challenges and Goals for 2014

Vincent Van GoghAh, yet another year in which I failed to complete most of the reading challenges and goals I set for myself. That’s fine. There is next year! Hope springs eternal and all that. I’ll do a recap of this year shortly, but I’m blaming my failures on three things: 1) the Doctor, 2) soapmaking, and 3) work. Not precisely in that order, but you get the idea.

But I do have some goals in mind for next year, and I have some reading challenges in mind, too.

I have tried and failed to read 52 books the last couple of years. I think perhaps that one year I read 50 was a fluke, especially given my current schedule. I have zero commute, so I can’t read books on the way to work anymore. I didn’t realize how much extra reading time that gave me, I guess. My goal for 2014 is a more modest 30 books. I actually did come close to reading 30 books this year, so perhaps reading 30 books is a goal that is within my grasp. I am all for challenging myself, but I hate the feeling of frustration that comes with falling so short of my goals that I actually give up and don’t read. That really happened to me this year. Stupid, yes. I didn’t say it made sense.

2014 Historical Fiction ChallengeI love participating in the Historical Fiction Reading Challenge each year. Historical fiction is one of my favorite genres. I plan to shoot for the Victorian Reader level of five books. I hope I will read more, and if I do, that’s great, but seeing as one of my other goals is to try to get through some books I’ve been wanting to read for a long time and try to stay on top of new releases better, I don’t want to box myself in too much by taking on a large number in any one genre.

As I have the last couple of years, I also plan to create my reading map and participate in the Where Are You Reading Challenge. Google Maps is more difficult to use with their new interface. I am hoping I don’t have to fight it too much.

When they come along, I hope to participate in Carl‘s challenges the Once Upon a Time Challenge and the R.I.P. Challenge. Actually, the R.I.P. Challenge is a must for me every year, but it’s been a while since I did Once Upon a Time.

Foodies ChallengeI always like to do something a little different, so this year, I’ll be trying out the Foodies Challenge. I’m not sure what I’ll read yet, but I’ll participate at Short Order Cook level (1-3 books). It might be just what I need to finally read [amazon text=For All the Tea in China&asin=0143118749], [amazon_link id=”0500286965″ target=”_blank” ]The True History of Chocolate[/amazon_link], [amazon_link id=”0393343618″ target=”_blank” ]Extra Virginity: The Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil[/amazon_link], [amazon_link id=”0061288519″ target=”_blank” ]97 Orchard: An Edible History of Five Immigrant Families in One New York Tenement[/amazon_link], or [amazon_link id=”0385340869″ target=”_blank” ]The Cookbook Collector[/amazon_link]. Or maybe I could finish [amazon_link id=”0142001619″ target=”_blank” ]Salt: A World History[/amazon_link]! Anyone participating in this challenge looking for a good novel might try [amazon_link id=”B0043RSJQS” target=”_blank” ]The Kitchen Daughter[/amazon_link], which is an excellent foodie read.

2014 Witches and Witchcraft ChallengeOne final challenge: the 2014 Witches & Witchcraft Reading Challenge. I love reading about witches, and I have few books I’ve been meaning to read forever that would be perfect. Perhaps it will even prompt me to pick up [amazon_link id=”0143123629″ target=”_blank” ]Shadow of Night[/amazon_link] (All Souls Trilogy, Bk 2). I’ll go for Initiate level (1-5 Witchy books). We have a goal of visiting Salem again now that we’re so close. For the record, Salem is one the most awesome places to visit. You should try to get there if you can.

Update, 12/29: Thanks to Iliana, I have discovered the Postal Reading Challenge. I love the idea of focusing on epistolary novels. As I told Iliana, I used to collect stamps as a child, and I already have one book in mind for the challenge A History of Britain in Thirty-six Postage Stamps. I’ll go for the Postcard Level of four books. I hope I can figure out three other books to read.

Also thanks to Iliana, by a circuitous route, I found out about the 2014 Book Bingo Reading Challenge. I couldn’t resist that one. Using your reads to play Bingo? I mean, how much fun is that? Sold!

So that’s it. I think these are much more reasonable goals. Of course, it must be said one should shoot for the stars and all that, but I’m hoping by setting obtainable goals, I’ll feel less discouraged about my reading this year.

Image Vincent Van Gogh

Reading Challenges and Goals for 2013

I need to preface this post with the admission that 2012 was a wash for me as far as meeting any of my reading goals, including reading challenges. However, I also moved and started a new job, so I have forgiven myself and decided to make 2013 a better reading year. To that end, I’m going to participate in some of my favorite challenges, but I’m not going to stress myself out by taking on more than I can handle, nor am I going to try to host my own challenge this year.

Historical Fiction Reading ChallengeHistorical Tapestry hosts a Historical Fiction Challenge every year, and 2013 is no exception. As historical fiction is one of my favorite genres, I don’t need much prodding to participate in this challenge. I want to be more active this year, however. I plan to participate at the Renaissance Reader level of 10 books, but I will perhaps read more than that.

Carl‘s R.I.P. Challenge is usually announced later, and I always participate in that challenge as well. I may also participate in his Once Upon a Time Challenge this year, too, as I plan to read a bit more fantasy in 2013.

As of right now, I haven’t seen any Jane Austen reading challenges out there, but I plan to re-read [amazon asin=0674049160&text=Pride and Prejudice], starting on the 200th anniversary of its publication and will be trying some other Austen-related books.

Once again, I will also participate in the Where are You Reading Challenge. I love creating Google Maps of my reading progress and seeing patterns in the places where the novels I read are set. This challenge has no set number of books. I simply need to remember to create a Google Map pin for each book I read.

2013 Where are You Reading Challenge

Another challenge? Make new soap recipes based on my favorite 5-star reads in 2013. I figure that’s doable because not every book will be 5 stars, and I love making soap. In fact, it may this new hobby prevented me from reading perhaps 10 of the books I intended to read this year. But I don’t regret it at all.

Another goal I have is to read 50 books, a goal I failed to achieve this year. I came close in 2011, though 50 was not my goal that year. I barely made it to half 50 books this year. I think I can do it if I dedicate myself to the task.

Finally, I would like to blog more. I didn’t blog as much here or anywhere this year. I fell desperately behind in my own feed reader. I think perhaps I should use some of my time off to figure out how to follow the blogs I enjoy a little better and leave more regular comments, too.

What do you have in mind for your next year of reading?

A Young Girl Reading, Jean-Honoré Fragonard

2012 Reading Goals

A Young Girl Reading, Jean-Honoré Fragonard

Happy New Year! Let’s all hope we survive the end of the Mayan calendar this year, mainly so people on the “History” Channel (lately, I’m thinking some sort of federal authority ought to require them to use the quotation marks) will quit talking about it.

I met my reading goal of 50 books in 2011, which was my best ever year. While I do want to read more books this year, I am not sure I could read much more than 50, so I’m setting this year’s goal at 52, only a moderate increase over last year’s goal. It also rounds out to an even book a week.

I am participating in the following reading challenges this year:

All of these challenges allow for books to be counted for more than one challenge, which is great. Otherwise I’d need to pare back.

Last year I made it a goal to improve the tagging on my blog posts, which is still an area I need to work on. I am posting more regularly, and the review posts include the authors’ names now, which I think has contributed to making them more useful. I need to work on titling meme posts so that they are more descriptive of the content rather than just titling them after the meme and using the date. I need to get back in the habit of doing Teaser Tuesdays. I realized in looking back at my posts that I actually liked those posts quite a lot more than I thought I did. Also, I think it’s a good way to introduce readers to favorite quotes in books. Another goal I have for my blogging is to post more often about book and literature-related issues, which I started out doing, but gradually cut back on. In reflecting on my favorite posts of the year 2011, I found those types of posts were more frequently my own favorites, and it stands to reason that if I liked them better, perhaps readers do too.

I have some other reading goals for the year.

  1. Find the time/energy to revive the faculty book club I have led at my school. My colleagues have been asking me about it.
  2. Comment more on reading blogs. I subscribe to many in my feed reader, but I don’t leave comments as often as I think about it.
  3. Clean out my blogroll/RSS feed reader once a month and eliminate bloggers who haven’t posted in a while (unless they announced a hiatus and plan to be back).
  4. Read books set in a larger variety of locales. I don’t want to push it artificially, and I want to read what I want to read, but I did notice the books I read this year were clustered in two locations: the east coast of the U.S. and the U.K. I guess it makes sense, but even with the U.S., I only read two books set in western states (Colorado and Washington) and one set in the midwest (Wisconsin, though that was [amazon_link id=”0060558121″ target=”_blank” ]American Gods[/amazon_link], which is set all over America, and I picked the place the character settled down the longest).

Outside of reading, blogging, and reading about blogging, I have some more goals for the year.

  1. Continue the exercise regimen I started before Christmas. My Christmas present to myself (from the family, I guess) was a Wii Fit, which my sister said was great for beginners. I started a yoga/aerobic/strength training regimen that I have been faithfully doing every day for about a week (barring Christmas, mainly because I didn’t take the Wii down to my parents’ house, where we spent Christmas). It’s actually been a lot of fun to use the Wii Fit program.
  2. Learn to knit. My sister learned from watching videos, and frankly, I hope I can teach myself using videos or tutorials rather than take a class. But I should like to learn so I can make Hogwarts house scarves for everyone in the family according to their house colors (Maggie and Sarah are Hufflepuffs, Steve’s a Slytherin, I’m a Ravenclaw, and Dylan hasn’t been officially sorted in Pottermore, so I’ll either let him pick or sign him up for Pottermore when it’s out of beta). Maggie and Sarah seemed to like the idea of having Hufflepuff scarves, so it sounds like a plan.
  3. Cook more. It’s hard with work and everything else, but it’s more economical. I have done fairly well this year, but there is always room for improvement. I get bored of the same old things over and over. I like trying out new (simple) recipes and saving the more time-consuming/difficult stuff for weekends, holidays, or breaks. Cooking more means planning better and perhaps even a membership at one of those wholesale warehouses. I have a family of five, and we go through the food. I need to be smarter about the food budget. I have quite a few food-related books on my TBR list, too. I love watching TV about food and reading about food.

What about you? Do you have any reading goals or other goals for 2012?

2011 Reading Goals

James Jebusa Shannon 1910

I didn’t set any reading goals last year. In 2007 I read only 14 books in the whole year, and I think seeing other folks’ reading totals coupled with the morbid realization that I don’t have an infinite amount of time to read all the books I’d like to made me want to step up the number of books I read. I did better in 2008 at 23 books, and in 2009 I read 29. In 2010 I read 40 books. In the interests of improving each year, I hope to read 50 books in 2011.

I’m participating in the following reading challenges:

I haven’t previous declared my intention of signing up for the Sense and Sensibility Bicentenary Challenge. I thought about it for a while because I just re-read Sense and Sensibility this year. I decided I could save it for a late-2011 re-read—after all, I couldn’t let the bicentenary of one of my favorite novels by one of my favorite authors pass by with no celebration at all! Plus, The Annotated Sense and Sensibility comes out in May, and it should offer a deeper and newer way to experience the book. I am not sure which other books in the challenge I’ll read. I know I won’t be reading The Three Weissmanns of Westport because I read it in 2010, and I didn’t like it so much that I would want to read it again that soon. However, I have tried very few of the Austen sequels, and this challenge might be an opportunity to do so. I am committing to the Neophyte level of 1-4 books. I’m most interested in these, in addition to The Annotated Sense and Sensibility:

I can’t say for certain I am done signing up for challenges because some of them run later in the year, and as you can see, many of the challenges are similar enough that I can count books for more than one challenge. I like reading challenges because it’s a way of feeling like a part of a reading community or book club of sorts. I will be signing up for Carl’s challenges when they occur later this year for sure.

In terms of blogging, I want to improve my posts by tagging them better. I often forget tags. For instance, I like to tag all the books I read on my Kindle with my Kindle tag, but when I went through some older posts, I missed tagging probably five or six books. It doesn’t make my blog as user-friendly as I’d like when I don’t tag properly. Also, I want to begin including author names in my book review blog post titles. I haven’t been in the habit of doing that, and it might be helpful for readers. I would also like to maintain my regular posting schedule as much as possible. I have finished my master’s now, so I hope I’ll have more time for reading and blogging. I would like to become more involved in the reading blogger community.

Do you have any reading goals? Participating in any challenges you want to share?

photo credit: freeparking