Sunday Salon: Challenges and Reading Goals

The number of reading challenges offered in the book blogging world is amazing. There are challenges for every interest under the sun! I joined my first official challenge–the World Party Reading Challenge–a few months ago and, so far, I’ve been keeping up. However, I’ve decided not to formally join any more challenges at this point.

That being said, as more and more bloggers declare their intentions to participate in an ever widening variety of challenges, I’ve begun to look at challenges in another way: as guidelines for establishing my reading goals for 2011. I’m not, at this point, officially joining any of these challenges, but if I were to join some, these would be the ones, as they fit my 2011 goals.

Goal: Read More Classics (hence, my Classics Reclamation Project)

Classics Challenges

Goal: Read from My Own Shelves

TBR Challenges 1

  • The TBR Dare: More dare than challenge (as the name implies), the TBR Dare was offered on Ready When You Are, C.B.. Participants pledge to read only books from their TBR pile for as long as they choose. I actually did sign up for this, with the following pledge: “I pledge to read only books from my TBR pile for as long as I can, with the exception of books I need for challenges or projects to which I’ve already committed. These books I pledge to get from the library, so as to lighten the burden on my shelves and my wallet!”
  • Reading From My Shelves Project: Diane from Bibliophile By the Sea hosted this challenge in 2010, which is where the link will take you. The idea is to read books from your own shelves and pass as many as you want on to other people (blog readers, library sales, friends, etc.). Regardless of whether Diane hosts this challenge again, it’s inspired my own 2011 reading goals.
  • South Asian Challenge: Hosted by Swapna from S. Krishna’s Books, this challenge asks you to read books either by South Asian authors or about South Asia (India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, or the Maldives). I’ve amassed a fair number of qualifying books, mostly from or about India, and would love to make a dent in them in 2011.

TBR Challenges 2

  • Awesome Author Challenge: Hosted by Alyce from At Home With Books, this challenges focuses on the authors that have been recommended to you again and again but which you’ve yet to read. I’ve collected works by several of these authors, and I intend to get to at least some of them in 2011: Kazuo Ishiguro, Alison Weir, Robertson Davies, A.S. Byatt, Julie Orringer, Emma Donoghue, and Hilary Mantel, to name a few!
  • 2nds Challenge (hosted by Katy at A Few More Pages) and I Want More (hosted by Marce at Tea Time with Marce): These aren’t quite the same challenge, but they’re both about reading second books by authors you liked the first time around. For me, that includes Barbara Kingsolver, Jose Saramago, Jonathan Safran Foer, Kate Morton, Jhumpa Lahiri, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, and many others I already have waiting for me on my shelves.

Goal: Expand My Literary Horizons

Expanding My Horizons Challenges

  • GLBT Challenge: The goal of this challenge, hosted by Amanda at The Zen Leaf, is “to read books about GLBT topics and/or by GLBT authors.” I’ve read very little GLBT lit and would like to change that. Anyone have any suggestions as to where I should start?
  • The Dystopia Challenge: One of Bookish Ardour’s reading challenges, this challenge is–as you might have guessed from the name–about reading Dystopian lit. Again, I’ve not read much from this category and want to remedy the situation. Recommendations would be much appreciated!
  • Memorable Memoirs: Hosted by Melissa from The Betty and Boo Chronicles, this challenge focuses on memoirs of all stripes. I used to read more memoirs than I have of late, and I would like to get back to reading them in 2011. I already have a good-sized collection of unread memoirs, but if you have favorites, feel free to alert me to their existence!
  • Editorial Ass’s Project Fill-in-the-Gaps and Pub Writes’s 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die: I definitely feel like I have gaps in my literary experience. While my classics project will cover the older titles on that list, there are plenty of books published after 1969 (my project cutoff) that I would like to have read. At the risk of being overwhelmed by lists, I’m not actually writing out which books constitute this particular category, but I have a sense of which ones they are and would like to tackle at least a few of them.

Your Turn!

Do you participate in reading challenges? Do they take the place of reading goals, or vice versa, or do the two peacefully coexist for you? What challenges have you joined, and/or what reading goals do you have for yourself for 2011?

Join the Conversation


  1. Very funny – I’m doing something very similar this week on my blog, talking about what challenge I’d join if I were joining, and even giving my pool of selections for them. ๐Ÿ˜€

    1. Yes, you certainly have your work cut out for you with your own challenge! It’s so hard to resist the siren call of the myriad others out there though, isn’t it? Here, here!

  2. Those are some really good goals! I am trying to broaden my reading horizons next year also. I think I will actually join 4 challenges, then break down other goals like you have!

    1. That’s a good idea — a challenge per goal, but actually join them. I like that. I look forward to seeing which you choose!

  3. I search out challenges that support my reading goals. For example, I want to read more classics so I joined the Victorian Literature Challenge. Sometimes I see a challenge that sounds really interesting, but I have to stop myself from joining because I’m trying to be less structured in my reading. Challenges for me are more about encouragement to complete personal reading goals.

    1. It’s great that actually joining the challenges helps keep you on track for your reading goals! If you can stick with them and not get overwhelmed (my weak spots!), I think they’d make a great guide for a year’s reading. Best of luck!

  4. I’m glad the Memorable Memoir Challenge is one that is helping to guide your 2011 reading, even if you’re not an official participant. ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m planning to post some possible memoirs to consider, so watch for that post.

    1. I will definitely watch for your suggestions post! It’s a great challenge and one that, I hope, will get me back into the habit of reading memoirs, even if I’m not officially participating!

  5. I went nuts last year with the reading challenges … and then found myself feeling resentful of them halfway through the year (including my own challenge). This year, I decided to only sign up for a few small challenges and to read as I feel like it. That being said, there are so many neat challenges out there that it is hard to resist.

    1. That would totally happen to me. Two is overwhelming me! It’s so hard not to join everything. There really are so many cool challenges being hosted around the blogosphere.

  6. I joined two for this current year, a Tudor one and a general historical fiction one. The host of the Tudor went awol so I haven’t made a big deal of completing it, but I reckon I’ll finish the historical fiction simply because it’s what I’m reading most of at the moment. I guess that makes it less of a challenge, but having actual rules made it fun.

    Enjoy Alison Weir, though take care in your choices because she can be biased to the point of irritation. I love the sound of the awesome author challenge, the only issue is it’ll add even more to your TBR!

    For next year I want to continue my aim to read the classics, making it more important than I did this year. I also want to plough through Elizabeth Chadwick’s work.

    1. Two is manageable, especially if one goes awol! It is fun to complete challenges just by reading what you’d read anyway, isn’t it? I could join the ones focused on reading library books or listening to audiobooks and finish the highest levels without even trying!

      I have Innocent Traitor and Lady Elizabeth by Weir already, so I’ll be starting with those. The Awesome Author challenge won’t be bad for me (can I say that if I’m not actually participating??) because I already own books by all the authors I listed. They’re already in my TBR pile, I just have to read them!

      Nice to have a general goal as well as a more specific one for next year. Good luck!

  7. I am a lot more careful in the challenges I sign up for now, because it’s no fun setting yourself up for failure. I just signed up for four 2011 challenges, plus I think the steampunk challenge I signed up for runs through 2011 too. That should be a pretty manageable number for me.

    1. Definitely not…I get so frustrated when I can’t finish something! Four wouldn’t be too bad if they were in line with your usual reading or reading goals, I think. Good luck!

  8. i just don’t have time to sort out the challenges anymore. I really loved them in the past. But now I’m trying to let my reading be more sporadic: I’ll read what I want to read each month, and not be stressed by how many book I “need” to be finishing.

    I think I’ll be doing more readalongs than challenges….

    1. I’m finding I end up torn when I’m faced with very structured reading goals (i.e. challenges) and books I’d like to read at whim. I do better with guidelines than strict rules. That “need to be finishing” piece is stressful for me, too.

      I’ve only done a couple of readalongs, but I’ve really enjoyed them. I’m definitely planning to participate in more in 2011!

    1. I’m excited! And it’s a dare…which is somehow extra cool. It sounds like you could use the dare to focus your reading at the beginning of 2011 and get a lot done!

  9. I’ve been careful to choose challenges that align with my reading goals, but sometimes that’s rigidly defined (specific books, often classics) and sometimes it’s more general (a trend I’m aiming to establish in my reading choices).

    Even so, I go through phases, alternating between reading loosely and more directedly. I’d like to try to target something in between those two states for 2011. But maybe I’ll end up joining 32 challenges instead!

    1. I’ve always struggled with pinning myself down and tend to swing wildly between reading loosely and directedly, as you say. Any project I undertake has to be carefully considered to ensure I’ll finish it! 32 would be a lot of challenges…I would get so confused. Good luck with whichever you choose to join!

    1. Hmm, I think I’ve been leaving out a letter. That’s not a good way to start. Thank you for your offer; I’ve emailed you and look forward to your recommendations!

  10. I agree with using comments to influence reading goals. I read very little historical fiction, hence why I joined the challenge. Looking forward to seeing what you’ll be reading for all of these goals/challenges/approaches.

    For LGBT, read Emma Donoghue’s KISSING THE WITCH. It will count as one of your “Awesome Authors” too! It’s fairy tales rewritten. Lovely.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *