Why challenge yourself to read more this year? Reading stimulates your brain and reduces stress. If you’re too busy to sit down with a book, then you can listen to one while driving, working out, doing chores, or even getting ready for bed.
Step One: Pick a Challenge
Whether your New Year’s resolution is to read more, or you just want to shake up your regular reading habits with a fun new spin, there are choose-your-own-adventure challenges out there for you. Rather than squeezing yourself into a one-size-fits-all reading mold, these challenges let you pick how many and what kinds of books you read.
I like to go super simple and DIY with Goodreads, a popular book-tracking and social media site. I set my goal — whatever I want — and then add books to my virtual shelves as I begin reading them. Goodreads has standard shelves like “Want To Read” and “Currently Reading,” and also let’s me create my own, like “Graphic Novels” and “Poetry.” Once I mark a book complete, it shows up in my challenge tally. Goodreads tracks the percentage of my goal that I’ve met, and lets me know whether I’m on track or not. Many users join communities of like-minded readers to discuss what they’re reading, and help each other keep on track. I stick to
annoying updating my friends with brief reviews, star-ratings, and an end-of-year post when I hit my goal.
You can also join one of the many book challenge community within Goodreads for more structure and social interaction with readers around the globe. Some other popular reading challenges, like Book Riot, also use Goodreads communities for their social components.
Book Riot’s Read Harder Challenge is now beginning it’s fifth year. Book Riot assigns readers 24 tasks to accomplish during one spin of the sun. Readers can count a single title for multiple tasks, so the total number of titles you read is entirely up to you. To quote founder Rachel Manwill, “We encourage you to push yourself, to take advantage of this challenge as a way to explore topics or formats or genres that you otherwise wouldn’t try. But this isn’t a test. No one is keeping score and there are no points to post.” If you do want to brag about your reading accomplishments, you can use the #ReadHarder tag on social media.
Another popular challenge, also in its fifth year, is the POPSUGAR Reading Challenge. POPSUGAR offers a list of 50 book prompts — 40 regular plus 10 more “advanced” prompts for the extra adventurous. Readers are encouraged to push their boundaries and share their progress on Instagram with the hashtag #popsugarreadingchallenge. The editors have provided a slideshow of recommendations for all 50 prompts, but readers are not limited to these titles. POPSUGAR also maintains a Goodreads group.
For anyone who strives to get through a book a week for the next year, there is the 52 Books in 52 Weeks challenge by Liz Mannegren. “The goals for this challenge are simple,” she says, “stretch yourself out of your regular reading habits, read more, and have fun with it!” Her number one rule is to not stress about getting through all 52 books, your real goal is to read more. If you’re on Facebook, then you can join the Facebook group for this challenge.
Step Two: Visit the Library
Looking for book recommendations? The library is here for you any time you’re stuck on what to read next. Try out the online Book Concierge, or stop to talk to any of our friendly librarians at the youth, teen and adult public service desks.
Looking for additional reading motivation? The library has you covered here, as well! Adults can sign up for one or more of our book discussions. Kids and teens can read titles from the Illinois state book award lists (Monarch, Bluestem, Caudill, and Lincoln) and vote for their favorites. It’s also not too late to join our Winter Reading Challenge and earn prizes. Kids have the additional opportunity to stretch themselves and earn patches by joining the Reading Patch Club.
Step Three: Read