I have a lot of books in my TBR (aka to be read) pile. In fact, it is as tall as it is deep. And the books are layered in the order I acquired them. It’s almost like an archeological dig; the oldest books are on the bottom and the newest on the top. And because of this structure I seldom go back and read books that have owned for years. I have to remind myself that those books do exist because I do want to read them! In fact there is one book that I keep re-buying. At least once a year I re-buy this book even though I have a copy. But I forget time and again that I own that book because it is at the bottom of my TBR stack.
What to do? Well, I came up with a solution one day after reading a book blog that I follow in Facebook. A reading challenge! So many books that I own and never have gotten around to reading fit the tasks for that particular reading challenge. So, keeping in mind all the books I have, I attempted to complete the Book Riot 2015 Read Harder Challenge.
What is a reading challenge you ask? Well, let me explain. Reading challenges have been around for a while. In fact, while in elementary or middle school you may have participated in the Pizza Hut Book It! Challenge. Remember? You read a certain number of books and earn a certificate for a free Personal Pan Pizza? Well, in the last few years’ book nerds who missed having fun challenges have begun setting up reading challenges on book blogging sites and reading websites. And the challenges range from number of books (Goodreads) to specific genres (reading only women writers or graphic novels, for instance). One of the reasons I follow the Book Riot Challenge is it encourages the reader to read a variety of different genres that may be outside of their comfort zone. And reading a lot of different genres is something I like to do. I don’t limit myself to reading one genre and I buy books in a variety genres. So their challenge would fit my goal of reading books that I already own.
Sadly, I didn’t complete the challenge in 2015. I was five books shy of reading the 24 books. Plus, I did end up buying two books (a graphic novel and a comic book) and borrowing a significant number from the library. But I still count it as a success since it did introduce me to graphic novels. I had not read any even though I know they are a really popular form right now. And it also introduced me to the world of reading challenges out there on the internet. There are challenges to meet everyone’s fancy. So this year I decided to again do the Read Harder 2016 Challenge and the Goodreads challenge. And quite by accident I found myself attempting some challenges I found on Twitter: #ReadMyOwnDamnBooks, #ReadWomenWednesday, #FridayReads, and #WeekendReads. #ReadMyOwnDamnBooks dovetails nicely with my commitment to the Read Harder Challenge. I have decided to again read books from my TBR pile, and if I don’t own something that will fit the task, to borrow from the library. I will not buy any new books for the challenge. Also, I want to read one book per task even though I could use a book for more than one challenge according to the Read Harder guidelines. #ReadMyOwnDamnBooks is reading my own damn books and not buying any new-to-me books until July. Which has also been really hard since I love bookstores. But I’ve only bought one new-to-me book since January. So yay me! #FridayReads and #WeekendReads are exclusively on Twitter and I just take a picture of whatever book I’m reading on Friday and post it with the hashtag on Twitter.
As of this date I’ve completed six tasks and read six books for the Read Harder Challenge. And for the Goodreads Challenge I’ve read 23 of the 52 books I’ve set for myself (last year I read over my goal of 52 books and read 77! That was the first time I’ve ever met and exceeded nothing happened to move the plot along. And the main character seemed stuck as well. But in the end she did move and grow as did the plot. But it might not have needed 900 pages to do it (maybe my goal for that challenge). My favorite read so far for the Read Harder Challenge is Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife by Mary Roach. My least favorite is The Crimson Petal and the White by Michel Faber. And I thought I would really love this one! But there is a huge section where cut out 200 or so pages to tighten it up a bit?
Like many book nerds on the internet I love the challenges. But I think for me the challenges really do help me find and read books that I already own. And have owned for years, in some cases. I like that it gives me an opportunity to look at my bookshelves to find a book that will work for a task. And it makes me appreciate how wide ranging my reading tastes are and have been for a while now. I’m not locked into reading only one genre as I was only a few years ago. But at the same time the challenges help my focus my reading and not be overwhelmed by the large TBR stack.