I’ve always been kind of a lazy reader. I like to read, and I read a lot of books, which often impresses people.
But the fact is that I tend to read the same books over and over. And over. I like visiting the same worlds and visiting my friends in those worlds repeatedly. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing that I do this. After all, the sheer number of words I read makes me a fast reader. I sometimes discover new things in a book upon multiple readings.
A year or so ago, one of my friends invited me to join an online book club. The book club chose books I wouldn’t have read on my own. For instance, I probably wouldn’t have read Americanah, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and I loved that book. I’d never heard of Me Before You by JoJo Moyes. Maybe I would have found it eventually, but without my book club, I wouldn’t have found it nearly as quickly as I did thanks to them.
This year, I found a reading challenge that I joined. There were 12 categories on the list, and I only did 10 of 12 books. I just never got around to two of them.
January- A book you’ve been meaning to read- A Prayer for Owen Meany, John Irving
February- A book published this year, Girl on a Train, Paula Hawkins
March- A book in a genre you don’t typically read, The Pioneer Woman: Black Heels to Tractor Wheels, A Love Story, Ree Drummond
April- A book from your childhood, The Babysitters Club, Ann M. Martin
May- A book your mom loves, Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck
June- A book that was originally written in a different language, The 100-Year-Old-Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared, Jonas Jonasson
July- A book “everyone” has read but you- I didn’t get to this one
August- A book you chose because of the cover, The Love Book, Rachel Harris
September A book by a favorite author It, by Stephen King
October- A book recommended by someone with great taste, The Seventh Tower series, Garth Nix
November A book you should have read in high school- I didn’t get to this one either
December A book that’s currently on the bestseller list Ready, Player, One, by Ernest Cline
Overall, I think the reading challenge was good, as it got me to read books I’d been putting off that I just hadn’t gotten around to. I never would have picked up June’s book otherwise, but it was a fun read.
Reading different books gives me a broader view of the world. It helps me see from other perspectives and think about the world in different ways. A Prayer for Owen Meany took me a couple weeks to read, and I had to force myself to keep at it, but once I got through it, I felt accomplished.
Research shows that reading also helps improve memory, empathy, and analytical thinking skills. Reading books with other people gives a sense of community and also generates interesting discussion. I love talking about books with others, because they always think of things I didn’t, or see the book in a different way. Reading and talking about books is pretty much my idea of a happy life.
Next year, I’ll be participating in the 2016 Book Riot Reader Challenge. I’m hoping to stay more organized and finish all the books on the list.
Is anyone else participating in any reading challenges?