Bookish New Year’s Resolutions

img_7300

At Austin’s Trail of Lights, 2016

Last year, I started the Read Harder reading challenge. I was enthusiastic, making the list in color and planning out the books I wanted to read. And then I just… stopped.

The problem, I realized, was that it wasn’t fun for me. I made it harder on myself than it needed to be (which is something I do). One of the challenge points was to read a book by a transgendered author. I read Six Months, Three Days by Charlie Jane Anders, and I loved it. but it was only a novella, and I decided that didn’t count. So then I started reading I’ve Got a Time Bomb by Sybil Lamb. And. I. Hated. It.

I started looking at some of the other challenge points. A book about politics. A book set in the Middle East. A book of historical fiction set before 1900. And they looked overwhelming. Not fun. So I just stopped.

But I really liked the reading challenge I did in 2015, so I thought about what I liked and didn’t like about the challenge.

I like it when it’s a scavenger hunt, playful.

I don’t like it when the criteria are too specific.

This year, I’m going to do the Popsugar reading challenge. I’ve already started thinking about what books I can use in the different categories. And on Goodreads, there’s a group devoted to the reading challenge, so we can all get different ideas for the various categories, in case they’re difficult to find books.

Hopefully, I complete the challenge this year. Or, if not complete it, I just hope I don’t get frustrated and give up. Because looking back on the 2016 Read Harder challenge, I think I would have enjoyed it if I didn’t get fixated on that one book I didn’t finish. I don’t read to challenge myself or to impress people. I read to entertain myself. And as long as I don’t lose sight of that, I should be in good shape.

Are you doing a reading challenge this year? Which one?

Why I Didn’t End Up Doing a Book Challenge This Year

img_7065In 2015, I did the reading challenge, and I enjoyed it.  There was a different theme every month, and I did about 10 months out of 12.  In 2016, I started the Read Harder challenge, and ticked a couple categories off.

And then I lost interest.

I ended up reading a book I didn’t like.  I tried and tried and tried to get through it, and I couldn’t.  As of this writing, I haven’t finished it, though I still want to.  It wasn’t that I hated the book; it was more that it had no discernible plot.

After putting that book aside, I thought about going back to the Read Harder challenge, but I’d lost my taste for it.  I realized that I have a lot of book lists I’m working on.  I have a classics list I’m working my way through, a book club, and a friend and I who choose books together.  That’s not including the fact that I read a lot of YA books to stay current on what’s being published (since I write YA) and reading books for fun.

While I liked the idea of the Read Harder challenge, in the end it just didn’t work for me.  I may look at the challenge for 2017, and if I like it, I’ll give it a try.  Or maybe I’ll look for a challenge that doesn’t have as many books on it, or fits with my tastes a little better.

I think I lost sight of the fact that the challenge was meant to be a game instead of a task. It became work, rather than a scavenger hunt. I love books that make me think or books that make me see the world differently. I love discovering books I wouldn’t have read on my own. But I don’t like taking it all to seriously, and that’s what I did for a little while.

What do you think of book challenges? Are you planning to join one for 2017?