20 Books of Summer Reading Challenge Check-in

The 20 Books of Summer Reading Challenge started on June 1st and ends September 3, so we’re about halfway through.

Here were my original stacks:

Of the 18 books I read in the last month and a half, only 7 were from the list, and I started and abandoned 1. So with only a month and a half left, I’m less than halfway through.

I knew this was going to be a problem for me, actually reading books from a pre-chosen list. But I’m determined to get through the ones I’ve picked.

I’ve reviewed some of these books in more depth on Goodreads. You can follow me by clicking the button to the right, if you’re interested.

What I’ve read:

  1. Roseblood (meh!- 2 stars)
  2. Bel Canto (great!- 4 stars)
  3. The Couple Next Door (overrated- 2 stars)
  4. The Mouse and the Motorcycle (fun-3 stars)
  5. The Golden Compass (pretty good- 3 stars)
  6. The Subtle Knife (second book in the series, so not as good- 3 stars)
  7. The Amber Spyglass (fantastic, makes the series worth reading- 5 stars)

Abandoned:

  1. Wicked (That one was supposed to be on my “alternate” pile. I guess I got them mixed up… oops)

Those of you who are participating in the reading challenge… how’s it going?

Bookish New Year’s Resolutions

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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?