From the Library
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From the Library

Four Challenges to Help Accomplish your Reading Goals in 2022

and how I plan to use each in building my list.

Photo by Pickawood on Unsplash

For many bibliophiles, our favorite part of setting New Year’s goals is deciding what we want to read and what challenges we want to take on in the New Year. It’s also figuring out how to work through that ever-growing to be read list (TBR), whether that contains books we have purchased or those we can’t stop thinking about from the library.

There are a few different ways to challenge ourselves during the year. There are both long-term (yearly) challenges or short-term (monthly) challenges that can build upon each other.

Today, I wanted to discuss four different types of challenges to consider in the New Year.

1. Take On a Year-Long Readathon

There are a few excellent challenges that span the entire year. A few of my favorites include GoodReads Around the Year (gives prompts totaling 52- one book for each week of the year). In addition, PopSugar- although not released for 2022 at the time of writing, consists of 52 individual prompts- one for each week. Finally, Buzzwordathon (gives one word or set of words for the first week of each month. The goal is to read at least one book corresponding to the buzzword).

Pros

  1. Each readathon offers prompts that challenge the reader to step outside of their comfort zone when choosing books.
  2. Encourages variety and diversity of books to be read
  3. Can help to cross off a large amount (at least 52 books) of books on the TBR.

Cons

  1. Not every prompt will be easy to fill or can be filled with a specific book you may already own.
  2. It is a commitment of at least one book a week, which may overlap with other reading projects you might want to do.

I plan to do GoodReads Around the Year in 2022. It’s a challenge that I’ve been meaning to do for a few years now; I love the fact that it mixes the topics of title, cover, theme, setting, character, genre, Author/Date Published, and books that have won awards to create a compelling list of prompts.

2. Go Deeper Into a Longer Series or with a Particular Author

Often, through reading one book, we discover worlds, series, and authors we love. We may want to spend more time reading books that embody those elements. There are series that may be longer than they appear at face value.

For example, I recently picked up a copy of Plum Spooky by Janet Evanovich. A quick Google search tells me there are 27 books as of 2020. If I love the book enough and want to read the series, it will take longer than I expected for just one book.

Similarly, there are reading orders of series that may contain other materials. For example, if reading the Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer, there are essays in Stars Above that serve as bridges between the novels.

These are not the only series that may seem longer than expected but serve as good examples.

In love with a series or author, why not consider taking time to read a book or two per month?

Pros

  1. More time to focus on a series or author you already know you love.
  2. You can get a more focused view of that author’s collected works.
  3. You may be surprised at the twists and turns along the way.

Cons

  1. Depending on how many books are chosen, this may restrict the reading time for reading outside the challenge.
  2. It may turn into a larger project, as in the example of my reading goal.
  3. Feelings of burnout or overwhelm from continuing with the same series.

My goal: I have been in love with Stephen King’s work for 22 years. I found Rose Madder when I was 12, and since then, he’s been my favorite.

In 2017, I came across the Dark Tower series by way of a paperback copy of The Gunslinger, and the movie The Dark Tower was released during the summer.

I always thought it would be awesome to get through the series. I made an effort in 2018 but only got through the first three novels.

In searching for the best order to read the eight books in, I came across a few sources that encouraged reading between 22–26 books to understand the world of the Dark Tower better and read King’s Magnum Opus. The list includes both short stories as well as novels.

I plan to cover King’s series, reading by this guideline. I will do this by reading one book per month unless there is a short story which I will double with a novel. This will take me about two years- but for me, King is worth it.

3. Decide to do a readathon per month (or multiple?)

This is an option that has something for everyone. Each readathon offer prompts to choose your books to fulfill. There is everything from competitive readathons where you compete on a team for points to choosing prompts from a bingo card.

In the past few months, I’ve participated in readathons that allowed me to:

  • Choose books by playing monopoly
  • Choose Team Angel to compete against Team Hellhound in a challenge based on group participation and showing up to events. The prompts were fun to complete, but the events were even more so.
  • Choose Team Zombie and read eight horror books that were perfect for Halloween. Competitive readathon in which every page and book read made a difference towards being the winning team.
  • Mixed reading and self-care while taking on this bingo card challenge encouraging reading books already owned.
  • I went through the Disney parks at Walt Disney World by completing prompts based on shows, snacks, and attractions.

There are many different readathons offered per month that can be found using a quick YouTube or Twitter search.

Pros

  • A fun way to cross off books from your TBR.
  • Spans one month, so if unable to do or complete, there is no “falling behind” beyond that month.
  • It can appeal to your competitive nature depending on which challenge you choose.

Cons

  • Very easy to commit to more than one which can lead to you becoming overwhelmed.
  • If you love the hosts and challenge, you may only get to do each once per year if it’s recurring. Some challenges happen a few times a year or maybe a one-time-only deal.

My goal: It’s harder to give a more in-depth goal than to say that I’ll complete at least one a month.

4. Read a Percentage of Your Owned TBR

Perfect for those of us who are collectors or suddenly find ourselves with a large sum of books. This can happen through book sales (library fundraisers that are $5 for a bag of books are my weakness) or through receiving a large number from friends. This can also happen through subscriptions or just acquiring a few that sit forlornly on our shelves.

I would venture to say that I’m not the only one who buys many books and then ignores them. I’m a library girl at heart. My stash of owned books was perfect during 2020, but I was in the doors as soon as libraries re-opened.

So, what to do about those books if you don’t want to do a massive un-haul without giving your books a fair hearing or going off a hunch a la Marie Kondo’s theme of sparking joy (from the book blurb)?

Make a list of the books you have in your collection- some will be books that are already read (and therefore will be happy rereads); others will be books you have yet to encounter.

Each of the methods listed above will be helpful in checking off some of your books. However, here are a few additional ones:

  • build a monopoly board that focuses on the main themes you have. Use community chest for additional prompts and chance cards to list specific books
  • create a TBR box or jar. Write either prompts or the particular title of each book.
  • Assign each book a number and use a random number generator. The number that comes up is your next read.
  • Use a random color generator. Which book comes the closest to matching the color generated?
  • Group books based on genre, themes, or feelings you feel you might experience while reading. Mood read your way through each month.
  • Make a list and roll some dice: I adore YouTube content creator Jessie Mae’s way of choosing books. First, she makes a list based on categories she wants to read during the month. Then, she rolls two six-sided die and makes her TBR pile. She intentionally chooses more books than she thinks she’ll read during the month, so she still has a choice instead of a stringent list. This is also good in the case of books you don’t want to finish.

Make a goal to read a certain percentage- 25%, 50%, 65%? How much of your shelves do you want to clear off by the end of 2022?

Pros:

  • Having the ability to decide which books on your shelves deserve the space given.
  • Helpful with decluttering before a large move or to clear space
  • Decrease of consumption during the year. Instead of buying, why not choose to use what you have?

Cons

  • Spending more time reading what could be backlist books if reading new releases is important to you.
  • Could limit the sense of adventure offered by going into a library or bookstore (unless your collection resembles a library- preaching to the choir here)

My plan: Right now, I have no idea how many books are on my owned TBR list. I know that I want to go through a large portion- at least 50%. This was inspired by finding a 700+ page book on my shelves that I hated almost the moment I started reading it. It had taken up space for years and was quickly donated. I plan to list the books I own on each level of my house before December 31st. I look forward to having a smaller, more concise collection of favorites by 2023.

Which methods do you use when creating your yearly goals?

I hope to have given you a few ideas of ways to accomplish your TBR. Are your methods similar or different? There is no one way that is better than another. However, these are a few of my favorites. In the comments, let me know which was your favorite or if you have an idea I haven’t considered.

Thank you so much for reading. I appreciate you making my words a part of your day. For more of my content, follow my Twitter at RachellaPage. I usually update with weekly updates and with a brief review of each book I finish.

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Rachella Angel Page

Rachella Angel Page

Writer, wife, lifelong learner. I write about personal development, emotional wellness, relationships and lifestyle. rachellaangelpage@yahoo.com

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