Skip to main content

Reading challenges

I’ve been thinking about reading challenges. Not just possible future 52 Books challenges for myself, but reading challenges in general.

A reading challenge is a good way to get some focus into your reading if you feel you don't know what to read next, you want to expand your reading horizons, become an expert on a given subject, or break out of a bad reader's block. Hunting down the books can be half the fun if you assign yourself a specific set of books and they turn out to be out of print or otherwise hard to find.

Different challenges suit different people. Some may do a modest book-a-week challenge for one year or plan to read all of a specific author’s books, while others may be more ambitious and embark on a lifetime reading plan of every book mentioned in Harold Bloom’s The Western Canon. Some may want to cover every number in the Dewey catalogue. Including the fractions would be a bit too much for most, but by taking whole numbers only you would get 999 books and many years of targeted reading.

Here is a list of more possible reading challenges:
*All the books that have won a specific literary award, for example the Pulitzer, the Nobel, the Booker, the Golden Dagger, etc. Here's a listof some literary awards.
*The 100 best novels or non-fiction books of the 20th century.
*An A-Z challenge: read, in alphabetical order, books whose author’s last (or first) name begins with a given letter of the alphabet, or read books with ABC titles.
*One book from or about every country in the world, a chosen continent, or the states of the USA.
*Arctic and Antarctic expeditions.
*Books about setting world records.
*Books that have been banned or challenged.
*The books that formed the foundations of a specific genre, for example science fiction or mystery.
*Every book in a given series, for example Star Trek, The Cat Who... or Discworld.
*One book from each year of the 20th century.
*The top best-sellers from a given period of time.
* Or you can do an unfocused challenge, like I did in my first 52 books challenge. The only rules were that I could not read the same author twice, rereads were only allowed if I had forgotten what the book was about, each book had to belong to a different sub-genre than the last, and I would try to read as many new genres as possible.

Edit: Readers, if you have suggestions for interesting reading challenges, I would like to see them. Post ideas or links in comments.

I have received one suggestion so far - read the comments to see what Tim had to say.

Comments

Tim said…
Hi how about a challenge to read only books by dead authors? A character in Murakami's "Norwegian Wood" only read books by authors who had been dead at least thirty years.One of his reasons being that "if you only read the books that everyone else is reading,you can only think what everyone else is thinking.Thats the world of hicks and slobs"...
tim
Bibliophile said…
That's an interesting one, and gives a wide range to choose from. Thanks for the suggestion, Tim

Popular posts from this blog

Book 40: The Martian by Andy Weir, audiobook read by Wil Wheaton

Note : This will be a general scattershot discussion about my thoughts on the book and the movie, and not a cohesive review. When movies are based on books I am interested in reading but haven't yet read, I generally wait to read the book until I have seen the movie, but when a movie is made based on a book I have already read, I try to abstain from rereading the book until I have seen the movie. The reason is simple: I am one of those people who can be reduced to near-incoherent rage when a movie severely alters the perfectly good story line of a beloved book, changes the ending beyond recognition or adds unnecessarily to the story ( The Hobbit , anyone?) without any apparent reason. I don't mind omissions of unnecessary parts so much (I did not, for example, become enraged to find Tom Bombadil missing from The Lord of the Rings ), because one expects that - movies based on books would be TV-series long if they tried to include everything, so the material must be pared down

List love: 10 recommended stories with cross-dressing characters

This trope is almost as old as literature, what with Achilles, Hercules and Athena all cross-dressing in the Greek myths, Thor and Odin disguising themselves as women in the Norse myths, and Arjuna doing the same in the Mahabaratha. In modern times it is most common in romance novels, especially historicals in which a heroine often spends part of the book disguised as a boy, the hero sometimes falling for her while thinking she is a boy. Occasionally a hero will cross-dress, using a female disguise to avoid recognition or to gain access to someplace where he would never be able to go as a man. However, the trope isn’t just found in romances, as may be seen in the list below, in which I recommend stories with a variety of cross-dressing characters. Unfortunately I was only able to dredge up from the depths of my memory two book-length stories I had read in which men cross-dress, so this is mostly a list of women dressed as men. Ghost Riders by Sharyn McCrumb. One of the interwove

Icelandic folk-tale: The Devil Takes a Wife

Stories of people who have made a deal with and then beaten the devil exist all over Christendom and even in literature. Here is a typical one: O nce upon a time there were a mother and daughter who lived together. They were rich and the daughter was considered a great catch and had many suitors, but she accepted no-one and it was the opinion of many that she intended to stay celebrate and serve God, being a very devout  woman. The devil didn’t like this at all and took on the form of a young man and proposed to the girl, intending to seduce her over to his side little by little. He insinuated himself into her good graces and charmed her so thoroughly that she accepted his suit and they were betrothed and eventually married. But when the time came for him to enter the marriage bed the girl was so pure and innocent that he couldn’t go near her. He excused himself by saying that he couldn’t sleep and needed a bath in order to go to sleep. A bath was prepared for him and in he went and