For most people, a new year brings New Year’s resolutions. These may include major life changes, shedding bad habits or just putting the past behind you. For me though, it means exactly one thing: a reading challenge. About two years ago, my girlfriend and I stumbled across a reading challenge on the internet and decided that it might be fun to give it a shot, not only to broaden our reading horizons but also to throw in some friendly competition between two already avid readers.
The idea is simple: rather than having a list of specific titles to read in the coming year, we prepare a list of prompts and read a book that fits into each category. We selected a pre-made list the first year, and every December since then, we have scoured the internet for suggestions and compiled our own challenges. We pull ideas from some of the more popular reading challenges on the internet or invent categories ourselves. For example, one of our 2017 prompts was “a book with an unreliable narrator.” Ronnie read We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson, and I read The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon. Neither one of us would have chosen to read these books of our own accord, but we both loved them. The final list is handwritten out on paper in black Sharpie and taped to the fridge, where we check off boxes and fill in the blanks as the year progresses.
Sometimes the search for the right book can be as exciting as actually reading it. One of our categories last year was “a book from a genre you’ve never heard of.” Try searching for books in that category; you might be surprised at how deep the rabbit hole goes. I managed to find and read a book that was written entirely without the letter E. This year, we’re already well underway, and I’m personally thrilled by some of the books I have lined up. Without further ado, here is the list we’ve dreamed up:
The 2018 Reading Challenge:
A book published this year
A book chosen for you by your partner
A book published posthumously
A young adult novel
A book that’s over 1,000 pages
A book that’s older than you
A book from a thrift store
A classic you’ve never read
A book by a debut author
A book by an author you’ve never read
A book written by an author who has won a significant award
A book you both read
Feel free to print out a copy of the list (or better yet, write it out in black Sharpie) and try it yourself. You never know what you might find out there when you’re looking outside your comfort zone. If you have any ideas for fun categories, leave a comment below. We could always use suggestions for next year’s list.