It's a new year and we all know what that means: Time to start some 2015 reading challenges. Because making New Year's resolutions is all well and good, but you're way more likely to read all those books you said you would if other people are helping you keep score. It's human nature — even we bookworms are social creatures when it comes right down to it. We just like our socialization in between bouts of solitary reading time.
There are all kinds of reading challenges out there, ranging from the genre-specific to the truly arbitrary. Some are long, some are short. Some let you count books for multiple categories, some don't. Some let you choose your level, others expect you to master a certain number of titles before the year is out. But no matter what the nature of the challenge, they're all there to help you read more in 2015, and that is always a good thing.
The thing about reading is that even when you love it, it can be easy to let it fall by the wayside. Life gets busy. Work or homework piles up, as do the dirty dishes in the sink, and at some point the people in your life say that they need to see you or something. You run out of hours in the day for reading, and it's alarmingly easy to look up and realize you haven't read a book for fun in a month.
But with reading challenges, you're not just trying to fulfill some amorphous goal of "read more." You're trying to check things off a list. The list will know if you don't do your reading, and if you're doing a challenge with other people, they'll know, too. So if you're looking for something to keep you honest about that "read more" resolution, take your pick.
This list of 50 books (or technically 52 since one item is to read a trilogy) comes with a handy infographic to use as a checklist, and immediately caught my eye as one of the more fun seeming challenges this year. With items ranging from "read a book with a one word title" to "read a Pulitzer Prize-winner" to "read a book your mom loves" the challenge walks a good line between being very specific but also giving you a lot of leeway in what you read. Plus you know you're intrigued by the idea of reading a book based solely on its cover. Check out the challenge here.
Banned Books Challenge
Reading banned books is important — plus they're usually pretty interesting; we all know that boring stuff doesn't get banned. So this challenge from the Buckling Bookshelves blog is bound to be fun. The blog gives you several levels of participation to chose from, ranging from "Making Waves" to "Leader of the Revolution" and gives you resources for where to find lists of banned and challenged books. All you have to do to be an official participant is review the books you read on Goodreads or other sites. You can sign up here.
I was a little hesitant to include this list because even though Kindred lists more than 20 specific authors, (either as individual people you should read or while giving you a choice between several options), all of those authors are men. Which is really a pretty sucky thing to do. But overall their checklist is too good to pass up — though if you look at the "Read a book by Stephen King, George R. R. Martin, or Neil Gaiman" item and decide you want to do Octavia Butler instead, I applaud you heartily. You can find the checklist (which isn't all about reading specific male authors) here.
Book Riot's Read Harder Challenge
Book Riot's list of 2015 challenges includes everything from "A book written by someone when they were over 65" to a "guilty pleasure book" to a "self-improvement book" — whether or the book is traditionally considered to be a "self-improvement" book. They also have a hashtag, #ReadHarder, you can use to participate. Check out their list here or their Goodreads group here.
The TBR Reading Challenge
We all have that To Be Read pile staring at us from somewhere in our apartment. Because the truth is that it's much faster to buy books than it is to read them, and there are just too many good books to pass up. But this could be the year you finally clear out that pile, with a little help from the blog Bookish and their TBR Challenge. And if you're good about reading and reviewing your books, you're eligible for giveaways, too! Sign up here.
The Rory Gilmore Reading Challenge
During the course of seven seasons of The Gilmore Girls, Rory Gilmore read...a lot of books. Over 300 in fact. And while you won't be able to read all of those in a year — unless of course you're the sort of person who can finish War and Peace in under two days — it's still worthwhile to take a swing at the list anyway. After all, Rory had very good taste in books. You can check out this challenge here.
A Year of YA Reading Challenge
If you're looking to try your hand at reading one book a day in 2015, I'm going to suggest that your best bet is probably to be reading YA. After all, YA novels are not only awesome, but also generally pretty easy to get through. But no matter how much YA you're looking to read — whether it's one book a day, one book a week, one a month, or even just one a season — the Year of Reading YA inforgraphic from Epic Reads has you covered, telling you exactly what to pick up next. Check it out here.
Books in Translation
Only about three percent of books published in the United States each year are translated from other languages, which is a real shame when you consider the amount of great literature being published around the world that we will probably never experience. But if you're looking to boraden your literary horizons, you can try your hand at The Introverted Reader's challenge to read more translated works, and find some likeminded people doing the same. Sign up here.
Around the World Challenge
If you want to take a different approach to reading globally you can get on board with It's All About The Books and create a Google map to plot all the places you travel on your literary adventures this. Any place your characters travel is fair game, and the site comes with mini-challenges to help you find even more locations in literature to add to your map. You can join this challenge here.
I know, I know, if you're a Bustle reader you're probably already reading tons of books by women, but just because 2014 (aka the Year of Reading Women) is over, that doesn't mean we stop doing what we can to support female authors and destabilize the centering of of male voices in the literary world. Plus women are awesome. But if you want a challenge to help you read even more books by women, you can try Peek a Book's third Women Challenge. Sign up here.
Back to Classics
Sometimes classics are awesome and exciting, sometimes they're dull and boring — but no matter what else they are, they're classics because they've had some sort of major influence on literature, and that makes them worth reading. That, and reading books from bygone eras is often fascinating. So if you are looking for an excuse to read all those novels you're "supposed" to have read by now, might I suggest the Books and Chocolate Classics Challenge, complete with categories to help you expand your horizons even further. Sign up here.
Diversity on the Shelf Challenge
Diversity in literature and in the books industry is and will continue to be an important topic. For too long it has been far too easy to read nothing but books by white people — and maybe not even notice that's what you were doing. Fortunately, that's beginning to change, but whether you've been falling into the trap of reading books by and about white people or you've been adding diversity to your shelves for years, it never hurts to support more authors of color. You can sign up for My Little Pocketbooks's diversity challenge here.
Long books are intimidating, which is a shame because some truly great novels are long ones — Moby Dick, The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton, half theHarry Potter series, to name just a few. Still, it can be hard picking up a book over 450 pages, knowing it is going to take you a long while to finish. But the Chunkster Challenge is here to help. Your "chunksters" can be in any genre, age group, or format (except graphic novels), but the important thing is you're reading them. Sign up here.