Posted on December 30, 2015 at 6:00 am
If the thought of New Year’s resolutions sounds exhausting (even with our post yesterday on how the library can help you meet your New Year’s goals), and you’d really rather just read a book, you might want to consider taking on a reading resolution. Ranging from something as simple as declaring to read 25 books in one year to ambitious checklists in which you collect specimens from pretty much every reading genre out there, reading resolutions are a fun way to vary your literary diet while making a sedentary activity seem almost quest-like. Even better, you can visually track your progress using everything from a shelf on the Goodreads website to handy printable checklists complete with little boxes to check off.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of the many reading challenges we’ve seen online, but rather a small sampling arranged in order of simplicity (from easiest to most ambitious):
Goodreads is probably the easiest way to go about setting up your own reading resolution. Once you’ve decided the magic number of books you want to read in the coming year, you simply fill in the blank where it says “I want to read __ books in 2016.” Goodreads takes care of the rest by tracking your progress, giving you the option to make a digital shelf for your 2016 books and even letting you see what other people are planning to read this year.
Book Riot’s 2016 Read Harder Challenge is making the rounds among my Facebook friends and I may sign on as well. With 24 goals that include “Read a book about or by a person who identifies as transgender”, “Read a historical novel that takes place before 1900”, and “Read a book that is by an author from Southeast Asia,” the Read Harder challenge is designed to broaden perspectives and literary comfort zones. The challenge website also has a link to great recommendations from the New York Public Library, as well as to the Read Harder Goodreads page.
In a similar vein, PopSugar’s 2016 Reading Challenge is a 40-item checklist that includes “read a National Book Award Winner”, “Read a YA bestseller”, “Read a novel translated into English”, and even “Read a book where the protagonist has the same job as you”. This challenge also has a group page on Goodreads, as well as a downloadable PDF of their nicely designed Reading Challenge checklist.
I’d never heard of Tim Challies until his book challenge came up in my research for this post. The blogger, pastor, and author comes from a decidedly Protestant/Evangelical/Calvinist perspective but his 2016 Reading Challenge is one of the most ambitious and best designed ones I’ve seen. Readers can start at the “Light Reader” level, which consists of 13 books and offers such categories as “a biography”, “a book on Christian living”, and “a mystery or detective novel.” Participants can choose to spend all year on this first level, or can move up to the next level, for “Avid Readers.” This level asks you to read 13 more books, including “a graphic novel” and “a book by C.S. Lewis or J.R.R. Tolkien”. The goal then doubles so that the reader is taking on 52 books of increasing complexity. From there, the reader moves to a dizzying 104-book level (which is roughly two books a week). While there are a lot of religious choices here—too many for my agnostic brain to consider—the basic challenge structure is easy to replicate and modify according to your belief system (or lack thereof).
Kids can even get in on the reading resolution fun with Scholastic’s printable Reading Resolution checklist. A super ambitious list of 100 must-reads, including “read a book by someone from my state”, “read my best friend’s favorite book”, and “read a book that takes place in the future”. The list also includes such fun reading activities as “read to your family pet”, “read outside” and “read aloud to somebody cooking while he/she is making the dish”.
How about you? Share your favorite reading resolution projects and personal reading resolutions in the comments section!