Do you find yourself reading the same type of book all the time?
I definitely gravitate towards the same types of books, especially in times of stress. (I think of it as "comfort reading," the literary equivalent of mac-and-cheese.) Book clubs can be a great way to branch out and read new types of books. Another option is to do a year-long reading challenge either with a group or on your own.
I loved doing my Newbery Award Book Challenge in 2016 and wanted to try something new for 2017. I looked at a number of interesting challenges, including the very popular ones hosted by Modern Mrs. Darcy and Book Riot. (GirlXOXO hosts a huge master listing of 2017 reading challenges if you want to see the variety of challenges available online—cozy mysteries, short stories, parenting, animal books, books set in different states, ... If there's a topic you're interested in, there's a good chance someone has created a challenge around it.)
In the end, I decided to join my local library's Genre Challenge which involves reading 12 different genres in 12 months. There were a couple of reasons I chose this reading challenge:
- It's local.
One of my goals this year is to become more involved in my community. This challenge may be done by anyone living anywhere, but it makes me feel good to know that my local library is hosting it.
- I can hear a wide range of book ideas from others.
Readers are encouraged to share the books they're reading on social media. (Use the tag #FoCoBooks @poudrelibraries)
- It's flexible.
I wanted a challenge that was loosely structured with a lot of options. Unlike last year where I read a specific list of titles, this year I wanted to work with themes or categories and choose my own books to read. This doesn't guarantee I'll love every book, but it does mean that I can choose shorter books during my busiest months.
This challenge is so loosely structured that they even allow you a "wild card" for one month if you absolutely don't want to read anything in that genre. I'm going to aim to not use that option!
- I wanted to branch out ...
I do tend to read the same genres (hello, mystery and biography!) and thought this would be an easy way to expand my normal reading habits. I already know that some of these categories are going to necessitate some research on my part because I never read them and have no idea what to read. (Any idea what kind of book you might read for "mind and body fitness"? I'm picturing myself reading the marketing blurb on the back of a yoga DVD!)
- ...but I wanted a reasonable reading load.
A book a month is an easy commitment for me. Some challenges I looked at are in the book-a-week (or more!) vein and I worried that wouldn't leave me enough time for other reading I might want to do. I want to stretch myself by reading in new areas, but I also don't want to abandon the old ones I enjoy so much.
I'm planning on blogging about the challenge at the beginning of each month, talking about books I've read and enjoyed previously (if any) that fit the genre and possible books that I might read. I'm not planning on doing any art projects related to the books, but I have a feeling that a few might creep in anyway. You can read more about the official challenge on the Poudre Libraries Blog. They even have a cute game board that you can download and print to keep track of your reading.
Since the January challenge is already officially underway, look for a blog post on what I'm reading for "Fiction A-Z" later this week!