Stress & Self-Care

My 2019 Reading Challenge

Update, December 2019

According to Goodreads, I’ve read about 40 books this year, however, only a few of them are from this list (Charlotte’s Web, Wild, The Alchemist, and a book set partly in Edinburgh). I also read a couple which at least touched on racial themes (item 6), and I’m part way through a title by JoJoMoyes (for item 8).

And what I learned is, although I welcomed the nudge to read a little more widely, I hated turning reading into a “should do” instead of a “want to”. I belong to a book club and that already does a pretty good job of introducing me to new topics & authors. I also enjoyed lots of non-fiction this year, which was mostly absent from my list below.

For 2020, I’ll be going more with the flow, reading what I fancy, when I fancy. How about you?

And here’s the orginal post:

Do you like to set yourself a reading challenge for the year? I recently enjoyed a gorgeously illustrated book, Bibliophile by Jane Mount. This, along with some recent challenges by Modern Mrs. Darcy (2019 here and 2018 here) inspired me to get a little more intentional with around half my reading.

Here’s the list of categories I came up with, and some likely contenders:

  1. 3 classic children’s books (I have my eye on Little Women, The Little Prince, Charlotte’s Web, Black Beauty)
  2. A memoir or biography (possibly Wild by Cheryl Strayed)
  3. A classic you’ve been meaning to read (The Alchemist)
  4. A classic you’ve been meaning to re-read (Sense & Sensibility)
  5. A book set somewhere you’re planning to travel (that might be Edinburgh for me)
  6. A book with issues of race
  7. A book nominated for an award (Little Fires Everywhere)
  8. A book by a favorite author
  9. A book recommended by an indie bookseller
  10. A book about books
  11. A book about animals (Watership Down, The Soul of an Octopus )
  12. A book of short stories (This is Chick Lit)
  13. A book of poems/essays (Owls and Other Fantasies)
  14. A book gathering dust by my bed
  15. A book with wisdom from a famous person (You Learn by Living)
  16. An uplifting book (Man’s Search for Meaning)

2019 Reading Challenge | Pauline Wiles

That list of 16 categories hopefully leaves me scope for book club choices, non-fiction (I read loads of productivity and writing books), lighter picks and some impulse choices too.

If you want to create your own challenge:

  • Be realistic about the type of books you’ll actually read, but…
  • …Aim to stretch your horizons a bit too.
  • And I recommend you plan for no more than about half the books you can read in a year, to allow plenty of spontaneity in your book reading choices too.

How about you? Have you ever tried a structured reading challenge? How did it go? What are your reading plans for 2019?

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9 Comment

  1. Reply
    Tracey Gemmell
    January 9, 2019 at 8:48 am

    Following with interest. I, too, am branching out, particularly in the area of foreign writers telling stories of the countries they either left behind or learned to called home later in life. “Maman’s Homesick Pie” by Donia Bijan is wonderful.

    1. Reply
      January 9, 2019 at 10:27 am

      Tracey, I’m not surprised the theme of “home” is calling to you! Hope you find some wonderful books in the process.

  2. Reply
    Gwen Stackler
    January 9, 2019 at 12:39 pm

    Ha! I saw Reading Challenge and had to come read! My goal is to explore and expand this year. I often read so much that I do not allow myself to explore the rabbit holes that a book might send me on. I write them down on a piece of paper or save a page of further reading to Evernote only to let them sit there.

    I often read on issues of race and notice that you didn’t make any suggestions…may I? There are some amazing books out there and more and more coming out every month. For a deep read, The Blood of Emmett Till continues to haunt me and if you don’t want to go that dark, The Hate You Give or Well-Read Black Girl are lighter yet get their point across.

    Another goal I have is a product of life and living in Palm Springs, I want to explore more books with LGBTQ figures or characters. I think I only read one non-fiction last year and already have Janet Mock’s books lined up on the Kindle to read this year since she is speaking here in a few weeks. Fiction or non-fiction, I want to understand their lives like I think I understand the issues of race. (Hey, I may not, but know that I’m way ahead of most thanks to my reading!)

    Hugs and Happy Holidays! You go, girl, I think of you often and anytime you are down here and want to speak at our library, let me know! I’ve sort of got the hookup. Bwahaha!

  3. Reply
    January 9, 2019 at 3:47 pm

    Gwen, hello! (Big wave). Thanks so much for chiming in here with your lovely support and some recommendations. You are far and away the most voracious reader I know so I feel very honored. Yes, I don’t have a “shortlist” yet for all my categories and with sensitive topics didn’t want to blunder in and just pick something for the sake of this list. I think my book club’s going to steer me to some interesting choices too.

    1. Reply
      Gwen Stackler
      January 9, 2019 at 6:29 pm

      bookclubs are awesome at introducing you to new authors, subjects and all that and we have a plethora here, all within walking distance.

  4. Reply
    January 17, 2019 at 5:26 pm

    I loved Little Fires Everywhere! And also Everything I Never Told You by the same author.

    I’m also trying to read a more diverse array of books in 2019 – a challenge sounds like a great idea to move out of my comfort zone while also choosing books I’ll be interested in.

    1. Reply
      January 17, 2019 at 6:01 pm

      Thanks, Hali: glad you enjoyed those books. Good luck with your own challenge, if you create one.

  5. Reply
    April J Harris
    January 21, 2019 at 4:22 am

    I definitely want to read more this year, Pauline, and this post is great inspiration! Thank you for introducing me to the Modern Mrs Darcy too! Pinning and sharing. By the way, this was the most visited post at Hearth and Soul this week, so I’ll be featuring it at the party later today. Thank you for sharing and for being a part of the Hearth and Soul Link Party. Hope to see you again this week. Have a lovely week!

    1. Reply
      January 21, 2019 at 7:49 am

      I love that there’s interest around reading more, April, and am glad Modern Mrs Darcy is helpful. Thank you, as always, for all you do to share my work!

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