Category Archives: reading challenges

2018 Reading Challenge: Final Update

The year is over, so it’s time to look at how my reading challenge wrapped up! Spoiler: it was a fail in all but spirit.

Bold means I’ve completed the task. None of this indicates that I’ve particularly liked or disliked these books, just that I read them. Check out my 2018 favorites or disappointments lists if your looking for something more than a checklist.

Here is the first set of challenges: individual books.

  1. A book you didn’t get around to in 2017 = Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare
  2. A book with a blue cover = Ugly Love by Colleen Hoover
  3. A Stephen King book = Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King
  4. An illustrated Harry Potter book = did not read. I wanted to, but I hardly ever reread and did not leave myself much time for that in 2018. I’m still planning to read all of the illustrated editions at some point.
  5. A book you’ve loved in the past = Hawksong by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes
  6. A book at least 1000 pages long = It by Stephen King
  7. The last book in a series = The Last Letter Home by Vilhelm Moberg
  8. A book recommended by a friend = Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
  9. A prize-winning book = Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie
  10. A non-fiction book = Night by Elie Weisel
  11. A book picked up on a whim from the library = Gwendy’s Button Box by Stephen King and Richard T. Chizmar
  12. A book at the bottom of your to-read list = did not read. I meant to read the very bottom book, the oldest added to my Goodreads TBR, Sense and Sensibility. I didn’t get around to it, and I’m not counting anything else that came close because I’m stubborn.
  13. A book with a strong female lead = The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah
  14. A book from the staff recommendations display at a bookstore = did not read. Several books that I read this year have turned up on these displays, but I did not discover a new recommended book and read it for that reason the way I meant to for this challenge, so I’m not counting it. Again, I’m stubborn.
  15. A book in which a beloved character dies = The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker
  16. A Shakespeare play = did not read. I bought two this year to fit this challenge, but did not pick them up. I do still intend to read them.
  17. A book that takes place in space = Iron Gold by Pierce Brown
  18. A book by a new-to-you author = The Female Persuasion by Meg Wolitzer
  19. A new book by an author you already love = Providence by Caroline Kepnes
  20. A book of short stories = You Think It, I’ll Say It by Curtis Sittenfeld
  21. A memoir = The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
  22. A true-crime book = In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
  23. A book with a five-word title = A Ladder to the Sky by John Boyne
  24. A book set in another country = The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood
  25. A book of poetry = The Long Take by Robin Robertson

Reaction: 21 out of 25 is not bad. I didn’t quite make it, and was hoping I could catch up on those last 4 books in December, but I decided to pursue other goals instead.

Now the second set: the big categories. I’m allowing myself to count books in multiple slots across sets, so you’ll start seeing a few repeats here.

  1. Twelve classics
    1. Emma by Jane Austen
    2. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
    3. 6 Penguin Moderns by Martin Luther King Jr., Albert Camus, Shirley Jackson, Italo Calvino, Jack Kerouac, and Betty Friedan (these books are very short so I’ve been buying and reading them in sets of 6 rather than counting them each individually)
    4. 6 Penguin Moderns by Daphne du Maurier, George Orwell, Gertrude Stein, John Steinbeck, Vladimir Nabokov, and Wendell Berry
    5. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
    6. The Iliad by Homer
    7. A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf
    8. The Emigrants by Vilhelm Moberg
    9. Unto a Good Land by Vilhelm Moberg
    10. The Settlers by Vilhelm Moberg
    11. The Last Letter Home by Vilhelm Moberg
    12. Night by Elie Weisel
    13. It by Stephen King
  2. Twelve books within a month of their US publication dates
    1. Iron Gold by Pierce Brown
    2. As Bright as Heaven by Susan Meissner
    3. The Philospher’s Flight by Tom Miller
    4. Rainbirds by Clarissa Goenawan
    5. Red Rising Sons of Ares by Pierce Brown, Rik Hoskin, and Eli Powell
    6. Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
    7. Our Kind of Cruelty by Araminta Hall
    8. Still Lives by Maria Hummel
    9. The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware
    10. The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang
    11. The Girl From Blind River by Gale Massey
    12. The Line That Held Us by David Joy
    13. Cross Her Heart by Sarah Pinborough
    14. The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker
    15. Everything Under by Daisy Johnson
    16. The Water Cure by Sophie Mackintosh
    17. November Road by Lou Berney
    18. Washington Black by Esi Edugyan
    19. Elevation by Stephen King
    20. A Ladder to the Sky by John Boyne
    21. Milkman by Anna Burns
    22. Normal People by Sally Rooney
    23. In Our Mad and Furious City by Guy Gunaratne
  3. The rest of the A Song of Ice and Fire Series
    1. did not read. I’ve been partway through A Storm of Swords for over a year now (I had to put it down during a month when my life got very busy at the end of 2017), and I massively regret not picking it back up. At this point, I will probably want to start the book over so I don’t miss anything I might have forgotten. I still intend to finish the series.
  4. All of my unread Book of the Month Club books
    1. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
    2. The Power by Naomi Alderman
    3. Sleeping Beauties by Stephen and Owen King
    4. The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood
    5. As Bright As Heaven by Susan Meissner
    6. The Philosopher’s Flight by Tom Miller
    7. Rainbirds by Clarissa Goenawan
    8. The Oracle Year by Charles Soule
    9. Our Kind of Cruelty by Araminta Hall
    10. Still Lives by Maria Hummel
    11. The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang
    12. The Girl From Blind River by Gale Massey
    13. The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager
    14. The Line That Held Us by David Joy
    15. The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker
    16. Cross Her Heart by Sarah Pinborough
    17. The Lies We Told by Camilla Way
    18. A Ladder to the Sky by John Boyne
    19. There are currently twelve unread BOTM books on my shelves that I did not read this year, so even though I read 18 BOTM books in 2018 I have to count this challenge as a fail. I believe I started the year with 11 unread BOTM titles, and I did read 4 from that list, but I’ve picked up a couple of extras throughout 2018 that I haven’t read yet, and I haven’t gotten to my December selections at all yet either. I will eventually.
  5. Nine books by Victoria/V. E. Schwab
    1. I did not read any. I still plan to, although without this challenge I’ll be more inclined to see how they go and decide which ones most interest me rather than just blindly pushing through all of them. All I know so far is that I like Schwab’s writing; I read one of her short stories in 2017 and need to check out her novels. When the time is right.

Reaction: I’m 2 for 5 from these categories. I honestly did not expect that I would meet the cut-off on classics, but even though I didn’t read the twelve books I had picked out at the beginning of the year, I discovered that some of the books I read throughout 2018 are considered classics that I wouldn’t have thought about if I hadn’t gone looking for them. But I almost doubled the new releases goal without even trying, so that one I’m proud of. I tend to read way more backlisted books than recent releases, so it’s a pleasant surprise to start breaking that habit. I’m very happy with the ratio of new and old releases I read in 2018. But I’m disappointed by my complete failure with both George R. R. Martin and V. E. Schwab. They’re both authors that I expect to love novels from, so I don’t know why I’ve resisted picking them up this year? Fail. Also a fail with BOTM, although I think I could be a lot worse off- even though I didn’t meet the goal of reading all of my unread BOTM books (which admittedly was always going to be difficult as the number grew each month), I did read 19 selections this year, which is more than one book per month, and more than the 12 selections I read in 2017. Other than December, I did read my main selection every month this year, and this challenge helped me stick to fewer add-ons in my monthly boxes. So a fail, but I’m okay with where I’m at. 2 for 5 is… not great, but generally better than I expected.

And now the final set: some specific titles I wanted to read in 2018.

  1. Iron Gold by Pierce Brown
  2. I did not read the other 9 books that were originally on this list. This set was built in a beat-the-backlist way, and actually I did very poorly this year about picking up older titles from my TBR shelves. Which isn’t to say I didn’t read backlist books, just not the ones that I already owned. The one title from this list that I read was the one title that was released in 2018, that I had pre-ordered at the time I compiled this list.

So here’s where I stand:

  • I filled 76 slots throughout this challenge. 20 of those slots are repeated books, two books are used 3 times for different sets. Which means I read 54 different books in 2018 that counted for this challenge.
  • There are 37 slots left open at the end of the year and the end of the challenge. The slots left are so specific that I don’t think I would have been able to repeat any more books– I would have needed to actually read 37 more books, specific books, to complete the entire challenge.

Full reaction: I don’t mind at all that I didn’t complete this challenge from top to bottom. The completionist in me regrets it a little, but the purposes of the sets were mostly met: for the first set, I was meant to pick up books outside of my comfort zone, or books that would just push me a little in some new direction, whether it be a reread (Harry Potter) or something I just hadn’t gotten around to yet (Sense and Sensibility) or a genre I’ve overlooked in the past (In Cold Blood, for true crime). Though I didn’t meet each specific task, I definitely pushed myself outside of my reading comfort zone this year. I tried so many new things, and found some surprising favorites. I read some classics, which I usually love but struggle to reach for, and I almost stayed even with BOTM, which I didn’t even come close to doing in 2017. I read tons of new releases, breaking old habits to do so. So I didn’t read some specific books that I thought I really wanted to read at this time last year, but I definitely challenged myself in 2018, and I’m really happy with the reading year I had. It wasn’t my top reading year ever, but it ranks. 2018 was a solid reading year for me, and in part I can thank this homemade challenge for that. Which is why I started this post by saying that I completely failed it… but not in spirit. And I think spirit is the most important element of any challenge.

Based on these results, I’ve decided not to assign myself a specific reading challenge for 2019. (You can check out my 2019 bookish goals here if you’re curious about what did make the list.) I feel like I’ve learned to read a good variety and take chances, and I want to be able to do that without holding myself to such specifics. I do have some other reading goals that will influence what I read in 2019, but I want to do a lot of impulse reading instead of following a list. If it doesn’t work, maybe I’ll come back to a structured challenge. We’ll see!

And with the reading challenge wrapped up… I think I’m ready to post my year wrap-up for 2018 next!

(Thanks for sticking with me this far, by the way. This has been a long post.)

Do you like following strict challenge lists? Do you prefer to challenge yourself without a list? What works to push you outside of your reading comfort zone? Let me know below!

Sincerely,

The Literary Elephant

2018 Reading Challenge: Update 3

There are 3 months left of 2018 (how did we get here already?), which means we’re getting down to crunch time for yearly reading challenges. My priorities have definitely changed as the year has progressed, so I’m pretty sure I will not be completing every part of this challenge this year, though I still have high hopes for some aspects of it. But it’s time to take a look at where I stand so I can make some decisions about my reading plans for the end of the year.

Bold means I’ve completed the task, (parentheses) means I’ve designated a book for the slot but haven’t finished reading it yet.

Here is the first set of challenges: individual books.

  1. A book you didn’t get around to in 2017 = Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare
  2. A book with a blue cover = Ugly Love by Colleen Hoover
  3. A Stephen King book = (Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King – currently buddy reading)
  4. An illustrated Harry Potter book = (Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J. K. Rowling)
  5. A book you’ve loved in the past = Hawksong by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes
  6. A book at least 1000 pages long = It by Stephen King
  7. The last book in a series = (Obsidio by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff)
  8. A book recommended by a friend = Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
  9. A prize-winning book = Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie
  10. A non-fiction book = Night by Elie Weisel
  11. A book picked up on a whim from the library = Gwendy’s Button Box by Stephen King and Richard T. Chizmar
  12. A book at the bottom of your to-read list = (Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen)
  13. A book with a strong female lead = The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah
  14. A book from the staff recommendations display at a bookstore = (Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore by Matthew J. Sullivan)
  15. A book in which a beloved character dies = The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker
  16. A Shakespeare play = (King Lear by Shakespeare)
  17. A book that takes place in space = (The Martian by Andy Weir)
  18. A book by a new-to-you author = The Female Persuasion by Meg Wolitzer
  19. A new book by an author you already love = Iron Gold by Pierce Brown
  20. A book of short stories = You Think It, I’ll Say It by Curtis Sittenfeld
  21. A memoir = The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
  22. A true-crime book = In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
  23. A book with a five-word title = (The Girl Who Smiled Beads by Clematine Wamariya and Elizabeth Weil)
  24. A book set in another country = The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood
  25. A book of poetry = (The Long Take by Robin Robertson)

And for the second set: the big categories. Books that count for this part of the challenge can also be counted for a category in the set above or below.

  1. Twelve classics
    1. Emma by Jane Austen
    2. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
    3. 6 Penguin Moderns by Martin Luther King Jr., Albert Camus, Shirley Jackson, Italo Calvino, Jack Kerouac, and Betty Friedan
    4. 6 Penguin Moderns by Daphne du Maurier, George Orwell, Gertrude Stein, John Steinbeck, Vladimir Nabokov, and Wendell Berry
    5. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
    6. The Iliad by Homer
    7. (The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hide by Robert Louis Stevenson)
    8. (6 Penguin Moderns by Patrick Kavanagh, Audre Lorde, Chinua Achebe, Susan Sontag, Jorge Luis Borges, and Truman Capote)
    9. (The Waves by Virginia Woolf)
    10. (Dracula by Bram Stoker)
    11. (Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen)
    12. (King Lear by Shakespeare)
  2. Twelve books within a month of their US publication dates
    1. Iron Gold by Pierce Brown
    2. As Bright as Heaven by Susan Meissner
    3. The Philospher’s Flight by Tom Miller
    4. Rainbirds by Clarissa Goenawan
    5. Red Rising Sons of Ares by Pierce Brown, Rik Hoskin, and Eli Powell
    6. Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
    7. Our Kind of Cruelty by Araminta Hall
    8. Still Lives by Maria Hummel
    9. The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware
    10. The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang
    11. The Girl From Blind River by Gale Massey
    12. The Line That Held Us by David Joy
    13. Cross Her Heart by Sarah Pinborough
    14. The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker
    15. Everything Under by Daisy Johnson
    16. The Water Cure by Sophie Mackintosh
    17. November Road by Lou Berney
    18. (Washington Black by Esi Edugyan – currently reading)
  3. The rest of the A Song of Ice and Fire Series
    1. (A Storm of Swords by George R. R. Martin)
    2. (A Feast for Crows by George R. R. Martin)
    3. (A Dance with Dragons by George R. R. Martin)
  4. All of my unread Book of the Month Club books
    1. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
    2. (Future Home of the Living God by Louise Erdrich)
    3. (Artemis by Andy Weir)
    4. The Power by Naomi Alderman
    5. Sleeping Beauties by Stephen and Owen King
    6. (Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng)
    7. The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood
    8. (Since We Fell by Dennis Lehane)
    9. (One Day We’ll All Be Dead And None of This Will Matter by Scaachi Koul)
    10. (All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood)
    11. (Swimming Lessons by Claire Fuller)
    12. As Bright As Heaven by Susan Meissner
    13. (The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne)
    14. The Philosopher’s Flight by Tom Miller
    15. Rainbirds by Clarissa Goenawan
    16. The Oracle Year by Charles Soule
    17. Our Kind of Cruelty by Araminta Hall
    18. (The Girl Who Smiled Beads by Clemantine Wamariya)
    19. Still Lives by Maria Hummel
    20. The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang
    21. The Girl From Blind River by Gale Massey
    22. The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager
    23. The Line That Held Us by David Joy
    24. The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker
    25. Cross Her Heart by Sarah Pinborough
    26. (The Lies We Told by Camilla Way)
    27. (The Clockmaker’s Daughter by Kate Morton)
    28. (November selection)
    29. (December selection)
  5. Nine books by Victoria/V. E. Schwab
    1. (The Archived)
    2. (The Unbound)
    3. (This Savage Song)
    4. (This Dark Duet)
    5. (Vicious)
    6. (Vengeful)
    7. (A Darker Shade of Magic)
    8. (A Gathering of Shadows)
    9. (A Conjuring of Light)

Final set: some specific titles I wanted to read in 2018. These can also count in the sets above.

  1. (The Fellowship of the Ring by J. R. R. Tolkien)
  2. (Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng)
  3. (The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah)
  4. (The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern)
  5. (Dracula by Bram Stoker)
  6. (The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett)
  7. (Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor)
  8. (The Martian by Andy Weir)
  9. Iron Gold by Pierce Brown
  10. (Obsidio by Jay Kristoff and Amy Kaufman)

So here’s where I stand:

  • I’ve filled 56 slots in this challenge. Some of those are books that counted in more than one category, and some of those (the books within a month of publication) are superfluous, more than I needed to complete the category.
  • There are 47 slots left to fill to complete the challenge. But some of those can be doubled up by single books that count for multiple slots.
  • I’m predicting I’ll fill 31 of those 47 slots by the end of the year. I can probably finish the first set, the 25 books with specific prompts. I’m really hoping to finish the classics, and it seems possible, but I’m not entirely sure it will happen. I’ll probably only read one George R. R. Martin book before the end of the year rather than 3. I’m still intending to finish my BOTM backlog, but again, I’m not entirely sure it will happen. I’ll probably only read one V. E. Schwab book before the end of the year. And there are only a couple more from the 3rd set of specific titles that I’ll likely read, titles that will double up to fill other slots also.
  • But I’m happy with what I’ve read this year, and whether I finish this entire challenge or not, it has served its purpose– I’ve branched out and tried new things, and I’ve read some unread books from my physical TBR, even if not the exact same titles I thought I would at the beginning of the year. And perhaps not finishing the challenge proves that I’m meeting my overall reading goal for 2018: quality over quantity. I’ve read books I expected to love or learn from instead of reading for numbers.
  • I have no idea what this challenge will look like at the end of the year, but I already have a simpler idea for next year’s challenge and I’m looking forward to seeing where I end up by the end of December!

Are you working through a 2018 reading challenge? Do you expect to complete it or have your goals changed over the course of the year?

Sincerely,

The Literary Elephant

2018 Reading Challenge: Update 2

Halfway through the year means time for another challenge check-in. I don’t think I’ve been paying enough attention to crossing things off this list, so as I’m starting this off I have no idea where I currently stand. Let’s find out.

Strikethrough font means I’ve completed the task, (parentheses) means I’ve designated a book for the slot but haven’t finished reading it yet.

Here is the first set of challenges: individual books.

  1. A book you didn’t get around to in 2017 = Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare
  2. A book with a blue cover = Ugly Love by Colleen Hoover
  3. A Stephen King book = (The Outsider)
  4. An illustrated Harry Potter book = (Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J. K. Rowling)
  5. A book you’ve loved in the past = Hawksong by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes
  6. A book at least 1000 pages long = It by Stephen King
  7. The last book in a series = (Obsidio by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff)
  8. A book recommended by a friend = (Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi- currently reading)
  9. A prize-winning book = Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward
  10. A non-fiction book = Night by Elie Weisel
  11. A book picked up on a whim from the library = Gwendy’s Button Box by Stephen King and Richard T. Chizmar
  12. A book at the bottom of your to-read list = (Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen)
  13. A book with a strong female lead = The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah
  14. A book from the staff recommendations display at a bookstore = (Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore by Matthew J. Sullivan)
  15. A book in which a beloved character dies
  16. A Shakespeare play = (King Lear by Shakespeare)
  17. A book that takes place in space = (The Martian by Andy Weir)
  18. A book by a new-to-you author = The Female Persuasion by Meg Wolitzer
  19. A new book by an author you already love = Iron Gold by Pierce Brown
  20. A book of short stories
  21. A memoir = The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
  22. A true-crime book = In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
  23. A book with a five-word title = (Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor)
  24. A book set in another country = The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood
  25. A book of poetry = (Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur)

And for the second set: the big categories. Books that count for this part of the challenge can also be counted for a category in the set above or below.

  1. Twelve classics
    1. Emma by Jane Austen
    2. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
    3. (The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hide by Robert Louis Stevenson)
    4. (A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens)
    5. (The Odyssey by Homer)
    6. (The Waves by Virginia Woolf)
    7. (The Beautiful and Damned by F. Scott Fitzgerald)
    8. (The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas)
    9. (The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle)
    10. (Dracula by Bram Stoker)
    11. (Mansfield Park by Jane Austen)
    12. (King Lear by Shakespeare)
  2. Twelve books within a month of their publication dates
    1. Iron Gold by Pierce Brown
    2. As Bright as Heaven by Susan Meissner
    3. The Philospher’s Flight by Tom Miller
    4. Rainbirds by Clarissa Goenawan
    5. Red Rising Sons of Ares by Pierce Brown, Rik Hoskin, and Eli Powell
    6. Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
    7. Our Kind of Cruelty by Araminta Hall
    8. Still Lives by Maria Hummel
    9. The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware
    10. The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang
    11. (The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager)
    12. (Dark Age by Pierce Brown)
  3. The rest of the A Song of Ice and Fire Series
    1. (A Storm of Swords by George R. R. Martin- currently reading)
    2. (A Feast for Crows by George R. R. Martin)
    3. (A Dance with Dragons by George R. R. Martin)
  4. All of my unread Book of the Month Club books
    1. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
    2. (Future Home of the Living God by Louise Erdrich)
    3. (Artemis by Andy Weir)
    4. The Power by Naomi Alderman
    5. (Sleeping Beauties by Stephen and Owen King)
    6. (Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng)
    7. The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood
    8. (Since We Fell by Dennis Lehane)
    9. (One Day We’ll All Be Dead And None of This Will Matter by Scaachi Koul)
    10. (All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood)
    11. (Swimming Lessons by Claire Fuller)
    12. As Bright As Heaven by Susan Meissner
    13. (The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne)
    14. The Philosopher’s Flight by Tom Miller
    15. Rainbirds by Clarissa Goenawan
    16. The Oracle Year by Charles Soule
    17. Our Kind of Cruelty by Araminta Hall
    18. (The Girl Who Smiled Beads by Clemantine Wamariya)
    19. Still Lives by Maria Hummel
    20. The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang
  5. Nine books by Victoria/V. E. Schwab
    1. (The Archived)
    2. (The Unbound)
    3. (This Savage Song)
    4. (This Dark Duet)
    5. (Vicious)
    6. (Vengeful)
    7. (A Darker Shade of Magic)
    8. (A Gathering of Shadows)
    9. (A Conjuring of Light)

Final set: some specific titles I definitely want to read in 2018. These can also count in the sets above.

  1. The Fellowship of the Ring by J. R. R. Tolkien
  2. Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng
  3. The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
  4. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
  5. Dracula by Bram Stoker
  6. The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
  7. Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor
  8. The Martian by Andy Weir
  9. Iron Gold by Pierce Brown
  10. Obsidio by Jay Kristoff and Amy Kaufman

Finis. So here’s where I stand:

  • I’ve read 38 books that count for this challenge.
  • I would need to read at least 92 books to fill every slot in this challenge.
  • That’s about 41% completion at this point.
  • I’ve read 61 books so far this year, which means
  • I’ve read 23 books that don’t count for this challenge.
  • I need to read at least 54 more books to fill every slot left.

I can work with that. Looking at these numbers, it would technically be possible to complete this challenge still by the end of the year. But I know I’m going to be reading more books that don’t count here.

And honestly, I’m okay with the fact that I might not read all of these books within the year. I chose the books I did to push myself to pick up unread titles from my shelves, and I have been. But I’ve also been focusing on reading quality over quantity this year, which means reading books that inspire me and teach me about the world instead of just reading a ton of titles that are easy to cross off a list. Overall, I’ve been really happy with the change in my reading this year as far as quality goes. I’ve been taking chances on trying new things, and I’ve been finding some phenomenal titles that I didn’t necessarily know to look for when I first constructed this challenge. I dont want to change the way my reading has been going this year just to finish this challenge, because in the end enjoying what I’m reading and learning from what I’m reading is more important to me than crossing titles off a list.

With that in mind, there are some categories here I’m sure I’ll finish before the end of the year, and some I probably won’t. The first set, with 25 individual books, should be fairly easy. Even if I don’t stick to the titles I’ve been plannnig, I’ve been having fun matching what I’m reading to the categories of that set, and I’m over halfway through that bunch.

The second set, the groups of books, I’m not so sure about. I’m way behind on classics, but I’ve been reading a lot of modern classics from the Penguin Modern collection; at some point I’ll decide how many of those short volumes equal one classic, and I think I’ll end up close to my 12-book goal.

I’ll definitely read more than 12 books within a month of publication; I’m not going to stop reading new publications when I reach that goal.

I don’t mind extending my Song of Ice and Fire read into next year, as long as I make some progress this year.

I would really like to catch up on my BOTM selections; that list is going to keep growing as I acquire more of their books throughout the year, but I think at some point (maybe this fall) I want to do a BOTM marathon to try to finish off that list.

And then we have Victoria Schwab. 9 of her books now seems a bit excessive, when really I just wanted to push myself to get started on reading them. I read one Schwab short story last year and I think I’m really going to like her books, but as long as I try a couple I really don’t mind not reading all of the Schwab books I’m interested in within 2018.

And finally, the last set, the specific books. I really wanted to be able to cross these ten off my TBR this year, but I just keep not reaching for them. My priorities have changed in the last 6 months, and I have no idea if I’ll be able to get to all of these or not. Some of them are more tempting than others at this point.

But whether I can complete the challenge or not, I think it’s accomplishing what it was meant to: I’m reading unread books from my shelves, and I’m reaching for books I think I’ll really enjoy instead of books that I can finish quickly. I’ll update again in three months, and your guess is as good as mine as to where I’ll stand at that point. But so far, I’m having a great reading year, and I’m not going to let any lists bog me down.

Are you working through a reading challenge this year? How’s it going? Have your interests changed throughout the year?

Sincerely,

The Literary Elephant

2018 Reading Challenge: Update 1

A quarter of the year is gone (what?! where?), and it’s time to check in. In case you missed it, I assembled my own personal reading challenge for 2018 full of goals and titles that fit my tastes and my reading aspirations for the year. I haven’t been very systematic about tackling the challenges yet, so I’ll be as surprised as you about where I stand and what my plans will be moving forward. Let’s take a look – – – >

Strikethrough font means I’ve completed the task, (parentheses) means I’ve designated a book for the task but not completed it yet.

Here is the first set of challenges: individual books.

  1. A book you didn’t get around to in 2017 = Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare
  2. A book with a blue cover = Ugly Love by Colleen Hoover
  3. A Stephen King book
  4. An illustrated Harry Potter book = (Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J. K. Rowling)
  5. A book you’ve loved in the past = Hawksong by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes
  6. A book at least 1000 pages long = It by Stephen King
  7. The last book in a series = (Obsidio by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff)
  8. A book recommended by a friend = (Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi)
  9. A prize-winning book
  10. A non-fiction book = Night by Elie Weisel
  11. A book picked up on a whim from the library = Gwendy’s Button Box by Stephen King and Richard T. Chizmar
  12. A book at the bottom of your to-read list = (Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen)
  13. A book with a strong female lead
  14. A book from the staff recommendations display at a bookstore = (Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore by Matthew J. Sullivan)
  15. A book in which a beloved character dies
  16. A Shakespeare play = (King Lear by Shakespeare)
  17. A book that takes place in space = (The Martian by Andy Weir)
  18. A book by a new-to-you author = (Vicious by V. E. Schwab)
  19. A new book by an author you already love = Iron Gold by Pierce Brown
  20. A book of short stories
  21. A memoir = The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
  22. A true-crime book = (In Cold Blood by Truman Capote)
  23. A book with a five-word title = (Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor)
  24. A book set in another country = The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood
  25. A book of poetry = (Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur)

And for the second set: the big categories. Books that count for this part of the challenge can also be counted for a category in the sets above or below.

  1. Twelve classics
    1. Emma by Jane Austen
    2. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
    3. (The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hide by Robert Louis Stevenson)
    4. (A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens)
    5. (The Odyssey by Homer)
    6. (The Waves by Virginia Woolf)
    7. (The Beautiful and Damned by F. Scott Fitzgerald)
    8. (The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas)
    9. (The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle)
    10. (Dracula by Bram Stoker)
    11. (Mansfield Park by Jane Austen)
    12. (King Lear by Shakespeare)
  2. Twelve books within a month of their publication dates
    1. Iron Gold by Pierce Brown
    2. As Bright as Heaven by Susan Meissner
    3. The Philospher’s Flight by Tom Miller
    4. Rainbirds by Clarissa Goenawan
    5. Red Rising Sons of Ares by Pierce Brown, Rik Hoskin, and Eli Powell
    6. Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
  3. The rest of the A Song of Ice and Fire Series
    1. (A Storm of Swords by George R. R. Martin)
    2. (A Feast for Crows by George R. R. Martin)
    3. (A Dance with Dragons by George R. R. Martin)
  4. All of my unread Book of the Month books
    1. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
    2. (Future Home of the Living God by Louise Erdrich)
    3. (Artemis by Andy Weir)
    4. (The Power by Naomi Alderman)
    5. (Sleeping Beauties by Stephen and Owen King)
    6. (Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng)
    7. The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood
    8. (Since We Fell by Dennis Lehane)
    9. (One Day We’ll All Be Dead And None of This Will Matter by Scaachi Koul)
    10. (All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood)
    11. (Swimming Lessons by Claire Fuller)
    12. As Bright As Heaven by Susan Meissner
    13. (The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne)
    14. The Philosopher’s Flight by Tom Miller
    15. Rainbirds by Clarissa Goenawan
    16. (The Oracle Year by Charles Soule)
    17. (Our Kind of Cruelty by Araminta Hall)
    18. (The Girl Who Smiled Beads by Clemantine Wamariya)
  5. Nine books by Victoria/V. E. Schwab
    1. (The Archived)
    2. (The Unbound)
    3. (This Savage Song)
    4. (This Dark Duet)
    5. (Vicious)
    6. (Vengeful)
    7. (A Darker Shade of Magic)
    8. (A Gathering of Shadows)
    9. (A Conjuring of Light)

Final set: some specific titles I definitely want to read in 2018. These can also count in the sets above.

  1. The Fellowship of the Ring by J. R. R. Tolkien
  2. Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng
  3. The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
  4. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
  5. Dracula by Bram Stoker
  6. The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
  7. Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor
  8. The Martian by Andy Weir
  9. Iron Gold by Pierce Brown
  10. Obsidio by Jay Kristoff and Amy Kaufman

And that’s that. So far I have completed 23 challenge tasks, and I have at least 72 challenge tasks left. When I set this challenge for myself, I made it large because I really wanted to push myself this year, but I had no idea if I would actually be able to complete it within a year. Some of the tasks are designed to make me read more than one book, but being able to count some books more than once across the three sets might help even that out. Right now, it looks like if I keep going at the same rate I should have a chance at finishing. I haven’t been trying very hard yet to meet any of these challenges– I did well when I set these tasks because they are fitting pretty well with what I’m reaching for naturally, and even the bigger tasks (like reading all of my BOTM books) are things I want to work toward just because I feel I should, which means I’m not feeling bogged down by the restrictions of the challenge. At least not yet. I’m happy with where I’m at, I’m hopeful about my chances of completion, and I’m excited to watch my progress as the year progresses.

Are you taking part in any reading challenges this year, and if so how’s it going? Are there any tasks or specific titles on my list that you’ve read lately or are excited for me to get to?

Sincerely,

The Literary Elephant