Tag Archives: reading goals

Goals: 2019 Reflection and 2020 Plans

When I talked (briefly and vaguely) about my 2019 goals, there were only 2 things I was sure about at the beginning of the year:

  1. that I was setting my Goodreads goal to 100 books. This felt like a comfortable reading goal for 2019, and I think it’ll be a good fit again in 2020. It will be the first year since I started the Goodreads yearly challenge that I won’t be upping my goal, but I’m aiming to have a longer average page count in 2020 so it’ll still be a fun stretch.
  2. that I was not going to participate in any other yearly reading challenges. I kept that conviction all through 2019, and I didn’t miss trying to cram in all the prompts. Once again for 2020, I am not planning to participate in any group/formal challenges.

So what am I planning to read in 2020? I have one main goal: to find 5-star reads.

I had sort of a dismal reading year in 2019; there were some 5-stars, but they felt few and far between. There were a lot more 2-stars (my lowest rating) than I’ve ever used before this year. And on the whole, I just wasn’t enjoying what I was reading as much as I usually do. I can think of two things that probably had a negative effect on my 2019 reading:

  1. Book prizes. I read the longlist for the Women’s Prize in 2019, which included some really great titles, but sadly my favorites were the titles I’d read before the longlist announcement, which made reading the rest of the list feel underwhelming. I also read most of the Booker Prize longlist (2 titles left!), even though I wasn’t enthused about many of the nominees. Unfortunately, I found more disappointments than gems there, so that reading experience was largely a downer as well. Because these didn’t go well, the Women’s Prize is now the ONLY longlist I’m planning to read in 2020; any other longlists I sample will be sampled only. Probably. It’s hard to plan for longlists before actually seeing the lists.
  2. Curiosity. Instead of reaching for books that I expected to love, I did a lot of reaching for topics/authors/titles that I was simply curious about in 2019. This isn’t a bad habit, nor one I intend to drop entirely, but I think that it did lead me to reading quite a few 3-stars that I expected to be 3-stars, which was not helping. Instead of reaching for the books with bits and pieces I know I’ll appreciate even if I don’t love the read as a whole, I want to spend the next year reaching for things that I do think I’ll love wholeheartedly, to put some of the fun back in my reading life.

With this goal in mind, I’ve assembled some lists. My last three posts have been: anticipated 2020 releases, books I’m sad I skipped in 2019, and a 20 in ’20 set of backlist books from my own shelves. All three of these lists are full of books that I think could be 5-star reads for me (or close), so I want to prioritize reading from those three lists in 2020. Since I don’t want reading to feel in any way like a chore in 2020, I’m not setting a hard goal of reading all 60+ books that feature on those lists. I do want to complete as many of the titles as I can though, because I would like to return to all three lists at the end of 2020 and see whether I was right about expecting to enjoy those books!

A few more specific goals:

Early in 2019, I decided that I wanted to read more short stories. I did read a lot more short stories than usual in 2019, but not how I’d expected: with the individually bound Faber Stories rather than with regular collections. Though it worked for 2019 and I appreciated the experience, I do want to focus on switching away from the Faber Stories and reading some proper short story collections in 2020. I’m setting the goal at 8 (or more) collections. I have several great contenders on my shelves, including at least two that are included in my lists of 5-star hopefuls.

I also set an early 2019 goal of reading one thing each month from an “unfinished project,” meaning a long-unfinished book on my currently reading shelf, a series I’d started but never finished, a backlist work by an author I’ve loved, etc. I gave this up entirely by March. Since I don’t want to read things I feel *obligated* toward next year, I’m not ready to pick this goal back up as it was, but I am going to keep working through Stephen King’s backlist in 2020, which is one of my biggest unfinished projects. I don’t really expect most of my King reads to be 5-star experiences, but I’ve been making decent progress through King’s oeuvre in 2019 and I don’t want to lose momentum, so I’m hoping to read at least 8 more of his books in 2020.

Another goal of mine for 2020 is to continue reading past prize winners. Even though the 2019 prizes didn’t go so well for me, I am interested in literary prizes and have found some real gems among the books that have been highlighted by prize committees. In 2019 I participated in some very helpful buddy reads of past Women’s Prize winners, which I hope will continue in 2020. I also would like to catch up with a few of the past Booker prize winners, National Book Award winners, Pulitzer Prize winners, etc. I don’t think that these are all necessarily going to be 5-stars for me, so I’m going to keep this goal vague and see what happens. (That didn’t work at all with my goal to read more comics and graphic novels in 2019, but hopefully it will go better in this case.)

 

Now for blogging. 2019 went pretty well for me, other than the month between Oct/Nov when I was just too busy to be online and fell behind, which couldn’t be helped. So I’m planning to keep a lot of things the same, with a few exceptions:

  1. I want to work on writing shorter reviews. I’ve always worried that I’m alienating people by writing more than anyone wants to read, but in the end I’m setting this goal because I really need to spend less time reviewing everything I read in excruciating detail and more time working on my novel. There will definitely be circumstances when I’ll need more space to share all of my thoughts, but I really want to work on streamlining for a more manageable length this year.
  2. Top of the TBR is coming back! I really liked this post series I started in 2019, which lets me talk about books beyond what I’m currently reading. I only dropped this toward the end of the year because I was too busy trying to catch up on reviews and wrap-ups, so 2020 is definitely going to see a return of this series, probably every other week.
  3. I want to start a Spotlight series in 2020, where every month I’ll do a focus-post on a different genre. It’ll be a space to give and to find recommendations, to look at where genres overlap and what’s specific to each, to talk about genre staples and  new/upcoming releases. This isn’t to say I’m an expert on any of these genres; I read widely, and will share some of my experiences with each genre, but what I’m really hoping for is to start a conversation that celebrates each genre, and generates plenty of recommendations for readers with any level of familiarity. I’m still sketching out how I want to go about this, but I do have a schedule in mind (and yes, I know that several of these categories are larger genre umbrellas; this is just what fits my reading life, and I intend to unpack them further in each monthly post):
    • Jan – science fiction
    • Feb – romance
    • Mar – historical fiction
    • Apr – fantasy
    • May – literary fiction
    • Jun – mystery
    • Jul – thriller/suspense
    • Aug – translated fiction
    • Sep – YA
    • Oct – horror
    • Nov – nonfiction
    • Dec – classics
  4. I’m changing up my TBR system for 2020. My 2019 TBRs were supposed to encourage me to buy fewer books, and to read what I buy in a timely fashion, but I failed dramatically on both accounts so am moving on to another strategy. For 2020 I will set a 5-book TBR every month, which will include THE 5 books I feel like I *need* to read within the month, for whatever reason (buddy reads, borrowed/library books, needed for a post, etc). This should be a manageable number that’ll help keep me on track with my goals and also give me some room for whims. I think I’ll also be including any new releases on my radar for that month at the bottom of each TBR, in case anyone else is interested even if I’m not going to get to them within the month!
  5. This isn’t going to affect anyone but me, but I need to write it down: I’m setting a 5-book per month goal limit on new book purchases. It’ll help that I’m aiming to spend my book money on more new releases than backlist books this year, which is a more expensive habit and will hopefully give me pause; I want to limit my spending and acquiring, as well as work through that list of 2020 releases I’ve got my eye on!

 

I think that’s all of the changes I’ve been thinking about making, so I’ll wrap it up now. In sum, I’m hoping for a fun reading year full of 4- and 5-star reads, and some Stephen King. I’m hoping my blogging will be a bit more *inspired* and a bit less time-consuming. We’ll see whether any of this happens as planned!

Do you have a reading goal in mind for 2020?

 

The Literary Elephant

2019 Bookish Goals

It feels out of order to list my goals before going through my results from this past year’s goals, but it would feel just as backwards to wrap up my 2018 goals before the end of the year or save my 2019 goals until January, so we’ll give this a go. I’m still using December to meet a few more of my 2018 goals, but the end of the year is close enough that I’ve put some thought into what I’ve accomplished (or not) this year and how I want to move forward.

Reading Goals:

  • Goodreads – I’ve been doing the Goodreads reading challenge only for three years so far, I think, so I’m still able to raise my goal a little bit every year without the number becoming unrealistic. I do want to set a number that will challenge me to read more, but I don’t want it to be so high that I end up limiting myself to short books. Based on my reading in 2018, I think I can comfortably raise my goal to 100 books for 2019 without sacrificing quality for quantity.
  • Personal – I did create my own reading challenge for 2018 (and I’ll have a whole post to wrap it up in a couple of weeks), but I have decided not to commit to any year-long reading challenges this year. I think every month or quarter I’ll set short term goals for myself so that I can adjust throughout the year if I decide to read a prize longlist or try a summer challenge or something. I want to read more impulsively in 2019.
  • TBRs – I’m going back to monthly TBRs for 2019. I’m going to be experimenting a little throughout the year to see whether small or large TBRs work better for me, rigid vs. flexible TBRs, etc. I haven’t found a good TBR system yet that really works for me, so I want to try to figure that out this year. Mostly, it should help with this next goal:
  • Book hauls – I am not setting a buying ban or trying to limit myself to a certain number of books I can buy per month for 2019. Instead, to keep my owned-unread books under control, I’m going to challenge myself to read every new book I pick up by the end of the next month. So the books I add to my shelves this December will form the bulk of my January TBR, and my new January books will appear on my February TBR, etc. I’m hoping this will help me stop my unread stacks from growing so overwhelming and it’ll force me to read what I’m interested in before my interests have a chance to change. This should encourage me to limit my book buying in a way that’s realistic and sustainable for me. At least, that’s the idea. This is my biggest reading goal for the year, above all other reading priorities. I need to get my owned-unread books under control. (But stay tuned for my December book haul, because I already know January will be ridiculous…)

Writing Goals:

  • New project – I want to write an entire novel in 2019. I don’t mean an outline or a rough draft or finishing something I’ve already started; I want to push myself to complete an entire project in 2019, from start to finish. I don’t know if this is realistic for me, but I do have an idea and I think if I pace myself I can make a solid go of it.
  • Old project – I’m going to try to find an agent/editor/publisher for the novel I’m currently finishing. I’m terrified of the involving-other-people steps, and I don’t know if my book will go anywhere, but you don’t know until you try so I should make that leap. This is going to be a big struggle for me because I don’t have any connections and I’m terrible at talking myself (or my work) up to strangers. Also I’m not entirely sure how to go about it, but hey we’ll make it an adventure. Tips and tricks are more than welcome in the comments!

These are my main bookish goals for 2019. Instead of a lot of little things that might or might not happen, this year I’m focusing on fine-tuning my current habits to make my reading and writing a bit… healthier? I just want to do the best I can with what I’ve got.

And in a couple weeks or so, throughout the first days of January, I’ll be doing my 2018 wrap-ups. I’m going to have a separate post for my hodge-podged 2018 reading challenge, and then a master list of some reading stats and experiences from the year. I’ll also have my 2018 favorites coming up. I just don’t want to call it before 2018’s truly over, you know? But I love new years. They’re so full of hope and innocence. I can’t wait to see what this next one brings.

How about you? What’s your top-priority bookish goal for 2019?

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

2017 Reading Review, and 2018 Goals

Curious about my reading stats? Here’s how I did in 2017:

My reading goal for the year was to surpass the number of books I read in 2016– 73 books. I met that goal in August and kept right on going, to reach a total number of 112 books read in 2017 (153% of my goal). That’s an average of 9 books per month. With those 112 books, I read 42,130 pages, for an average book length of 376 pages.

I had been planning to then set a goal of 112 books for 2018, but since this is a trend I’m probably not going to be able to continue indefinitely, I’ve decided to challenge myself in other ways for 2018 and set my goal at 90 books for 2018. I’m hoping that I’ll surpass that number and keep going again, but I don’t want to find myself reading a bunch of short/easy books just to meet a high goal, so I’m going to leave the bar a little lower than I think I’ll realistically achieve and put the challenge in the content I’m reading instead of the number. 2018 is going to be about quality over quantity for me.

But before I look too far ahead, here are some more stats for my 2017 reading:

YA- 38 books (34%)     NA- 10 books (9%)     Adult- 64 books (57%)

Fantasy- 34 books (30%)     Mystery/Thriller- 16 books (14%)     Classic- 15 books (13%)     Fiction/Lit Fic- 13 books (12%)     Contemporary- 11 books (10%)     Romance- 10 books (9%)     Historical Fiction- 3 books (3%)     Non-fiction- 3 books (3%)     Paranormal/Magical Realism- 3 books (3%)     Short Stories/Anthology- 3 books (3%)

Hardcover- 65 books (58%)     Paperback- 42 books (38%)     Ebook- 5 books (4%)

New to me- 107 books (96%)     Started over- 3 books (3%)     Reread- 2 books (1%)

2017 releases- 27 books (24%)     2016 releases- 15 books (13%)     Older publications- 70 (63%)

12 books that I read this year made it to my Favorite Reads of 2017 list.

I also completed a 50-book Reading Challenge in 2017.

I established a book-acquiring goal a few months into the year (March) of adding only 5 books per month or less to my shelves. Sadly, I achieved this goal only three times in ten months, although twice more I was close, at 6 books. I’m planning to lower this goal to 3 new books per month in 2018 and work harder at eliminating unread books from my shelves.

Here’s a look at all the new books I acquired in 2017:

janbooks febbooks1 febbooks2 FullSizeRender (6) FullSizeRender (16) maybooks  junebookhaul julybookhaul augustbookhaul septemberbookhaul octoberbookhaul novemberbookhaul decemberbookhaul

I acquired 119 books in total in 2017. Of this number, I’ve read 46 books. That number (39%) is much lower than I would like, but actually higher than I expected while looking through these haul photos. I’m intending to read a lot more of these in 2018.

Of my 112 books this year, I read:

Bought in 2017: 38 books (34%)     Older titles from my own shelves: 28 books (25%)     Borrowed [from library or friends]: 46 books (41%)

[some of my newly acquired books I’m counting as read even though I what I read was a borrowed copy prior to owning my own, if you’re wondering why the numbers don’t add up.]

Another 2017 goal I set was to read one classic per month. These are the 12 classics I picked out last December to read throughout the year:

classics

Of these, I’ve read 10 and 1/3 (The Iliad is the 1/3) of the stories I designated for 2017. But I did make some changes to this list as the year progressed and picked up a few extras, so I did end up reading 15 classics in 2017 (125% of my goal). I’m kind of bummed that I didn’t get around to Dracula or The Count of Monte Cristo, but I am definitely satisfied with the number and titles I did read. I’m setting the same 12-book classics goal in 2018, and I’m planning to structure it the same way: choosing 12 books at the beginning of the year (post to come soon), designating a month for each, and sticking to that list as much as I can throughout the year.

I also want to talk about my first year with a subscription box– Book of the Month Club. I love that BOTM offers a five-book selection that I get to chose from each month, as well as plenty of great extras. The selections are almost always brand new releases (and some early releases), which is awesome. And I also love the online account that goes with the box– where I can log the BOTM books I’ve finished on my virtual bookshelf, review them, sort them by how much I enjoyed them, and see what other readers thought. It’s been a lot of fun. But the downside… it’s been so much fun selecting new BOTM books that I’ve been acquiring more of them than I’ve been able to keep up with reading. I am staying with BOTM for another year. But I’m adding a goal for myself in 2018: to catch up with the books I’ve already received from them, and to stay caught up. By the end of 2018, I want no unread BOTM books on my shelves. For this reason, I’m implementing a goal of choosing only one book per month (instead of the maximum option of three) at least until I’m caught up, when I’ll reconsider how many BOTM books I’ll be able to keep up with per month. I’ve made one exception: in addition to my one new selection in January, I also added 2017’s Book of the Year as an extra to my box. But that’s a one-time-per-year thing, and I did force myself to choose only one new selection for January. Here’s a look at all the books I chose through BOTM throughout the past year:

botm2017

I selected 21 books from BOTM in 2017. I’ve read only 11 BOTM books so far. [This is my most shameful statistic.]

To see more (and more specific) goals you can also check out my 2018 reading challenge, which I self-created.

And in conclusion: I’m happy with the number of books that I read, the variety of genres (though I want to read less fantasy and romance next year), the balance of adult/YA/NA books, the number of borrowed and owned books I read, the amount of new releases and the completion of my reading challenge. But in 2018 I want to pick up more books outside of my norm, fewer guilty pleasures and more books that I think will surprise me. More of the BOTM books I’ve been putting off even though I’m excited for them. More books that I can learn from, rather than just reading for entertainment purposes. I want to broaden my horizons. My biggest goal though is just to buy fewer books until I’m more caught up. Acquiring so many more books than I’m actually reading is a new trend that I don’t like.

What did you read in 2017? Are there any more stats you’d like to see from me?

Sincerely,

The Literary Elephant

 

2018 Reading Challenge

I’m still fighting to wrap up my 2017 challenge before the end of the year, but as I’m focusing on that, I’ve also been thinking about what sort of reading goals I want to strive for in the new year. For a number of reasons that will be listed in a review at the end of my 2017 Reading Challenge Wrap-up (coming next week), I’ve decided to construct my own reading challenge for 2018.

As with many reading challenges, some of the categories I’ve chosen are much more specific than others because there are some books and some types of books that I really want to push myself to get around to this year. But there are also other categories that I left more open so that I can pick up unexpected books throughout the year without sacrificing progress on my challenge.

If you want to join me in this challenge, please feel free! Just link back to this page or any of my updates throughout the year so I have a chance to follow your progress, too. 🙂 I tailored this one to fit me, but it’s absolutely acceptable if you want to adapt it to your own reading needs– change author names, titles, or genres from my list to best fit your own reading goals of 2018. Anything counts!

Here is the first set of challenges: individual books.

  1. A book you didn’t get around to in 2017
  2. A book with a blue cover
  3. A Stephen King book
  4. An illustrated Harry Potter book
  5. A book you’ve loved in the past
  6. A book at least 1000 pages long
  7. The last book in a series
  8. A book recommended by a friend
  9. A prize-winning book
  10. A non-fiction book
  11. A book picked up on a whim from the library
  12. A book at the bottom of your to-read list
  13. A book with a strong female lead
  14. A book from the staff recommendations display at a bookstore
  15. A book in which a beloved character dies
  16. A Shakespeare play
  17. A book that takes place in space
  18. A book by a new-to-you author
  19. A new book by an author you already love
  20. A book of short stories
  21. A memoir
  22. A true-crime book
  23. A book with a five-word title
  24. A book set in another country
  25. A book of poetry

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
  2. Twelve books within a month of their publication dates
  3. The rest of the A Song of Ice and Fire Series
  4. My backlog of Book of the Month books
  5. Nine books by Victoria/V. E. Schwab

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

That’s the Literary Elephant Reading Challenge, 2018. There are 40 categories in total, and books can be used in multiple sets though not in multiple categories within the same set. If you like the structure, feel free to change titles, authors, genres, series, or whatever you like to create your own challenge list. I wanted to set goals that fit my own reading preferences, with challenges that will help me branch out of my comfort zone and work through some unread books on my shelves. Some of the categories will require reading multiple books, but I hope that allowing books to fill multiple categories will keep that from being too overwhelming. I don’t know if I will actually be able to read all of these books within 2018, but I did intend to challenge myself and I think this list will help keep me motivated and on track with what I really want to read this year. I’ll post updates on my progress every three months.

Are you taking part in any reading challenges for 2018? Which ones?

Sincerely,

The Literary Elephant

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reading Challenge Update 3

My interest in completing a reading challenge this year was starting to wane because I was picking up different books than I’d planned early in the year, and I was becoming disheartened by my lack of progress. But I realized that even though I wasn’t necessarily reaching for the books I thought I would be to complete these challenges, I was still fulfilling some of the categories. So after re-examining my list and changing a few of my plans from earlier in the year, I’m feeling good again about my progress and the possibility of completing the challenge (or at least coming close).

User’s guide: the books in parentheses (and orange type) are titles I intend to read but haven’t yet. No parentheses means I’ve already read it and checked it off my list this year. I’m not providing links this time to my corresponding reviews, but if you’re curious about my thoughts on any of the books I’ve read from this list I’d be happy to talk about them in the comments, and I do have full reviews on my site for most of the books I’ve read this year. Stats will be listed at the end.

Here’s where I stand:

  1. A book with more than 500 pages: City of Glass by Cassandra Clare
  2. A classic romance: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
  3. A book that became a movie: Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon
  4. A book published this year: A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas
  5. A book with a number in the title: (Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo)
  6. A book written by someone under thirty: (The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon)
  7. A book with nonhuman characters: All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders
  8. A funny book: A Million Junes by Emily Henry
  9. A book by a female author: The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater
  10. A mystery or thriller: Dark Matter by Blake Crouch
  11. A book with a one-word title: Caraval by Stephanie Garber
  12. A book of short stories: Because You Love to Hate Me by various, ed. Ameriie
  13. A book set in a different country: A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
  14. A nonfiction book: We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  15. A popular author’s first book: City of Bones by Cassandra Clare
  16. A book you haven’t read before from an author you already love: Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood
  17. A book a friend recommended: Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
  18. A Pulitzer Prize-winning book: (All the Light we Cannot See by Anthony Doerr)
  19. A book based on a true story: Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie
  20. A book at the bottom of your to-read list: (The Color Purple by Alice Walker)
  21. A book your mom loves: Vows by LaVyrle Spencer
  22. A book that scares you: Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough
  23. A book more than 100 years old: Persuasion by Jane Austen
  24. A book you picked up because of its cover: Faithful by Alice Hoffman
  25. A book you were supposed to read in school but didn’t: (The Lover by Marguerite Duras)
  26. A memoir: Talking as fast as I Can by Lauren Graham
  27. A book you finish in a day: Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton
  28. A book with antonyms in the title: Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
  29. A book set somewhere you’ve always wanted to visit: Lies She Told
    by Cate Holahan
  30. A book that came out the year you were born: (The Alienist by Caleb Carr)
  31. A book with bad reviews: Lucky You by Erika Carter
  32. A trilogy: The Grisha trilogy: Shadow and Bone, Siege and Storm, and Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo
  33. A book from your childhood: (The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen)
  34. A book with a love triangle: Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare
  35. A book set in the future: Midnight at the Electric by Jodi Lynn Anderson
  36. A book set in high school: The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis
  37. A book with a color in the title: Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
  38. A book that makes you cry: All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
  39. A book with magic: The Magicians by Lev Grossman
  40. A graphic novel: (Saga by Brian K Vaughan and Fiona Staples)
  41. A book by an author you’ve never read before: The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon
  42. A book you own but have never read: I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson
  43. A book that takes place in your hometown: (Still not sure about this one. There are no books that take place in my hometown. I’m still considering adjusting this prompt, but if I can’t come up with a nice compromise, I’ll concede this slot.)
  44. A book that was originally written in a different language: (The Iliad by Homer)
  45. A book set during Christmas: (A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens)
  46. A book written by an author with your same initials: (The Wonder by Emma Donoghue)
  47. A play: (Macbeth by Shakespeare)
  48. A banned book: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  49. A book based on or turned into a TV Show: City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare
  50. A book you started but never finished: Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

My stats –>    Completed Categories: 37/50      Undecided Categories: 1/50     Left to Read: 13/50

My thoughts on reading challenges have changed a lot over the course of this year, and my next (and final) update on this list will reveal those. For now, I’ve got 13 books to fit into the last three months of this year in order to complete this challenge for 2017. I feel like it’s possible, but also I know of several other books I’m going to be reading in these last three months as well, so it’ll be a surprise even to me whether I’m going to check off every item on this list or not.

Are you still working on a 2017 reading challenge? Have you read any of these books? Which of my unread titles here do you recommend I pick up next?

Sincerely,

The Literary Elephant

2017 Reading Challenge

I’m enamored with the idea of reading challenges. They encourage people to step out of their reading comfort zones and pick up books they might otherwise miss. They’re also great for rescuing people from reading ruts. There is little better in the world of books than picking up something unexpectedly great, and one can’t do that without picking up something unexpected.

But college set me back on my TBR, and I want to use 2017 to catch up with what’s already on my radar before I traipse into the unknown and fall farther behind. So next year, I think I want to try a more challenging checklist, but for 2017, I picked up a challenge from my library that looks pretty easy–by which I mean, a lot of the books I already know I want to read fit into it. That’s not the point of a reading challenge, but I’m going to consider 2017  my gateway year to reading challenges. There are 50 challenges on this list, and since this is a catch-up year for me, I don’t know if I’ll complete the prompts that don’t fit with books already on my TBR. Maybe toward the end of the year if I’m feeling ambitious about checking off every item on the list, I’ll look into fulfilling those extra prompts.

If you want to follow along with me, or just pick and choose a few for yourself, please do! I’ve included a list of the prompts below, with the books I’ve picked for each, in parentheses if I haven’t read them yet If they’re not in parentheses, I’ve already checked them off my list. If you have any suggestions for my empty categories, or even for categories I’ve listed a potential book, feel free to share! I’m sure I’ll be picking up new releases throughout the year and shuffling my checklist accordingly, so anything in parentheses is by no means concrete. I’m prioritizing my TBR, but I don’t have any delusions about finishing it completely this year or stopping myself from adding more books to it, so I’m always excited about recommendations. 🙂

Here’s my reading challenge list:

  1. A book over 500 pages – (City of Glass by Cassandra Clare)
  2. A classic romance – (Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen)
  3. A book made into a movie – (Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon)
  4. A book published this year – (A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas)
  5. A book with a number in the title – (Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo)
  6. A book written by someone under 30 – (Iron Gold by Pierce Brown)
  7. A book with nonhuman characters – All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders
  8. A funny book – (My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand and Brodi Ashton)
  9. A book written by a female author – The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater
  10. A mystery or thriller – (Dark Matter by Blake Crouch)
  11. A book with a one-word title – (Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff)
  12. A book of short stories – (Vampires in the Lemon Grove by Karen Russell)
  13. A book set in a different country – (The Wrath and the Dawn by Rene Ahdieh)
  14. A nonfiction book – (Dead Wake by Erik Larson)
  15. A popular author’s first book – City of Bones by Cassandra Clare
  16. A book you haven’t read yet by an author you already love – Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood
  17. A book recommended by a friend – Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell
  18. A Pulitzer Prize-winning book – (All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr)
  19. A book based on a true story – (Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie)
  20. A book at the bottom of your to-read list – (The Color Purple by Alice Walker)
  21. A book your mom loves – Vows by LaVyrle Spencer
  22. A book that scares you – (Not sure yet. Books don’t often scare me. I might put a thriller or horror book here sometime around October if I don’t find something to fit here before then. I’m 90% sure I’ll find something to fit this category.)
  23. A book more than 100 years old – (Persuasion by Jane Austen [199 years old in 2017, for anyone who’s curious])
  24. A book you picked up based entirely on its cover – (Not sure yet. I don’t read books based solely on cover design. I’ll either have to bend this prompt or skip this one. I might just pick a book with a beautiful cover that drew me in, like Alice Hoffman’s Faithful.)
  25. A book you were supposed to read in school but didn’t – (The Lover by Marguerite Duras.)
  26. A memoir – (Talking as Fast as I Can by Lauren Graham)
  27. A book you finished in a day – Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton
  28. A book with antonyms in the title – (Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott)
  29. A book set somewhere you’ve always wanted to visit – (Not sure yet. The places I want to visit are many, and they change frequently. I might end up picking something set in New York, or I might bend this prompt and throw in something that I read that I enjoy so much it inspires me to want to visit its setting.)
  30. A book that came out the year you were born – (I might skip this one. I looked through a list of books that came out in 1994 but I’ve already read the ones that looked interesting to me. I don’t want to reread much this year or pick something that’s not already on my TBR that I’m also not as thrilled about as all the books already on my TBR. I might push myself to try something new from the 1994 list if this is my last obstacle to completing the list, but it’s not a high priority right now.)
  31. A book with bad reviews – (The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness. I’m not entirely sure who wrote this list, and I can see how it’s good to note that different readers have different opinions, but intentionally picking up a book with bad reviews seems like a bad idea. I’ve picked one with mixed reviews instead.)
  32. A trilogy – (The Grisha trilogy by Leigh Bardugo)
  33. A book from your childhood – (Not sure yet. I hate the idea of counting rereads towards a reading challenge, but my childhood is past so I can’t exactly add something new to that category. I’m not sure yet if I’ll skip this one, or choose something by an author that I liked as a child but didn’t read then. I might consider a reread toward the end of the year if I’m determined to fill this slot and haven’t found anything better yet.)
  34. A book with a love triangle – (Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare, or another book from that trilogy if the love triangle seems most prominent in a different one.)
  35. A book set in the future – (Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff)
  36. A book set in high school – (All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven)
  37. A book with a color in the title – (The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons)
  38. A tear-inducing book – (Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys)
  39. A book with magic – (A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab)
  40. A graphic novel – (Not sure yet. I’ve only ever read one graphic novel and I did enjoy it, so I’d like to read more, but I have no idea what I might want to pick up next. I don’t have any graphic novels on my TBR right now, so this is a low priority prompt, but maybe toward the end of the year I’ll try to pick something up. Otherwise I might bend the prompt a little to include an illustrated book that’s already on my TBR.)
  41. A book by an author you’ve never read before – (The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon. To make this count, I’ll read this one before Everything, Everything, which is higher on this list.)
  42. A book you own but have never read – (The Rose and the Dagger by Rene Ahdieh)
  43. A book that takes place in your hometown – (Not sure yet. No book exists that takes place in my hometown, as far as I’ve been able to find, so I might pick something that takes place in my state. Again, low priority because there aren’t any on my TBR at the moment. Maybe toward the end of the year, or maybe I’ll skip this one.)
  44. A book that was originally written in a different language – (The Illiad by Homer)
  45. A book set during Christmas – (A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens)
  46. A book written by an author with your same initials – (Not sure yet. I don’t think there’s any E. D. authors on my TBR right now, and no specific book springs to mind for this prompt. I might skip this one if I can’t find anything promising, but if you have any suggestions, please let me know!)
  47. A play – (Not sure yet. Does Hamilton: The Revolution count for this one? That one’s been recommended to me but I’m not entirely sure what it is yet. I’m also considering a few Shakespeare plays I’ve been meaning to read for years (Hamlet and Macbeth). I’m sure I can fill this prompt easily, I’m just undecided on what I’ll choose for it.)
  48. A banned book – (To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. This is a reread, but I’ll count it because I’m rereading it with the intention of reading Go Set a Watchman directly after, which is not a reread, although I don’t think it counts for this prompt. I’ll probably put something else here if I end up reading a banned book that’s not a reread.)
  49. A book based on or turned into a TV show – (City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare)
  50. A book you started but never finished – (Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte)

My stats so far:

6/50 books completed.

9/50 I’m not sure yet what to fulfill the category with.

I’m not going to update this post as I go, because I’m sure it will change as my actual reading of 2017 replaces my ideal reading and I want to be able to look back at where I started when the end of the year rolls around. Instead, I’ll link below a few (three) update posts that I’ll blog throughout the year to keep track of my progress, if you’re interested in following my challenge.

Have you read any of these books? Are you taking part in any reading challenges this year? Do you have any suggestions for me about which books I should prioritize or how to fill the categories I’m still unsure about? Please let me know in the comments below!

Sincerely,

The Literary Elephant