2011 Reading Challenges and Goals: Are You Ready?

BlogHer Original Post

As 2010 winds down and I start looking towards 2011, I am thinking about reading goals for the coming year. For me, reading goals are about more than just what books I want to read. No, what I'm really thinking about is how I want to spend my time. When I look back at 2010 I can see that I read less than I did the year before, and that I blogged about books even less. I sent a lot of books back to the library unread. I didn't lose my reading spark but it got dimmed. I need something that will help me find that spark again. Looking at the reading challenges out there and setting some goals can help me with that.

I have a rather checkered past with reading challenges and goals. I'm very good at making them but I fail spectacularly at doing them. I didn't even make a dent in my 2010 reading goals (though I will say in my defense that 2010 was a bit of a challenging year for me), and I believe I've only properly completed one reading challenge of the very many I've ever signed up for. For example, I've tried the A-Z Challenge in the past, but I don't know if I read even a quarter of the books before crying uncle.

It's not that I'm not capable of completing challenges. I can tell you right now I'd ROCK this Support Your Local Library Challenge. Me and my local library are BFFs. I could rule this YA Reading Challenge as well. I already read oodles of YA and I'll probably only be reading YA in January because I'm a judge for the YA category final round of the Cybils. I don't think I'd find the Foodies Reading Challenge especially challenging either since I read a healthy amount of food-lit every year. I like steampunk but I don't know that I really want to read that many in a short period of time. Ditto zombies.

Which leads to this question -- do I want challenges and goals that I can meet easily or ones that make me push? The Take a Chance Challenge could push my boundaries and make me read some books outside my usual scope. And the School of Life Challenge could push me to investigate some of those topics I'm interested in but haven't tackled yet. The only thing with that is I already have shelves teeming with unread books about topics I'm interested in. I don't need to add more on to that pile.

I need to ask myself what I really want to do next year. I've said this every year for I don't know how many years, but I'd like to read more of the books that I own. My bookcases are, yet again, getting full and they are at the point where I can't really justify bringing home more books until I read some of them. Now there are oodles of challenges out there about reading your own books. I stopped counting them after I got to six. I think my favorite is probably Tragic Right Hip's Off the Shelf Challenge in which she's just trying to read her own books. She has no limits, no lists and really no rules (I don't do well with rules, I always want to break them). In fact she's already started it even though it's still 2010. I do kind of like Bibliophile by the Sea's Reading From my Shelves Challenge, too. Her challenge has the addition of getting some of those books out of the house after you've read them. If I want to buy more books (and I always will) I need to read and maybe pass along some of the ones I currently have.

I am wondering if I could arrange the books that I want to read, the ones that are leering at me from my dusty bookshelves, and parse them down enough to include them in the Twentyeleven challenge where you read 20 books in 11 categories. I actually think I could have quite a bit of fun with this one. A slightly less challenging option is the One Two Theme Challenge where you pick at least three themes and dive in.

Among all those unread books is a large stack of Georgette Heyer novels that would make doing the Georgette Heyer Historical Fiction Reading Challenge a snap. I'd totally be down with diving into a pile of Jeeves and Wooster for the Wodehouse Challenge. I'm forever thinking about books that I wished I've read (like more Heyer and Wodehouse) so the Wish I'd Read That Challenge could be a good fit. The lowest participation level requires you to read three books and well, don't I wish I'd read all the books on my bookshelves? Yes, I do and that's way more than three.

As I mentioned above I didn't read a lot this year, at least not by my standards, and nothing close to what I thought I'd read. I would like to read more books in 2011 than I did in 2010. I didn't crack 100 books this year so maybe the 100+ Reading Challenge would inspire me. Maybe. It's more common for me not to crack 100 books in a year than it is for me to do so. I think that the Outdo Yourself Reading Challenge might be a really, really good fit for me.

None of these challenges on there are a perfect fit for me on their own. That's not really unusual for me. Reading through all the challenges does help me figure out what I want. I could create my own challenge but what suits me better is to use those challenges to create Sassymonkey specific reading goals. So without further ado here they are:

Sassymonkey's 2011 Reading Goals:

1.Read more in 2011 than I did in 2010. I might join the Outdo Yourself Reading Challenge but I haven't decided yet. It's something that I want to do anyway and doesn't hold me to a specific number, list or a bunch of rules.

2. Be smarter about how I request books from the library. I'm not going to stop requesting books (I briefly considered it and then declared the thought crazy) but I'd like to request them with more care so I don't always feel so overwhelmed when they arrive for me. Often I'll have no idea why I requested the book or remember anything about it. That can be fun (I've read some great books that way) but with my reading count already down I find it more overwhelming than exciting when I end up with a huge pile of requests. I'll need to use the "save for later" more or maybe just suspend some of the holds until I really ready for them.

3. Read more of my own books. When I do downstairs and look at my shelves it makes me sad that I haven't read more of those books. Enough already. So what if my library books have a due date? I can renew them or re-request them. I care enough to bring home the books I buy, I shouldn't feel guilty paying attention to them. I'm going to go with Tragic Right Hip and not give myself any lists or limits, but I'm also going to try to find some of them new homes after I read them so I can bring more books into the house.

4. Find the fun in book blogging again. Book blogging and reading go hand-in-hand for me and sometime this year blogging about books became more of a chore than a pleasure. I need to remember why I started doing it in the first place and find that fun again. I know I can do it.

Have you signed up for any challenges or set reading goals for 2011? If you are looking for inspiration check out Novel Challenges, which has the most comprehensive listing of challenges I've seen.

Contributing Editor Karen Ballum also blogs at Sassymonkey and Sassymonkey Reads.

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