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  • Writer's pictureKara C White

Unique Reading Challenge Ideas to Up Your Reading Game

It's all up to you!

If you're like me, you want to keep your reading life fresh and exciting. It can be all too easy to fall into a reading slump, especially if the last few books you've tried just didn't capture your imagination.

A popular option this time of year is to commit to a reading challenge. Some challenges are specific and hyper-detailed. Others are short and leave lots of room for variety. Either way, the goal of reading challenges is essentially the same-- to add some structure to your book choices and encourage you to stretch yourself as a reader. Some reading challenges will focus on quantity, like say a challenge to read a certain number of books in a year or a certain number of total pages. Other challenges try to guide readers toward content such as certain genres or themes.

What sort of challenge is best? The answer of course, dear reader, lies with you! Committing to a reading challenge that doesn't truly suit your needs, interests, or resources (time or otherwise) will only stress you out. The purpose of a challenge is to enhance your reading life, not make you feel anxious or guilty.

So before you sign on for any and every reading challenge you scroll by on Bookstagram, spend a little time reflecting on how you'd like your reading life to change and grow.

  • What's been working for you?

  • What's hasn't?

  • What do you want more of in your reading life?

  • What do you need less of?

  • Is the exact number of books you read in the next year important to you?

  • Is there a topic or theme you'd like to explore more?

With a clearer idea of what you want and need, you can design a personalized reading challenge that serves you and your reading life! It's all up to you, but I do have a few ideas to get you started.

Some book challenges focus on a central theme. These sorts of challanges are great for a deep dive into a specific area. With a challange of this nature you decide how many books you need to read in order to complete your mission. You could try...

  • An author's full backlist

  • Books translated from another language into English

  • Books from a certain genre or subgenre such as historical fiction set in a particular time/place, enemies-to-lovers romance, coming-of-age novels, or speculative fiction

  • Books from an annual "Best Books List." You can pick any year!

  • Book recommendations from friends or family members. Ask those you know and love which titles they adore, then compile their suggestions into your challenge list. This is a fun way to build relationships and get to know people better!


Available now... my new FREE Reading Tracker Printable! It's designed to be a fun and whimsical way to track your daily reading time and help you meet your reading goals. To get access to this FREE printable, just sign up for email alerts here on my blog. Click on the Log In/Sign Up button at the top of the page to get started today!


Other book challenges offer more variety for a wider reading experience. I like this kind of challenge to try topics and genres which I don't usually pick. Here are 9 possibilites you could try or come up with your own. It's a choose-your-own-adventure challenge!

  • A debut novel

  • An award-winning book

  • A non-fiction book

  • A book about nature

  • A book with a movie based on it

  • A sci-fi or fantasy book

  • A book by a BIPOC author

  • A memoir

  • A childhood favorite

Reading challenges can be more fun when others join in. A group approach also provides some built-in accountability toward achieving your goal! Members of a book club could adopt a reading challenge. A circle of friends or family members can join together for a challenge. There are plenty of online reading challenges, especially around the new year. To that end, I used the ideas listed above to create my own! Feel free to read along with me during 2024. I'll be posting about the titles I select for these categories over on Instagram and providing occasional updates to my progress here on the blog.

However you choose to challenge yourself, remember, a good challenge is one that stretches you-- not stresses you. You want to strengthen your reading life, not turn your reading time into a bore or burden. And if you start a challenge that doesn't work out-- no worries! Just "turn the page," and find something that works better for you in that moment.

Do you enjoy reading challenges? Let's ready... set... read together in 2024! Share your thoughts and book suggestions with me in the comments.

Best wishes for further reading!



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