Bloggiesta Mini-Challenge: How To Get the Most Out of Reading Challenges

September 16, 2015 Uncategorized 25

Why Challenges-Why Challenges-SquareI recently finished participating in the somewhat complicated Seasonal Reading Challenge on Goodreads. This challenge typically involves 100+ tasks and absolutely requires that you plan your reading with the challenge in mind. I found that I did a lot better job keeping up with this challenge than I do with most of the other challenges I join. However, I didn’t find participating very fulfilling. This made me think about what motivates me to work on a reading challenge and what I need to get out of one to make it worth my time. Based on what I figured out, here are some tips for getting the most out of a reading challenge and a mini-challenge plus giveaway for you to try them out. 

The first step to getting the most out of challenges is to figure out why you like them in the first place! When I asked other bloggers why they participate in reading challenges, the main answer I got was that they wanted motivation to read outside their comfort zone. That’s true for me too! I also participate in challenges for:

  • Motivation to read specific types of books
  • Camaraderie
  • A feeling of achievement
  • Accountability

I’m currently not doing my reading challenges in a way that helps me reach those goals, but participating in The Seasonal Reading Challenge gave me some ideas for fixing that.

1. Sign up for the right challenges.

If you want to read outside of your comfort zone or read specific genres, make sure to sign up for challenges that require you to actually do that. I find that if there are enough options for the challenge that I can avoid actually reading anything out of my usual routine, that’s probably what I’ll do! My go-to resource for finding challenges is A Novel Challenge, where you can find awesome blogging events and challenges for any type of book you might want to read.

2. Plan your reading around the challenges.

Actually sit down and plan your reading – monthly, yearly, or quarterly – based on what you need to finish the challenge level you signed up for. If you’re just reading genres you read anyway, this might not be necessary. But if you want to use challenges to push yourself to read something new, you’ll probably need to make an effort to stay on top of things.

3. Actually keep up with recording your challenge progress.

Don’t let the books you’ve read for a challenge pile up. Link up regularly. This will help you keep yourself accountable, increase your feeling of accomplishment, and make it possible for other participants to come check out what you’re up to.

4. Visit reviews from other participants.

If you want your challenge to be a social thing, be sure to visit other participants. This can be a great way to find other bloggers who share your love of  a particular genre or who also value increased diversity in their reading!

5. Post progress updates.

If you need extra accountability, regularly reporting how you’re doing on the blog could be a good way to get that. It will also allow you to interact with your readers about your challenge progress and probably to hear about their progress as well.

I realize all of these things may sound obvious – basically, sign up for challenges that fit your goals and then do them – but this isn’t what I’ve been doing. I currently sign up for many challenges and then occasionally remember to check whether any of the books I’ve read fit these challenges. Even if you’re ahead of me on this, hopefully something on this list will be a good thing for you to work on during Bloggiesta, because that’s the mini-challenge!

Pick one of these things to work on (revisit your challenge choices, plan some challenge reading, update your records of challenge reading, catch up on linking up for a challenge, or visit other challenge participants) or work on updating your challenge participation in another way. Then let me know what you did in the comments and use the rafflecopter to enter the giveaway. Happy Bloggiesta!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

25 Responses to “Bloggiesta Mini-Challenge: How To Get the Most Out of Reading Challenges”

  1. Heather

    I don’t like planning my reading so I usually only do ones that my reading fits in because it gives me a place to link reviews. I tried the seasonal challenge once. I got yelled at a lot for screwing up my reporting. That took the fun out of it.
    Heather recently posted…Women on Wednesday #2My Profile

    • DoingDewey

      Haha, yeah, I got shouted at some too. I do like to sign up for challenges that just fit with the genres I read, but I need to do a better job remembering to link up! I don’t typically plan my reading either, but I would like to be more intentional about the books I pick up and less distracted by whatever shiny things the publishers send my way. I think challenges could help me do that if I start planning my reading a little 🙂
      DoingDewey recently posted…And the #NFBookClub October Read Is…My Profile

  2. Laurie C

    Great tips! I only sign up for one yearlong challenge and tend to ignore it completely except in January and November (when I realize the only way to complete it is if I read nothing but the books for the challenge for the rest of the year) so yes, some of us DO need you to point out what may appear obvious to others!
    Laurie C recently posted…Blogroll Overhaul: A Bloggiesta Mini ChallengeMy Profile

    • DoingDewey

      Haha, yeah, I’m signed up for a number of challenges so I’m just reaching the point where I’m realizing that I need to really buckle down if I want to finish them and am starting to think about them for the first time since January. And I’m glad to hear it’s not just me 🙂

  3. Elizabeth the Evil Overlord

    I always end up choosing challenges that fit my reading anyway and they end up being about accountability and accomplishment. In February, I discovered one of those Bingo challenges and that made me have to plan a little more, which I liked. But I also worry about getting so scheduled between challenges and ARCs that I don’t have time for just some “me” books, or something that pops up.
    Elizabeth the Evil Overlord recently posted…Little Woman WordsMy Profile

    • DoingDewey

      I think I’m going to have to cut down on challenges a bit next year, so that I can plan reading based on my challenge and avoid being overscheduled. Because you’re right, it would be nice to have some unscheduled reading time too!

      PS – I love your blog and username! Very fun 🙂

  4. Charlene @ Bookish Whimsy

    I find it so hard to stick to reading challenges, but your tips do seem very helpful to keep on track. Especially to recognize what you want to get out of the challenge. I don’t think they are for me in general though – it’s irksome for me to feel like I have to read something if I’m looking forward to reading something else. I did sign up for the Classics Club challenge awhile back though, so maybe I can try using your tips to get myself back on track! 🙂
    Charlene @ Bookish Whimsy recently posted…A Blog AnnouncementMy Profile

    • DoingDewey

      Thanks Charlene! I hope they’re helpful for me too 🙂 I also dislike having to read something even though I’m not in the mood for it, but I’m hoping that if I schedule books by month, I can fit them in when I’m excited to.

  5. Ali

    I don’t usually do a lot of challenges, because I feel like it hinders my reading, but I did find one that I entered. Hopefully since it’s laid back and it’s a whole month and not a whole year, I might be able to keep up with it. Great mini challenge topic!

  6. Brittany @ The Crafty Engineer's Bookshelf

    I made a list of everything remaining for my reading challenges this year and am currently going through the books I own (I have over 1000 on my kindle) to see what I own that I can read for these. It will probably take me a couple of days to complete this since I do have so many books and I would rather read what I have first.

    I also checked the linky for each of the challenges to see what I had already linked and what I still need to link so that I can do this later today.

    Thank you for the great challenge!
    Brittany @ The Crafty Engineer’s Bookshelf recently posted…Fall Bloggiesta To Do ListMy Profile

    • DoingDewey

      Going through your kindle is a great idea! I should try doing the same thing. I have far more books on there than I’m aware of.

      And I definitely need to catch up on linking up too! Using the Ultimate Book Blogger plugin has helped me keep track of challenge reads on my blog a bit better, but I’ve not been doing hardly any linking up.
      DoingDewey recently posted…And the #NFBookClub October Read Is…My Profile

  7. Guiltless Reading

    I struggle with reading challenges and I am really picky about them, otherwise I feel like I’m such a slacker 🙂 So No. 1 is key for me. I’ve started listing down all the challenges and memes (here’s my list-in progress: http://guiltlessreading.blogspot.ca/2015/08/the-soon-to-be-monster-list-of-all.html). Longer-term challenges seem to work better for me but I do join in short (like one book challenges) and seem to work better that way. Well, at least for now. Thanks for the tips and definitely bookmarking this post so I keep better track of things 🙂
    Guiltless Reading recently posted…Fall #Bloggiesta: How $10 can prettify your blog. (Or #Win it & it’s FREE!)My Profile

  8. Paul

    Great article Katie.

    When i set up challenges I make sure that they are interesting enough to have lots sign up. I then run two threads that have the conversations on the books that people are reading, and the other to post their book lists on. The social aspect is hugely important as well as the encouragement that you get from groups.

    The one this year for Book Vipers has 54 subjects in it that people have to find a book to match too. Lots of people say they have as much fun finding and planing the books as they do reading outside their comfort zones.

    We then do a small summer challenge that is three books only, two of your own and one group one. Last year was poetry and this year was read the book, watch the film.

    • DoingDewey

      Thanks Paul! I really like the goodreads groups you have going on for your challenge. It does seem like the social aspect gets the attention it needs that way. I really like when challenges have regular check-ins, associated goodreads groups, twitter chats or something else that gets people interacting 🙂

  9. Nikki

    Great post!!
    I’m generally OK with challenges but really early this year I realised how RIDICULOUS my classics challenge was. I was challenging myself to read a bunch of classics : most from before 1800(?? maybe?) or between 1800 and 1999(??? I’m fuzzy on the date ranges) and two random ones from whenever (I think I chose ones after 1999. I made an effort to make the list mostly female which is a break from my norm because I read mostly men in general. But every time I went to read something off the list I would feel sooo demotivated. I think it’s partly because the list was very pale with only one author of colour and I had been making great strides on diversifying my reading generally to include BOTH more women AND more people of colour. It felt like a step backwards every time I even GLANCED at that classics challenge. To top it off I had to admit to myself that it’s never been a ‘challenge’ for me to read classics. I don’t think it’s an area I struggle with at all and I don’t need encouragement to do that more (well….maybe except in the case of this particular reading challenge haha!). I found that I was actually still reading classics…just not the ones on the list. Which brought me to the other issue. I just have a terrible time trying to stick to very specific lists where you detail each title you’ll read. I need a category so I can randomly change the book at the last minute or so I can discover a new book or genre and swap out a previous challenge contender for the new, more interesting pick. I fully realise this now and will probably no longer be participating in challenges to read specific books.
    I’ve been doing well on all my other goals though. They’ve been more category-led (like “try to make 50% of your books by authors who identify as female”). And I feel better about them while still being challenged.
    I think your tips, while they might SEEM obvious, are actually really great and helpful reminders to refocus when thinking of how to conduct reading challenges! Thanks for the post 🙂
    Nikki recently posted…Books That Opened Up A Genre (Claire Edition)My Profile

    • DoingDewey

      I much prefer categories to specific books too, especially for longer challenges, so I can mood read while doing the challenge. I also think I either need to pass on the challenges that are just what I read anyway or get better at linky up. Otherwise, what am getting out of them? I think it’s great that you’ve already figured out what makes challenges work or not work for you. I’m still working that out myself 🙂