Reading challenges are not my jam. They normally don’t pack enough actual ‘challenge’ for me. I read too much (#bookbrag). Or I forget about them. It’s occasionally fun to do a themed month (hello, vintage sci-fi month in January), but mostly I get distracted by yet another shiny galley or cover and wander off to read for hours without any requirements or readathons.
I did, however, pick up the Book Riot Read Harder Challenge list at the Read Harder book group in my city (there might be one in yours!). The purpose of this list is to make you read more widely, to pick up books you normally would not pick up. There are obviously a few categories where I would like to put down ‘see attached spreadsheet’ (graphic novels, LGBTQ lit, sci-fi), but there are four that I am missing completely (I feel rather guilty about missing an author from Africa; I can name at least five off the top of my head, yet I read exactly zero books by African authors this year). And while you can use the same book for multiple categories, I am a reading overachiever and aim to avoid this. Audiobooks are hard for me because I don’t have a commute and also forget to pay attention when listening, at least with fiction. I might try non-fiction and pretend it’s a long podcast. Romance novels aren’t particularly difficult, I just don’t read them, which is basically the exact situation this reading challenge is supposed to rectify.
I also don’t read self-help books. Not because I think I don’t need help (or that I am beyond it), I just can’t stand most of self-help literature. So I am sort of cheating and listing Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson as a self-help book. It technically is. It’s helping me right this moment by saying that having irrational fears and depression most of the time is not weird. Plus, there is this amazing chapter titled ‘Things My Father Taught Me’ that is chock-full of useful life advice such as ‘Always shoot first. Because bears don’t shoot. They just eat you. You’ll never win if you wait for the bear to get the first shot. This is all basic hunting 101.’ I am Canadian, I feel like this is advice I can use.
Alternatively, I might listen to Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed on audio. Because that’s also good advice.