Want to read more in 2020? Grab these 25 reading challenge ideas + FREE reading challenge workbook and tracker to create your own reading challenge
I wasn’t always an avid reader even though my parents were bookworms. In fact, as a kid and young adult, I would have rather been playing outside than stuck inside reading. But as my health drastically changed in 2002, I soon had to turn to less active sources of entertainment and distraction from stress. I fell in love with reading with the book that turned me into an incurable bookworm. Soon I learned about reading challenges and was seeking out reading challenge ideas to motivate me to read more and books outside of my (at the time) chick lit comfort zone.
I soon became hooked on reading challenges and I loved discussing great books across genres and connecting with book bloggers from all over the world. I loved the creativity behind their reading challenge ideas, if you could think it, there was a reading challenge for it. But I talked to a lot of people who felt like reading challenges were too restrictive and they just want to read what they want. I kept failing because most reading challenges were a year long and I felt like the slowest reader ever. I needed less rules and more flexibility.
So I decided to create my own Travel the World in Books Reading Challenge which I hosted with a couple other bloggers. And it was great! I could make it as flexible as I wanted (there were no set rules, each person created their own challenge), I picked a topic I was passionate about (exploring other countries and cultures through books) and now with 9 months left in my 50 books in 5 years challenge, I only have one book left to read to complete it! Creating my own reading challenge was fun and it fulfilled it’s purpose for getting me to read more, learn more and enjoy my trip around the world in books.
I love encouraging others to read more. As I tell my kids, I won’t tell you what to read as long as you just read!
Are you ready to create your own reading challenge? If it’s been your goal to incorporate more reading into your life, a reading challenge you create yourself is the perfect way to get motivated and find your reading mojo.
To help you along, I have 25 Create Your Own Reading Challenge Ideas to help you brainstorm what kind of books you’d like to read.
Note: This post contains affiliate links as indicated by an asterisk. Purchases from these links provides a small commission to me at no extra cost to you.
25 Reading Challenge Ideas to Create Your Own Challenge
These are just some reading challenge ideas to get your creative juices flowing so you can create a reading challenge that motivates YOU to make time to read more. Pick as many as you like and combine them together to inspire you to make more time for yourself and achieve your reading goals. Scroll to the bottom to be sure to grab the FREE printable so you can download and print your own reading challenge idea prompt list and reading challenge trackers to record books read and your progress towards your goals!
1. Pick a timeframe
How long do you want the reading challenge to last? A season, One year, 5 years, or however long it takes to read them all?
2. Pick who is participating
Will you be doing this challenge by yourself for some self care/me time, with your spouse, with your kids, or with your book club?
3. Pick #
How many books or pages would you like to read? Last year, I missed my goal to read 52 books and only read 38, but I felt better when I saw that I had read 9,338 pages. Almost 10,000 pages felt like a bigger victory and a greater sense of accomplishment! Wouldn’t it be cool to see how long it would take to read 1,000,000 pages?
4. Pick book format
Have too many books on your bookshelves or Kindle? Choose to read your paperbacks, hardcovers, e-books, or Advance Reader Copiess (ARCs).
5. Pick book type
Want to read a particular type of book? Choose to read some Big books, novels, short stories, poetry, anthologies, novellas, or graphic novels/comics.
6. Pick where you get book from
Think about where your stack of unread books is? Where do you like or want to get books from for this challenge? Want to read from your bookshelf of books you haven’t read, new releases you have to buy, Book of the Month* , the library or catch up on your Netgalley if you are a book reviewer?
By the way, I just signed up for Book of the Month* because The Clockmaker’s Daughter by Kate Morton is one of the October books and she is one of my favorite authors (see picture below). I got The Clockmaker’s Daughter from Book of the Month cheaper than it was on Amazon* plus I got a free book and chose Elin Hildebrand’s Winter in Paradise*.
7. Pick genre
Want to read outside of your usual genre of books? The sky’s the limit here. Pick a different genre than you normally read. Literary fiction, romance, historical fiction, classics, horror, mystery, cultural fiction, southern lit, British lit, westerns, YA, dystopian, science fiction, chick lit just for starters.
8. Pick an author
Was there an author you’ve read before whose books you just couldn’t put down? Go back and read all your favorite author’s backlist, pick authors local to you you might have the chance to meet in person, pick authors on an award list or a recent bestseller list. Here is my collection of some of my favorite authors and their backlist books I score at library sales:
9. Pick Favorite Characters
Have a favorite literary character that is featured in more than one story? I loved mysteries as a kid and Sherlock Holmes is my favorite literary character so I collect books by Arthur Conan Doyle and others with Sherlock in them too. I also love anything Harry Potter related and enjoy fairy tale retellings (Danielle Paige’s Snow White and Dorothy Must Die books* are on my to read list).
If you liked Pride and Prejudice, there are a ton of books featuring the Bennetts and Mr. Darcy. Find favorite characters and related fiction with your beloved characters by the original author and other authors who love those characters too.
10. Pick by book setting
Want to travel around the world, around your country or around your state? Pick books set in each state of your country, books on your travel bucket list, books set in all 7 continents, books to explore other cultures and countries, or books from a particular region (like my friend Lucy who’s reading books set in Northern Lights countries). A book bag is much easier to pack than a suitcase! Here are some of my favorites from my Travel the World in Books shelf and a few I’d like to read:
11. Pick fiction or nonfiction
Tend to read all fiction or all nonfiction? Diversify your reading by picking the other.
12. Pick page to screen or stage
We all know the book is better than the movie. Ok, well most of the time. But you won’t know for sure until you pick up the book and see the movie. Pick books based on movies or TV shows (I’m reading part of the Rory Gilmore Reading Challenge) or movies or TV Shows based on books (Game of Thrones* and Outlander* are both STILL on my shelf/Kindle to read).
Pick stage plays and musicals based on books (like Wicked. I haven’t seen the musical but I hear it’s waaaay different than the book).
13. Pick a time period that fascinates you or want to learn more about
Is there a time period that fascinates you? Or one you want to learn more about? Choose books from a particular time period, maybe the decade you were born or stories set in the future. You could read more about World War 2, the Jazz Age, the 60’s, 1800’s, the Wild West, the Space race, the Great Depression, exploration and colonization, Medieval times or the Renaissance. So much great historical fiction here!
14. Pick famous or inspirational people you want to learn more about or books a celebrity is reading
Want to know more about how famous people got their break or more about the life of a person who inspires you? Want to be inspired by their stories? Want to read what book-loving celebrities are reading? Read historical fiction based on real people (I loved Mademoiselle Chanel about Coco Chanel and her story made me want to read more about her). I also have several historical fiction novels by Michelle Moran* and Phillipa Gregory* . You could also read biographies, memoirs, or books from Reese Witherspoon‘s or Oprah’s book club.
15. Pick Books You’ve Always Meant to Read or Want to Reread
Weren’t paying attention or didn’t care the first time around? Want to reread a beloved favorite? Choose some childhood classics you never read or books you had to read for English class but didn’t appreciate or finish the first time around. Probably about half of my Classics Club list are books I wasn’t really paying attention to the first time around. (Sorry English teachers out there).
16. Pick by color, letter or number
We tell kids to eat the rainbow, the more colorful the fruits and veggies, the better. Just for fun, why not read the rainbow? Pick covers or titles with colors of the rainbow in it, a different color a month perhaps. Here’s some fun I had with pink and red covers from my bookshelf:
Read titles or authors for every letter of the alphabet (ok, I might just have the Penguin Drop Caps collection* in mind for this one because those alphabet covers and spines are just stunning which brings me to…)
17. Pick by pretty covers you want to display on your shelf
I’m guilty, I totally judge a book by it’s cover and with classics especially, I’m more likely to read them when they have a gorgeous cover.
I’m collecting the Barnes & Noble paperback classics* because paperbacks are easier for me to hold and they are less expensive and the Barnes & Noble Leatherbound children’s classics* for the kids. But I also have these gorgeous Penguin clothbound classics* and the Juniper Books Harry Potter sets* on my wishlist.
18. Pick a hobby
Is there a hobby you have that you would enjoy reading about? My littlest son was my most reluctant reader so I had to pick books from the library based on his favorite toys. Now I think he’s read every Lego and Minecraft book in the library for both adults and kids. That’s ok, it got him to want to read.
Love sports, music, art, gardening, cooking? There are tons of books fiction and nonfiction for those too.
19. Pick a resolution or goal
Do you have a particular resolution or goal you are trying to achieve? Find books to motivate you to grow your business, improve your health, get fit, be productive, manage your time effectively, save or make money, declutter your house, grow in your faith, learn about world religions, or improve mindfulness and meditation.
20. Pick Award winners
Want to read what the hype is about? Choose books that are award winners. From the Nobel Prize in Literature, and Pulitzer to Goodreads Choice and the Caldecott Medal for Children’s books, there are lots of great award-winning reads to choose from!
21. Pick Bestsellers
Want to read what the hype about? Choose books that are current or prior year bestsellers on the New York Times or Amazon Best Seller Lists.
22. Pick Banned books
Find out and be shocked with which books are on the banned book list. Chances are you’ve read some of them already! Channel your rebellious side and read some more. They even have a Banned Book Week at the end of September.
23. Pick books set in a particular season
Ready for the change of seasons or need a break from the cold in winter and the stifling heat of summer? Pick a seasonal reading challenge. Snow, ice and holiday themed winter books, gardens, springtime in Europe for spring, books set on an island in the summer, or spooky, magical and mystical books in the fall. Here are some of my books from my winter reading list:
24. Pick A Book series
Are you the last one to read Outlander, The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, Percy Jackson or The Game of Thrones? No, I might be but they are all series we already have on the shelf so it’d be silly not to read them! Is there a series you want to read or already bought for your kids? Kids’ series are so much fun, I start with those when I need to decompress and want something I can read quickly. Go for a series when you want to savor the time you spend in the characters’ world.
25. Make your own book list
Of course, you can always just write down all the books you’d like to read, ones you pinned, ones you marked to read in Goodreads, ones you see people reading while you are out, ones you hear about. Wherever and whenever it is, mark it down, snap a photo, scan it into the Goodreads app, and just read from your own book list.
Want a printable list of these reading challenge ideas?
Subscribe to my newsletter and get a FREE workbook and checklist of these ideas plus more bookish and planner goodies in the Exclusive Subscriber Library!
my favorite reading challenges for adults
My favorite reading challenges for adults are:
- Books you’ve always meant to read
- Personal development books
- Backlist books from my favorite authors
- Books I’ve collected and haven’t read yet
- A particular theme (travel the world in books, historical fiction, classics, horror, winter, Christmas)
BEST READING CHALLENGES
Reading challenges are fun because of their communities and the excitement of other readers sharing the books they love. They are great too because you can do them on your own without the commitment of going to book club meetings and/or reading books you would not want to read.
To me, the best reading challenges are the ones where you can set your own time limit. I have a hard time finishing a long list within a year so these are the best reading challenges with no time limit!
- Rory Gilmore Reading Challenge
- Travel the World in Books Reading Challenge
- Classics Club
- The Unread Shelf Project (popular on Instagram too, follow @theunreadshelf and #theunreadshelfproject)
Year Reading Challenge
Reading challenges that are to be completed in one year. Year long reading challenges are a lot of fun especially when they have active community members, the bookish love is contagious!
- Popsugar Reading Challenge
- Modern Mrs. Darcy Reading Challenge
- A To Z Reading Challenge
- Read Harder Reading Challenge
- Mount TBR Reading Challenge
READ A BOOK A MONTH CHALLENGE
Here’s a few of my favorite read a book a month challenges!
- Monthly Motif Reading Challenge – a different theme a month
- Monthly Keyword Reading Challenge– read books with different keywords in the title per month
- The Unread Shelf Project 2020 – she introduced monthly challenges too
- Go Big or Go Home Reading Challenge – read a 500 page or more book each month
- Diversify Your Reading challenge – a different genre each month
I hope you’ve got some great reading challenge ideas now to jump start your reading this year! Reading challenges are a great way to broaden your horizons, learn more and encourage fun and interesting conversations with friends and people you meet. Don’t forget to download my free reading challenge ideas workbook and reading challenge tracker and get inspired to unleash your inner bookworm!