Readers love a good challenge. We don’t just want to read books, we want to be strategic about how we tackle our ever-growing TBR lists. As 2022 comes to a close, we’re already making plans for how to meet our 2023 reading challenge goals. Check out our tips below!
Explore your options
Reading challenges come in a variety of forms. Let’s break them down into the two most common categories to take a closer look.
A personal challenge is a goal you set for yourself, such as wanting to read a certain number of books in a year. These challenges can be shared with your fellow readers (in fact it can be helpful to have support and encouragement!), but are solely dictated by you. Places such as Goodreads and Storygraph can be helpful to track your goals (more details below), or you can use Canva to create a graphic if you want to share your progress throughout the year.
A guided challenge is generally set by an organization (such as a book club) or an individual with the intention of having as many readers as possible join in the fun. Many of these challenges involve specific prompts, like BookishFirst’s monthly Bookish Bingo, though some are more general, like the A to Z challenge, where you try to read book titles beginning with each letter of the alphabet.
Remember: Some challenges are meant to last throughout 2023 while others are seasonal or monthly. You can participate in as many reading challenges as you like and join in at any point during the year. The most important thing is having fun and tackling ones that match up with your personal goals.
Think outside the box
Many readers choose a specific number of books they hope to read each year, but you might want to consider setting a challenge that has nothing to do with a number. For example, you could try to write a review for every book you read, set a goal for posting consistently on your bookish social media channel (such as a Bookstagram, Booktube channel, blog, or BookTok), or join a book club. Tackling a new reading habit can be a fun way to challenge yourself while still reading as many books as you’d like!
Consider your physical and virtual shelves
Before you commit to a reading challenge, it can be helpful to take a look at your TBR. If a challenge has a set of prompts to be completed over the course of the year, see how closely the books on your shelves match up to them. You may find that the prompts are a great fit for your reading tastes, or that they’re difficult to pair books to, in which case another challenge might be a better fit.
If your challenge is more broad such as reading a certain number of books or changing a reading habit, start by making a plan. Creating a shortlist of books you’re excited to read next year can give you inspiration anytime you’re struggling to decide what to pick up, and setting up a schedule of how many books to read per month can help to ensure that you meet your goal.
Those tackling reading habits can put together an agenda such as a day of the week to write reviews (if your challenge is to review more books) or a time of day dedicated to reading (if you want to make more time for relaxing with a good book).
Find a tracking method that works for you
No matter what kind of reading challenge you’re planning for, having a way to track your progress can help you to feel accomplished and hold you accountable.
If your challenge involves reading a certain number of books or following prompts, make sure you have an easy way of viewing all of the books on your to-read list. This way when the time comes to choose your next book, you can easily sort through to find what you’re looking for.
To track your progress throughout the year, Goodreads and Storygraph are useful for readers who set a numeric goal, while a personalized spreadsheet might be a better fit for readers who want to focus on specifics like reading more of certain genres. Creative readers might gravitate towards a bullet journal instead, which is also a great place to track reading habits.
NetGalley’s Weekly Checklist email is a great tool for staying up-to-date on which books are ready for your Feedback. Test drive your tracking method with your December TBR list so that you’re ready to go on January 1st.
Make time for reading
It’s easy to set a goal, but following through can be tricky. Consider your day-to-day schedule and block out specific times for reading on your calendar, or set small daily goals to read a specific number of pages. Remember that audiobooks are a multitasker’s best friend and can easily be listened to while cooking, cleaning, or exercising. We have extra tips on reading more here!
Connect with bookish friends
Having bookish BFFs is a great way to keep you reading all year long. Together you can start a book club (even a virtual one!), buddy read books together, host virtual or in-person silent reading parties, or simply swap book recommendations.
Connect with your friends to share your 2023 reading goals and ask what their goals are so you can keep each other on track all year long! Need help meeting like-minded bookish folks? Check out reader forums like the one on our giveaway platform BookishFirst!
Join a readathon
Readathons happen multiple times throughout the year and are hosted by book bloggers, Booktubers, and Bookstagrammers. Joining the fun can be a great way to get in some reading and to make some friends. Here are our tips on how to successfully participate!
Check-in and reevaluate throughout the year
Don’t be afraid to scale up or down accordingly if you realize your original plan isn’t a good fit. Novellas and graphic novels are always great options for fast and enjoyable reads that can help you get back on track if you’ve fallen behind. Set reminders for yourself as often as you need them to check-in and reevaluate your challenge, and you can follow NetGalley on social media for weekly tips on managing your shelf, review writing, and more. Remember the biggest goal of the challenge is to have fun!