Reading Challenge 2016

As mentioned in my last reading update, I wasn’t sure what, if anything, I was going to do about a reading challenge for 2016.

My 2015 reading challenge had 3.5 criteria:

  • (1) read 50 books
  • (2) read at least one book from the 2015 Canada Reads list
  • (3) complete two reading challenge lists
  • (3.5) read a few books that I already own (this last one doesn’t really count, as it wasn’t an official criteria, just a promise I made to myself)

I ended up quitting the reading lists in June because I got tired of them and kept finding books that I wanted to read but couldn’t match to the list. Essentially, it became too annoying and too restrictive for me.

While I want to challenge myself to branch out a bit, I don’t want to feel restricted by other people’s lists. So, this year, I’m keeping things fairly open:

  1. Read 50 books
  2. Read at least one of the Canada Reads contenders
  3. Read at least one of the books in the Scotiabank Giller prize shortlist

Here’s the deal:

1. Read 50 books.

I had considered increasing this number after my 2015 success (over 65 books), but then I remembered that I work best when reading for pleasure and not under pressure. I want to make myself read, but I don’t want to make it a chore. Also, 10 of the 65 were ones that I quit, so I don’t feel like they should count.  Two to three books per month seems to be a decent average for me. And, I am going to aim for finishing 50 books, not just picking up 50 books.

I will continue to count anything and everything as a book: graphic novels, kids books, audiobooks, etc. Books are books, regardless of their length or how they’re presented.

2. Read at least one of the Canada Reads contenders.

I think it’s pretty safe to say that I will almost always do this challenge, unless they decide to focus on sports or something equally uninteresting to me. But, then I’d just challenge myself to read a couple past contenders/winners.

This year, the theme is “starting over” and the long list looks really good. It includes a book that I’ve already read (Station Eleven), so, just in case it makes the shortlist, I’ll add that I have to pick a contender that I haven’t already read.

While I will only require myself to read one of the short list contenders, I want to pick up all of the 5 contenders. Now that I have finally given myself the freedom to admit to quitting books, I don’t mind adding the extra challenge as I won’t feel the pressure to finish each book. I did try to read all of the Canada Reads books in 2010, but after one really disappointing book and another that I just lost interest in, I was too much of a coward to try again the next year (at the time, I was still very self conscious about not finishing books).

3. Read at least one of the books in the Scotiabank Giller prize shortlist.

I actually want this to morph into reading a couple prize winners/contenders each year, but I need to do a bit of research into book prizes. I know that I loved the 2015 Giller prize winner (Fifteen Dogs) and one of the contenders (Daydreams of Angels), so this seemed like a good prize to use for 2016. Ideally, I’d like it to include at least one Canadian fiction prize and one Canadian poetry prize. I’ll have to do a bit of research to iron out the specifics for future years.


In addition to these three challenges, I also want to make some promises to myself:

  1. As mentioned above, I promise to try and read all of the Canada Reads contenders.
  2. I promise to read some of my to-be-read pile (books on my shelf and on my Kobo). I’d like to get my tbr pile down to something more manageable (a dozen or so books).
  3. I promise to allow myself to review and, if needed, weed my tbr pile at least once.
  4. I promise to continue to allow myself to quit books I’m not enjoying, but also to continue to be honest about what I quit and why.

Are you doing a reading challenge this year? I’d love to hear about it. It’s always interesting to see how different people approach reading challenges.



    • It can be hard finding the right parameters. The first year I did one, I tried to challenge myself too much. So, whatever you do (if you do one) make sure to give yourself the freedom to adjust as needed or quit.


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