Skip to content

Setting a 2015 Reading Challenge

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Since setting category goals worked so well for me in 2014, I decided to do it again in 2015. Only this time, I decided to go a completely different route.

My overall reading goal is 53 books—to one-up myself from 2014. Once again, I’m taking 25 of those spots and assigning specific category goals to attain.

2015 Reading Challenge Categories
Read a book (romance or non, fiction or non) set in each of the following time periods/locations:

1. Ancient (BCE)
2. Roman Empire (to approx. 300s)
3. England: Roman Era to ~1060ish
4. Europe ~400–1100
5. England ~1060ish–1099 (Norman Conquest)
6. 12th Century
7. 13th Century
8. 14th Century
9. 15th Century
10. 16th Century
11. 17th Century
12. 18th Century
13. 20th Century
14. 21st+ Century (contemporary or futuristic)
15. Australia
16. New Zealand
17. SE Asia/Subcontinent
18. Russia
19. South or Central America
20. Canada
21. Tennessee
22. New Mexico
23. Alaska
24. Louisiana
25. Virginia

Yes, I purposely skipped the 19th century—most of the “Other (Historical Romance)” novels I’ll read will be set during the first 20 or so years of that century, since it seems like that’s all that gets published in (general market) Historical Romance anymore.

I spent several hours this weekend researching these time periods and settings and making lists of 4–6 possible titles for each category, and I’m really excited to start digging in. I have already downloaded the audiobook for the 16th century category—the third book in C. W. Gortner’s Elizabeth I, Spymaster series (The Tudor Vendetta). I’m also trying to make sure that I’m not falling back on the same-old, same-old genre of historical romance for all of these categories—many of the titles in the earlier time periods are historical fiction, adventure, mystery, thriller, etc. I’m also not ruling out alternate histories, young adult, paranormal/fantasy, or other subgenres where they fit. And I’m sure there will be some nonfiction mixed in as well.


Setting Your Own Reading Challenges and Goals

There are tons of different ways you can approach setting up your own reading challenges and goals. If you aren’t on Goodreads as a place to keep track of what you’ve read (and what you want to read), I highly recommend it. You can set your goal for the number of books you want to read and then track them—and review them—easily there.

Or you can just keep track of them on your own in OneNote or Excel or in a journal or notebook. I recommend not only setting a numeric goal but setting at least 10–12 specific category/genre, or even specific book, goals. Last year, it would have been so easy for me to just stick to my familiar, comfortable historic romance—and then I probably would have burned out by the middle of the year. But because I knew I had certain genres I needed to read in order to meet my goal, it helped me branch out and read books/authors I otherwise never would have discovered.

I learned that setting up more general guidelines—categories rather than specific books—worked best for me. That way, when it came time to read, I didn’t feel like I was stuck doing an assigned reading for a class or something like that . . . I didn’t get to the point where I built up resentment toward a specific book because I “had” to read it. And even though I’ve gone through and found several titles for each of this year’s categories, there’s nothing holding me to reading one of those books specifically. Because Goodreads and Amazon both have these “people also enjoyed” lists that show similar titles—and I might find one of those more to my liking.

Here are some links to reading challenge lists and ideas that might help you get started in setting your goals for 2015:

PopSugar’s 2015 Reading Challenge
Belle of the Literati’s Re-Read Challenge 2015
Rant Chic’s 2015 Reading Challenge
Retreat by Random House’s Reading Bingo Challenge (from 2014, but still works)
KES Reading Challenge’s Bookopoly
Scholastic’s 100 New Year’s Reading Resolutions 2015
The Rory Gilmore Reading Challenge
Kindred’s 2015 Reading Challenge

Other Challenge Ideas—these are great for mini-challenges throughout the year:

  • Read only first/debut novels
  • Do an Alphabet Challenge—by title or by author, one book for each letter
  • Global challenge—read books set in countries you’ve visited (or that you want to visit)
  • Is the book or movie better? Read books that have been made into movies—and then watch the movie and compare/contrast.
  • The TBR Challenge—don’t buy any new books, don’t check any out from the library. Read only the books you already have on your TBR pile.
  • New-to-You Authors—only read books by authors you’ve never read before.
  • Finish the Series—have you started several book series but not finished them? Now’s the time!
  • Keyword Challenge—at the beginning of the year, pick a keyword for each month, then read a book with that keyword in the title (for example, snow for January, love or romance for February, storm for March, spring for April, etc.—remember, it’s a keyword, not a theme)

What’s your 2015 Reading Challenge?

  1. Dora Wagner permalink
    Tuesday, January 6, 2015 9:43 am

    I have signed up for three Goodreads Challenges.

    My full name (Dora Jo Wagner)–A title to match each letter

    Audiobook Challenge–25 audio books. This one should be no problem, as most of my reading is audio.

    Finish the Series–I plan to read 2 complete or complete 2 series of books–my first will be Narnia, as I have only read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

    I am also in a British Medieval History Book Club, through Facebook, so I will be reading many books in those periods. I can share the lists with you, if you would like. For the months of January and February, the club is reading A Needle in the Right Hand of God, which discusses the Bayeux Tapestry, The Norman Conquest, by Marc Morris, and The Handfasted Wife.


    • Tuesday, January 6, 2015 10:54 am

      I’ll be sure to look those books up—and I’m interested to hear your take on them.

      I spent a while last night going through the list of titles I’d already made (from Goodreads) looking to see which ones are available either at the public library as ebooks or through the Kindle Unlimited program (or low-cost downloads). Not a whole lot of them are—of course, a bunch of them are old, out-of-print books that are only available used through marketplace sellers.

      One of the titles I’d flagged for the set in New Zealand category was free on Amazon (it’s a contemporary romance), so I went ahead and downloaded that one. I started a 2015 Reading Challenge wishlist on Amazon and started wishlisting the books available at the library as well. It also gave me a chance to really look at and read some reviews instead of just going by titles/settings/descriptions as I did when I was making the list. I actually knocked several off the lists because of the low-star averages on both Goodreads and Amazon.


      • Dora Wagner permalink
        Tuesday, January 6, 2015 11:35 am

        Robin Jones Gunn–Sister Chicks Down Under is set in New Zealand and hysterical. I loved this series. I don’t think I can use it for my challenge, but I would like to re-read them, especially the one set in England, since I have been there and may actually be able to visualize things much more than the first time I read it.


      • Dora Wagner permalink
        Tuesday, January 6, 2015 11:36 am

        The Handfasted Wife was only about $3.00 or $4.00 for e-book. Should help.


  2. Sylvia M. permalink
    Tuesday, January 6, 2015 10:31 am

    My sisters have decided to do the Pop Sugar reading challenge. I am still debating about that one. There are about fifty books on my shelves that I haven’t read yet and I would like to read them this year. They don’t all fit into the Pop Sugar categories though.

    On the Pop Sugar challenge there’s a category for a book set in high school. Do you think that means most of the book takes place in the classroom/school grounds during the school year or just that a high schooler is the main character?


    • Tuesday, January 6, 2015 11:07 am

      I decided not to do it because there were a few things on it that I’m just not interested in (short stories, Pulitzer Prize–winning, based only on the cover, graphic novel, etc.).

      I think as far as the parameters/rules go for each of the categories, it’s whatever you want to make of it. I’d think that books like Harry Potter or (ugh) Twilight would fit the high school category (or one of my favorites from childhood, the Tobey Heydon series by Rosamond du Jardin, written/published in the 1940s). I’d say if it’s a book with a main character who’s a high school student (whether or not the book ever shows him/her at school), go for it.

      I may take some of these and make them into mini-challenges within my own challenge categories—for example, for my Louisiana-setting category, one of the titles I’ve already listed is the original play script of Steel Magnolias. A couple of the books I’ve listed for the earlier centuries on the list were written in French or German and translated. Same with the Russia-set books—translations. As far as books I own but haven’t yet read—that’s half my TBR list! And a majority of the books I’ll read this year will fit the “book by an author you’ve never read before.”

      The states I chose—TN, LA, AK, NM, and VA—are the states I’ve lived in.


Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: