So this month I will finish up my 2014 reading challenge, A Year in Reading Suggestions. I've loved doing it so much that I am doing not one, but three, reading challenges this year. (More like two and a half). One is of my own making and will make its appearance shortly.
But first: why I loved a reading challenge. My TBR list is literally thousands of books long. So when it's time to choose a new book, I'm often overwhelmed by too many choices. Before last year, I handled this dilemma by reading one book from each bookshelf in my house, in order, so whenever it was time to pick a new book, I didn't have to consider the whole collection.
A reading challenge narrows my focus in a similar way, but it actually has more flexibility than the "one bookshelf only" method, since my bookshelves are organized by genre. So sometimes I'd be at the fantasy bookshelf but not really be in the mood for fantasy, which just leads to me choosing something short.
As I was doing this year's challenge, it would bum me out whenever I would see a certain book on my shelf and realize it didn't fit ANY of the upcoming themes. So I decided that next year I would make my OWN reading challenge, tailored to my TBR pile, so that any book could, at some point, find its way into the year.
I'm posting it here in case it's in line with others' reading piles or interests as well.
January - Gifted Books
I LOVE getting books as gifts -- the problem is, I have so many books that those books I wanted so badly end up sitting on my shelves unread for years. This is my month to finally get to some of those wonderful gifted books that have been languishing for far too long -- or perhaps get a head start on any gifts I may have received for Christmas!
February - Love & Marriage
I collected SO many books about marriage when I was engaged and am really dying to get through some of them. Not only that, but love is a pervasive theme in books of all genres, so I'm sure to find something even if I get bored of the marriage memoirs. Because of Valentine's Day, I'm limiting this to books that deal with "romantic" love, but others could interpret the theme more broadly.
March - Finding My Religion
I have a whole bookshelf dedicated to religious tomes, mostly to do with Catholicism but some general Christianity and non-Christian texts as well. I also have a lot of fiction with religious themes. I used to make it my habit to read religious-themed books during Lent every year. Time to get back in that habit!
April - New Books
Due to my membership on two book-swapping sites, I have a couple new books arriving in my mailbox every month. Like the gifted books, these often languish for years waiting for their turn to be read. In April, I'm reading books in the reverse order of when I received them -- that is, reading the books I've acquired most recently first, and working backwards from there.
May - My Current Obsession
I often acquire mounds of books on a particular topic that is my current obsession (see Feb.). But then I space out reading those books because I don't want to look like I'm "stuck in a rut." Well, this is my month to enjoy that rut. I'm going to indulge in as much reading material related to my obsession-of-the-moment as I like.
June - Take Me Away (Fantasy, Sci-fi, Travel)
Books have long been lauded for their ability to take us through time and space. In June, while others might be taking the types of vacations that require money and tickets, I'm going to visit far-off lands without leaving my couch.
July - Blast from the Past (Old Obsessions)
See May. This habit of acquiring mounds of books related to a particular obsession means that I have a bunch of mini collections representing different phases of my life. This is the month to dust some of those books off and remember what caught my interest about the topic in the first place.
August - Local Flavor
This is my month to read books that take place in, are about, or are written by authors who are from places I've lived in the past, or that I currently live now.
September - Series Catch-up
I'm never the type to read straight through a series; in fact, I like to give myself "breaks" between books in the same series. This has led to me starting tons of series that are hanging their unfinished, everything from memoir collections to YA to epic fantasy. This month, I'm going to forge ahead in many of those series I started but never finished.
October - Fear Not the Fat Book
I love to read, but I admit it: fat books intimidate me. I was thrilled to find The Tale of the Genji at a used booksale years ago, but I still haven't read it. I've had Jennifer Roberson's Lady of the Forest since I was in high school, the spine uncracked. I've passed over Gone with the Wind many a time as I select my next read. This month, I will conquer that fear and read me a fat book!
November - Swapping Sites!
So many of the books that tempt me from my shelves each day came from Paperbackswap or Bookmooch, and this is my month to read exclusively from these collections, which is sure to bring with it plenty of variety.
December - Get Thee To a Library!
I've been a good girl all year and read down my massive collection of books. This month, all my reading choices will come from someone else's shelves!
But that's not all. I also plan to do the 2015 challenge from Into the Forest, the fairy tales Goodreads group that I belong to:
1.One YA Fairy Tale Retelling from the Endicott list
2.One Adult Fairy Tale Retelling from the Endicott list
3. One Mythic Fiction from the Endicott list
4. A book or collection,Fiction or non-fiction, featuring legendary/mythological monsters or creatures.
5. A novel or collection by one of your favorite authors that you have not read yet.
6. A novel or collection based on a theme you aren't familiar with or haven't read in the last 5 years. Themes could be anything, really. Enchanted forests, snow maidens, the Evil Queen, coming of age, and so on.
7.A poem, short story, novella or novel that inspired one of your favorite movies, TV shows, mini-series, or play.
8. A retelling of one of your favourite originals.
9. A collection of or novel based on or containing the legends and folklore of North America's native tribes.
10. A critical study or history of fairy tales
11. A fairy tale collection from a country you've never read a collection from before.
12. A book from the "villains'" POV
And just for the heck of it, I'm going to see how many books I can "happen" to check off this challenge list.
I expect 2015 to be a good year for reading!