The 50 Book Challenge

Screen Shot 2013-12-09 at 12.43.56It is the second week of December and the end of the year is coming closer and closer. Am I stressed out about cooking a Christmas dinner or buying my last presents? No. The thing that preoccupies my mind at the end of every year is: how many books do I have to finish before the year is over?

Like thousands of other people, I’m participating in the 50 Book Challenge, where (as the title suggests) we challenge ourselves to read fifty books in a year. And how am I doing so far? … Let’s talk about that later.

When people hear that I take part in the challenge, they often send me questions about the ‘rules’. Does a play count as a book? Does a graphic novel count? Can I count re-reads? What about a short story that was published as a book? When it comes to thing like that, my only rule is: You’re doing this for yourself, so YOU get to decide the rules. I’ve had plenty of people tell me that I’m cheating, because I count books such as THE BOOKSHOP STRIKES BACK by Ann Patchett, which only has 20 pages. And to that I say: I sat down, read a story and really enjoyed it. That is the end goal, isn’t it? To read and enjoy it. I’m sure I’ll read a 500 page novel to balance it out at some point during the year.

I did my first 50 Book Challenge in 2009, after watching this video by Kristina Horner on the YouTube channel FiveAwesomeGirls, where she challenges the viewers to join her in reading 50 books in a year.

After digging through some old notebooks and blog entries, I found a list of my previous attempts:

2009: 42
2010: 35
2011: 50 (!!!)
2012: 40

As you can see, the only time I succeeded was in 2011, when I managed to read 20 books in December! (I had to dig out QUIDDITCH THROUGH THE AGES, FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM and some other thin books).

In 2011 the Reading Goal was introduced on GoodReads (with a friendly reminder of how many books you’re currently behind schedule). I love browsing through everyone’s challenges and I’ve seen lots of people who have no problem devouring 200 books in a single year, but that will definitely never be me.

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It might surprise you, but there are quite a few people who really don’t like the idea of a reading challenge. They say that it encourages people to read books too fast and not really absorb or enjoy any of it or that you shouldn’t care about the numbers.

To me, seeing the progress bar get closer and closer to my goal, sharing my challenge with others and knowing that I’m a couple of books behind (or ahead) gives me plenty of motivation to turn off my computer and grab a book. As you can see in the image above, I have 20 books left to read this month, but I’m not giving up! I’ve already asked some friends if they can bring me their favourite short books and I’ve got a pile of graphic novels waiting for me. And if I don’t reach my goal, I can start all over again on January 1st. Wish me luck!

Are any of you doing the 50 (or 100 or 200) book challenge this year? Are you close to reaching your goal?