Challenge Yourself 2019: Reading Challenges to Engage Your Bookish Year

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Photo by Lysander Yuen on Unsplash

Photo by Lysander Yuen on Unsplash

You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read.
— James Baldwin

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Reading Challenges For the New Year

Many people start their New Year resolutions with a reading challenge. The month of January is almost to a close, so maybe you have already started diving into your to-be-read shelves (both physical and digital). But if you haven’t, or didn’t know this was a thing to do, you have plenty of time to decide.

A reading challenge is an open-ended list of books based on specific topics or themes. If you’ve been following me for a while, you know I try and mention a wide range of books to read. Somewhere mid-year I find that my to-read list and my currently-reading list is one jumbled mess and I hardly ever finish any the challenges I set out to do. But that’s probably because I choose to do so many!

This year is no exception. Check out the list below for some of my favorite reading challenges.


Goodreads 2019 Reading Challenge

Goodreads is always my favorite and most often used reading challenge. It’s completely open-ended, asking only that you chose a set number of books to complete during the year. You can read as many or as few as you want since the only person you are challenging is yourself. If you beat your goal last year, I suggest raising your 2019 goal by a few more books.

My 2018 challenge was 100 books and I beat that by 6! If you thought that goal was bonkers, then prepare yourself. I’ve set my 2019 goal to 250 books. Many of the books I read are picture books since my children are still young. I wanted to take that into account so I’m making sure at least 50 of these books are over 200 pages. I’m behind that goal right now but don’t count me out just yet.


Book Riot Read Harder Challenge

Book Riot is a book focused website that does more than just review books. It’s a bookish look into many topics around reading and run by a diverse group of women. More recently they have expanded to include book clubs, podcasts, and videos of all kinds. Full disclosure: I’ve written for them in the past, but my love of their brand is what lead to that, not the other way around.

The Read Harder challenge is exactly that- hard. It’s set to challenge your thinking on what reading is really for and it’s consistent in showcasing more than just white male authors. In its fifth year, there are 24 topics to challenge your reading year and diversify your shelves. I’ve never completed a BR challenge but this might just be my year. Here are some of their tasks with my suggestions attached:

Use the link above to score your PDF copy. A photo of a completed challenge gets you 30% their online store at the end of the year.


2019 PopSugar Reading Challenge

PopSugar is a popular site better known for its fashion and fitness tips than its book recommendations. I got to know their content years ago when I was looking to drop a few pounds. Their site has grown considerably to include parenting and family, culture, and food.

Also in its fifth year, the PopSugar Reading Challenge is not for a casual reader. Their challenge has 40 prompts AND an extra 10 if you want to go the advanced route. Some of their options ( and my suggestions) include:

You’ll also find a PDF version in the link.


Make Your Own Challenge

Photo by  iam Se7en  on  Unsplash

Photo by iam Se7en on Unsplash

Sometimes, the best challenge is the one you make for yourself. This is how Black & Bookish was created- the completing of one single challenge. Creating your own list of must reads for the year is an exciting task- especially when you’ve marked off all your titles. And it can change your life in ways you never thought possible.

Here are some ideas to get you started if you’re looking to make your reading goals more personal:

Make your 2019 reading an adventure, not just a challenge. Choose something that will bring you closer to books and ultimately, yourself.

Now go forth and READ!



Want an even more comprehensive look at what I'm reading? 

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Which reading challenge did you choose? I would love to hear your 2019 reading goals!

About the Author

Black & Bookish is the brainchild of Antoinette Scully, educator and lover of all things bookish. She is on a quest to fill your bookshelves with beloved authors of the African Diaspora. When she's not hanging out online, she's living it up as the mother of two rambunctious girls and wife of a local filmmaker.