2016 Reading Challenges

2015 was a really good reading year for me. I attempted the 50 Book Challenge for the first time and, though I failed it – reading only 35 books – it was the most I’d read in a long time, and I really enjoyed a lot of the books I read.

For 2016, I set a goal of 40 books to read and I picked two reading challenges to try out along the way to make it a little more fun: the Read Harder Reading Challenge from Book Riot and PopSugar’s Reading Challenge. I really liked attempting these two lists because 1. I like checking things off lists and 2. I was forced to read outside my comfort zone. I generally prefer fiction books – fantasy, YA, contemporary, made-up things, you get it – but I’d always wanted and intended to read outside this comfort zone. Occasionally, I did, but the reading challenges made sure that I did so more than once or twice a year. To be fair, a lot of the books I selected to meet the challenges are still fiction books, but I still read several I might otherwise not have even picked up.

So, here are the lists of challenges and the books I read to complete them. You’ll notice that I didn’t complete either list, but I’m still pretty proud of the progress I made on them. I’ll bold the books I really enjoyed and recommend and italicize books that I intended to read to meet that challenge, if I had one.

PopSugar’s 2016 Ultimate Reading Challenge

A book based on a fairy tale: The Sleeper and the Spindle – Neil Gaiman
A National Book Award winner
A YA bestseller: Fangirl – Rainbow Rowell
A book you haven’t read since high school: Fahrenheit 451 – Ray Bradbury
A book set in your home state: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe – Benjamin Alire Saenz (this was a lucky find; I found the audiobook because it was narrated by Lin-Manuel Miranda and I checked it out because I’d heard good things about it. It just happened to meet one of my reading challenges.)
A book translated to English: The Little Prince – Antoine de Saint-Exupery
A book set in Europe: How I Live Now – Meg Rosoff
A book that’s under 150 pages: Alberic the Wise and Other Journeys – Norton Juster
A New York Times bestseller: Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls – David Sedaris
A book that’s becoming a movie this year: The BFG – Roald Dahl
A book recommended by someone you just met
A self-improvement book: The Nerdist Way – Chris Hardwick
A book you can finish in a day: The Bad Beginning (Book One in A Series of Unfortunate Events) – Lemony Snicket
A book written by a celebrity: Not My Father’s Son – Alan Cumming
A political memoir
A book at least 100 years older than you: The Adventures of Tom Sawyer – Mark Twain
A book that’s more than 600 pages: The Once and Future King – T.H. White
A book from Oprah’s Book Club: The Good Earth – Pearl S. Buck
A science-fiction novel: The Ask and the Answer – Patrick Ness
A book recommended by a family member: Anne of Green Gables – L.M. Montgomery
A graphic novel: This One Summer – Mariko Tamaki, Jillian Tamaki
A book that is published in 2016: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child – J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne, John Tiffany
A book with a protagonist who has your occupation: Goodbye, Mr. Chips – James Hilton
A book that takes place during summer: The Summer I Turned Pretty – Jenny Han
A book and its prequel
A murder mystery: Murder on the Orient Express – Agatha Christie
A book written by a comedian: Sleepwalk with Me – Mike Birbiglia
A dystopian novel: Ready Player One – Ernest Cline
A book with a blue cover
A book of poetry: The Dirty Side of the Storm – Martha Serpas
The first book you see in a bookstore: The Stranger – Albert Camus
A classic from the 20th century: My Man Jeeves – P.G. Wodehouse
A book from the library: A Monster Calls – Patrick Ness
An autobiography: Yes, Please – Amy Poehler
A book about a road trip: Let’s Get Lost – Adi Alsaid
A book about a culture you’re unfamiliar with
A satirical book: Slaughterhouse-Five – Kurt Vonnegut
A book that takes place on an island: The Swiss Family Robinson – Johann Wyss
A book that’s guaranteed to bring you joy: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone – J.K. Rowling (the illustrated edition)

The 2016 Book Riot Read Harder Challenge

A horror book: Bird Box -Josh Malerman
A nonfiction book about science: A Brief History of the Universe – Stephen Hawking
A collection of essays: Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls – David Sedaris
Read a book out loud to someone else: What Pet Should I get? – Dr. Seuss (it doesn’t say how long the book has to be)
A middle grade novel: The Boy on the Porch – Sharon Creech
A biography (not memoir or autobiography):
A dystopian or post-apocalyptic novel: Ready Player One – Ernest Cline
A book originally published in the decade you were born: Perfume: The Story of a Murderer – Patrick Suskind
Listen to an audiobook that has won an Audie award: Not My Father’s Son – Alan Cumming
A book over 500 pages long: The Once and Future King – T.H. White
A book under 100 pages: The Sleeper and the Spindle – Neil Gaiman
A book by or about a person that identifies as transgender: George – Alex Gino
A book that is set in the Middle East:
A book that is by an author from Southeast Asia: What I Talk About When I Talk About Running – Haruki Murakami
A book of historical fiction set before 1900: The Scarlet Letter – Nathaniel Hawthorne
The first book in a series by a person of color: The Summer I Turned Pretty – Jenny Han
A non-superhero comic that debuted in the last three years: Nimona – Noelle Stevenson
Read a book that was adapted into a movie, then watch the movie. Debate which is better. Hector and the Search for Happiness – Francois Lelord (the book was better)
A nonfiction book about feminism or dealing with feminist themes: Bad Feminist – Roxane Gay
A book about religion (fiction or nonfiction): Surprised by Joy – C.S. Lewis
A book about politics, in your country or another (fiction or nonfiction): The Audacity of Hope – Barack Obama
A food memoir: Kitchen Confidential – Anthony Bourdain
A play: The Importance of Being Earnest – Oscar Wilde
A book with a main character that has a mental illness: Hyperbole and a Half – Allie Brosh (this is stretching it a bit; she talks about dealing with her depression, but it’s a book of comics based on her life)

A friend of mine found another one and challenged me to it, so I ended up also doing what turned out to be Modern Mrs. Darcy’s 2016 Reading Challenge. I mainly chose my books to fulfill the challenges from these first two lists and used those to fulfill this last one. I won’t list it here, but my favorite challenges from this last list were a book you previously abandoned (Let’s Get Lost) and a book you own but have never read (The Adventures of Tom Sawyer).

At the end of 2016, I had completed a total of 46 books. Obviously, the ones listed here were not all the books I read; I’ll do a separate post for those and my favorites of the year. My goal for this year is 42 books – a step up from last year, but still reasonable, I think. If you’ve set a reading goal for yourself for 2017, I highly recommend finding a reading challenge to go with it. Even if you don’t complete it (though it’d be awesome if you did), chances are, you’d probably pick up a book or two that you might have missed out on otherwise.


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