Reflections on 2015 Energize Me into Creating My Own 2016 Reading Challenge

Reflections on 2015 Energize Me into Creating My Own 2016 Reading Challenge

2016 Reading Challenge at Compulsively Quirky

For most of 2015, I was behind in my reading. Thankfully, Winter Break finally started. Naturally, I had strategically decided to not read in book categories where I had identified a novel or novella that was under 200 pages. Phew!

Bottom line? I reached my goal of reading 50 books in 2015, but I didn’t find a book for each of the unique categories in my Reading Challenge. And the category “a book written by an author with your same initials” was tough for me. 


The closest match I could find was Ian M. Banks. Of course, I was doing my own research. If I had been closer to reading every category, I would have started asking librarians.

Out of the 13,202 pages I read, my favorite book, by far, was The Martian by Andy Weir. I knocked that puppy out in a weekend! Sure, I was motivated to read faster because the movie was opening soon. But really…I had a man stranded on Mars!

Overall, I found that participating in the Reading Challenge helped me diversify my genres. I know that I never would have read Heart of Darkness otherwise. In the classics genre, there were a few books that I’m glad I finally took the time to read: The Great Gatsby, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, A Study in Scarlet, and A Christmas Carol

I didn’t absolutely love The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, but reading about a cultural perspective so different from mine was enriching.

I was rather shocked when I tallied up a few data points.

Genre Comparison


Yikes! I knew that I’d end up with more fiction than nonfiction. Until I started listening to audiobooks, I rarely picked up nonfiction. And this year, my nonfiction included just four audiobooks and eight print or ebooks. I consider that ratio a good sign that I’m becoming a better reader of nonfiction books. Creating a good habit.

But 30 male authors and just 18 female? 

I definitely need to pick up more books from female authors.

Format Preferences

I enjoyed this process thoroughly and decided to try it again. My caveat for 2016? I will create my own categories. I want to focus on diversifying who and what I read.

Since I've discovered a few nonfiction topics that interest me, I wanted to create a Reading Challenge that would allow me to keep exploring those ideas, but from different perspectives. And I wanted to incorporate room for more history and historical fiction possibilities since I'd like to improve my content knowledge as a social studies teacher.

So I’ve set my book total on Goodreads to 50 again. And here are my 50 categories:

  • A book recommended by a librarian
  • A nonfiction book about productivity
  • A book with magic
  • A book written under a pseudonym
  • A National Book Award winner
  • A book that has been on my TBR shelf for 2+ years
  • A book set in Africa
  • A memoir
  • A book written by an author I've met
  • A book written by a TED speaker
  • A book by an author born in the same year as me
  • A book with time travel
  • A book about books, bookstores, or publishing
  • A YA bestseller
  • A book with a protagonist over the age of 50
  • A book published this year
  • A book that has an animal in the title
  • A book I borrow from a friend
  • A biography
  • A book that involves either royalty or a dynasty
  • A book that creates an alternate history
  • A book inspired by Jane Austen
  • A book about writing
  • A classic
  • A book that supports a 2016 resolution
  • A Sword & Laser book club pick
  • A book set during Winter
  • A Man Booker Prize winner
  • The first book in a mystery series
  • The last book written before the author died/retired
  • A nonfiction book about the city or state where I live
  • A book from an author who attended the Tucson Festival of Books
  • A book involving a serial killer
  • A steampunk book
  • A book about geek culture
  • A political memoir
  • A book with a protagonist who has my occupation
  • A book from Oprah's Book Club
  • A graphic novel
  • A book written by a person of color
  • A book that everyone has read, but me
  • A book about a subject that challenges me
  • A book for my professional development
  • A book with six or more words in the title
  • A dystopian book
  • A book set in any city where I've lived
  • A book recommended to me by my sister
  • A book recommended to me by my brother
  • Any book on my TBR pile
  • Any book that I know I will love

My brother has already sent me a list of book recommendations. I think I'll be trying Secrets and Lies: Digital Security in a Networked World by Bruce Schneider. And I've started listing off my other possibilities in Evernote. Love those checklists!

Do you have any reading goals for 2016? Please share in the comments.

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