Saturday, January 7, 2012

Reading Challenge 2011

In 2011, I participated and completed a challenge on GoodReads to read 104 books before Dec 31. That equates to 2 books per week and can be any genre and any format.

I'm a avid reader and yet the thought of reading this many books in one year was a little daunting, and so the challenge seemed like an interesting and yet challenging task.

I finished the challenge on Dec 30; I was worried I wouldn't finish. But, I did finish with what seemed like seconds to spare. All of the books I read were actual novels, and a few of them were kid novels that I read to Bugs.

I'm memoralizing this experiece on my blog because it was much harder than I thought it was going to be. And not a little stressful. I even got to the point at times when I resented my challenge because many of my "free" moments had to be dedicated to reading in order to keep the consistency of appx 2 books/week. At times I got ahead, and then other times I got behid. A few times I read incredibly long books and had to make up for it by finding novels that were shorter.

I learned a few things about myself during this experience that I felt important to document.

1. I'm shallow. I read and only truly enjoy foo-foo novels that entertain and help me escape. If they are too thought-provoking, realistic, or slow my interest waned and the GoodReads rating was poor.

2. I evetually figured out that I do enjoy some non-fiction. I read a few books about WWI, the legal system, etc. and found that I felt better about myself after the book was finished, as if I had accomplished something instead of escaped to Never-neverland.

3. I like to read but it's not the only thing I enjoy. Many other interests were side-lined this year, forsaken for a book. This really go to wear on me. So before this challenge I thought that I would always opt for a book over most other things. Now, I know that while reading still ranks high, it does not always surpass all other activities. I do like to still particpate in my life.

4. I don't need a challenge in order to read. And I don't want one. I read enough to meet any reasonable challenge and anything more than that is simply not healthy. My poor family!

Thanks to GoodReads, 75% of the books I read were sheer winners. I found myself rating book after book 4 and above. This is because of the awesomeness of GoodReads and one's ability to ascertain easily whether a book is going to be a good match for a reader. I have compiled a huge list of "to reads" that I know will meet this same percentage of success because I have amassed a group of "friends" (mainly people I don't know but that I DO know have my same interests in books) who I can peruse their booklist and compare our tastes and then stock my list with the ones that are a good fit for my style. If you find yourself slogging through lame book after book, you need to get on GoodReads. I am a broken record about this.

If you're interested in the list of books I read in 2011, and you aren't my friend on GoodReads, you can go to this link to see them all. Toward the end of the year I started listing my ranking. If you would like to create a GoodReads ( account and add me as a friend, my username is AmyNielsen. My books are tagged and one of the tag is 2011 booklist so you can also see all of the books there as well, except one is missing and I can't figure out which one. The latter method is preferred because then you have access to all of my ratings and I do an extensive review for each book.

Now that the challenge is over, I am still reading but have added a great deal of non-fiction to my reading list. I'm currently reading a book about the Civil War battlefields which is amazing. But I can now make better use of my Netflix account, do a little scrapbooking, cleaning, baking and a variety of other activities. It will be nice to round out my life a little bit. This past year was super fun with all the reading but balancing will be a great experience too. Onto the next...

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