I’d stopped reading. I loved it, but I’d stopped. Somewhere between 2010 and 2015 I became a lapsed reader. And I was most definitely a lapsed reader by 2017. Which is why I took up the JCU Library Reading Challenge in 2018.
And it’s thanks to that reading challenge I got reading again. I didn’t get close to 52 books in the year, I didn’t even make half of that, but I started again and that’s the important part.
Even better, it expanded my reading horizons.
Previously, I spent a lot of time with my nose in fantasy. Maybe a bit of historical fiction. But mostly a lot of fantasy. Why not? I liked it. I still like it. But I didn’t read much outside of my comfort zone. And I realise now how much that meant I was missing.
It makes my “to-read” list significantly longer, but mixing it up has been a joy.
I went head-first into their challenge in 2019, even writing some book reviews (yes, that’s how my short book reviews started), and that came with joining a book club! (Probably more on that in the future.)
But none of it would have happened without a challenge that encouraged me to read beyond my usual comfort zone and explore new genres.
I’ve heard people (ok, columnists) say that reading challenges take the fun out of reading and turn it into a competition, a numbers game.
If you’re worried about that, don’t do those challenges. Or, don’t do them in that way.
Reading isn’t a numbers game unless you make it a numbers game (unless you’re a kid doing the MS Readathon, in which case, smash out those books!). Step back, ask yourself why, re-acquaint yourself with what you want to achieve and, if necessary, find a challenge that challenges you, not one that turns you into a book-eating monster.
Don’t confuse a challenge with a competition.