I start off each year with one major goal: read 52 books by December 31st. Once upon a time, I would have blown past that goal by Easter. Ever since I became a mom (13 years ago!) and started working full-time, though, I’ve fallen short most years. Often, it has less to do with lack of time and more to do with lack of direction. I stare at my TBR pile and just have no idea where to start or what I’m in the mood to read.
This year, to make things easier, I’m giving myself weekly reading challenges! I’m making them specific enough to help me choose a book, but vague enough to not feel like it’s “required reading.” Check them out!
Reading Challenges for 2019
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- You can interpret the challenge however you like
- You can shuffle the weeks however you like
- There are no rules! Seriously, just use this list to inspire you to read more.
I’m giving you my pick for the challenge (although it may change as the year goes on). Obviously, you don’t HAVE to read my pick, it’s just there for inspiration…and as a reminder to myself of the books that I want to read (or re-read).
Download a one-page printable checklist here, or a larger-print checklist here.
Week 1: Read a book by or about someone who changed the world!
The new year is all about change and new beginnings, right? This week, choose a book written by or about someone who made a major impact on the world.
It can be a biography/autobiography, or an outstanding fiction book that changed the way we see things.
My pick: Steve Jobs: The Man Who Thought Different.
Week 2: Read a book that takes place in a different world
Since J.R.R. Tolkien Day is in January (3rd, I know not week two, but just go with it), challenge yourself to read a book that takes place in a totally different world.
The obvious choice would be The Hobbit or Lord of the Rings, but if you’re not into that, anything goes here. It could take place in outer space, a dystopian world, or a fantasy world.
My pick: Of Blood and Bone by Nora Roberts (takes place in a post-apocalyptic type world with magic), I read the first book last year.
Week 3: Read your favorite book from childhood
Unless your favorite book was War & Peace, this is a great challenge to do on a busy week. Children’s books are relatively short, after all!
My pick: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland!
Week 4: Read a book about a different religion or belief system
I love learning about other religions and belief systems! It’s a great way to gain a better understanding of the world around us and of people who think differently than me.
My pick: Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman
Week 5: Read a book that takes place in another country
Too broke to take a real vacation? I know the feeling! Take a literary trip instead! Read a book that takes place in another country!
Need some inspiration? Check out my Around the World in 80 Books post for tons of ideas!
My pick: The Bonesetter’s Daughter by Amy Tan
Week 6: Read a book that makes you feel good about yourself
Since February is International Boost Self-Esteem Month, choose a book that makes you feel really good about who you are.
It can be a self-help book, an inspirational biography, or a fictional story that just gives you a warm, positive feeling about yourself.
My pick: The Science of Introverts by Peter Hollins
Week 7: Read a love story
It doesn’t have to be in the romance genre, it doesn’t have to be sappy. It doesn’t even have to be a story about humans in love! It could be a story about someone who really loved their dog!
My pick: Night and Silence (October Daye Book 12) by Seanan McGuire (NOT a romance by a long shot, but there is an epic love story in it)
Week 8: Read a book borrowed from the library
Libraries are so important, and the more they’re used, the more funding they get. You can pick any book genre for this challenge, but it MUST be from your local library.
It can be a digital loan if you prefer to read on your Kindle. My local library partners with Overdrive to lend ebooks.
My pick: Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin (I’m not sure if I’m going to like it, so I’ll borrow the first one to find out).
Week 9: Read a book by an inspirational woman
There are so many inspirational women out there to learn from! Choose your favorite and read a book by (or about) them!
I find J.K. Rowling incredibly inspiring, so I’ll be choosing a book written by her.
My pick: Very Good Lives: The Fringe Benefits of Failure and the Importance of Imagination by J.K. Rowling
Week 10: Read a book by an inspirational man
I don’t want to leave the guys off this list. They’ve done some incredibly inspirational things throughout the years, too.
As a writer (and aspiring novelist), I personally find Stephen King to be inspirational. I’ll be honest, I can’t get into half of his books. However, I have enormous respect for the man (and the type of man) that he is!
My pick: On Writing by Stephen King.
Week 11: Read a book recommended by your kid
This is a great way to bond with your child and get a better idea of their interests. If you don’t have kids, ask your nieces, nephews, or your friends’ kids to recommend one.
My pick: Smile by Raina Telgemeier. My son has read it like 5 times and highly recommends it.
Week 12: Read a comic book, graphic novel, or webtoon
Comic books and graphic novels are just as important to our culture as “regular” books. Webtoons are basically comics, except solely on the web.
My pick: Unordinary by uru-chan. Another recommendation from my son. Thursday is now his favorite day because that’s the day she releases new chapters.
Week 13: Read a “how-to” book
If you’ve always wanted to learn how to do something, this is the week to do it!
I have so many things on my “to learn” list, but photography has been up there for ages, so that’s what I’m going with.
My pick: How to Create Stunning Digital Photography by Tony Northrup and Chelsea Northrup
Week 14: Read a book of trivia
I love reading trivia books, especially in the bathroom! (TMI?) Pick a book of trivia on your favorite subject, or just a general trivia book.
My pick: Now I Know: The Revealing Stories Behind the World’s Most Interesting Facts by Dan Lewis
Week 15: Read a book with a cover in your favorite color
The easiest way to find books that fit this challenge: go to GoodReads Shelves and type in “____ covers,” filling in the blank with your favorite color.
For example, my favorite color is purple, so I went to this shelf.
My pick: Rose Daughter by Robin McKinley (the hardcover version is mostly purple, but I’ll read the Kindle version)
Week 16: Read a book that celebrates diversity
“Diversity” is open to many interpretations! This week, read a book featuring characters that are different than you in some way, be it through the color of their skin, their nationality, their religion, etc. You may just learn that while you look different on the outside, you’re quite similar on the inside!
While we still need more diversity in books, I’m happy to see that we’ve come a long way in just the last year or so alone. Rick Riordan is one of my favorite authors for promoting diversity. He does it through his own imprint. My pick below is a Rick Riordan Presents book.
My pick: The Storm Runner by J.C. Cervantes (it’s a re-read, I’m waiting for book 2 to come out in September)
Week 17: Read a book written by a self-published author
If you’re only reading books put out by big publishers, you’re missing out! Self-publishing has opened up a whole new world of fantastic opportunities to discover talented writers. Big publishers only print X amount of books a year. Plus, there are only a handful of people deciding what gets printed and what doesn’t. Think of all the amazing writers that we missed out on over the last few centuries just because one person didn’t like their book. J.K. Rowling was rejected a dozen times before Bloomsbury recognized her talent.
My pick: Twilight’s Spell (Vampire Magic Book 1) by Sela Croft
Week 18: Read a book published in the year that you were born
Just go to Bing or Google (I use Bing because I rack up points to get Xbox gift cards for Jake) and type in “books published in ____.” Fill in the blank with your birth year.
My pick: Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbit
Week 19: A book by someone in the “Customers Also Bought” list on Amazon for one of your favorite authors
For this one, find a book that you love and click on the author’s name to go to their page. On the left-hand side, below their picture and short bio, you’ll see a list that says “Customers Also Bought.”
Choose one of these authors, click their name, and pick one of their books!
My pick: Dragonwatch by Brandon Mull, which I found by going to Rick Riordan’s author page.
Week 20: Read a classic that you struggled with in school
Give it another chance and see if you like it now that it’s not “required reading!” Need help finding one? Check out this list on GoodReads.
My pick: The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer. I had to read it in high school and in college, but still never managed to get through it.
Week 21: Re-read a favorite!
Don’t fall into the trap of believing that you have to read only new-to-you books to have it count towards your goal. Go ahead and re-read a favorite! It totally counts towards your goal.
My pick: the entire Harry Potter series by JK Rowling. I read it about once a year! FYI, they are included in Kindle Unlimited and Amazon FreeTime Unlimited.
Week 22: Read a book with a stunning cover
This week, it’s okay to judge a book by its cover! Browse through Amazon or GoodReads Shelves and find a cover that just speaks to you.
My pick: A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray
Week 23: Read a book set in the past
It can be historical fiction or a non-fiction book set in the distant or recent past!
My pick: Children to a Degree by Horst Christian (it’s based on a true story about growing up in Germany during WWII)
Week 24: Read a book of poetry
I’ll be honest, I’m not really into poetry for the most part. There are a couple poets that I like, but for the most part it just doesn’t hold my attention. I’m choosing one of the few poetry books that I actually liked as a teenager.
My pick: Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Siverstein
Week 25: Read a book in a genre that you usually avoid
Last year around this time, I discovered that I actually really like “high fantasy.” You know, the kind that takes place in a whole fantasy world? Up until then, I only really liked urban fantasy. I never would have discovered this if I didn’t step outside my genre comfort zone. This year, I’ll try historical fiction.
My pick: The Last Kingdom by Bernard Cornwell
Week 26: Read a short story (or collection of short stories)
You can interpret short story however you want. It could be a few pages long or an entire novella! To me, a short story is anything under 200 pages. 😀 I’m going to try an anthology, though.
My pick. Trigger Warning by Neil Gaiman
Week 27: Read a book that takes place on a beach
This list is a good place to start searching for the perfect literal “beach read!”
My pick: Barefoot by Elin Hilderbrand
Week 28: Read a fanzine!
These were all the rage when I was a punk rock teenager and young adult. I’m still a punk rock girl, but I admit that I haven’t read a zine in ages. Zine creators were the original indie publishers!
Not sure where to find one? Check out this list of places to find fanzines.
Week 29: Read a book that starts with the first letter of your first name
Use this Listopia to find one. It’s the list for #,A or B, but it has links to the other lists on it.
My pick: Number the Stars by Lois Lowry
Week 30: Read a book that prominently features a cat or dog
While the book doesn’t have to be specifically about a cat or dog, it should feature them prominently!
My pick: Marley & Me by John Grogan. Cue the waterworks!
Week 31: Read an adventure book
There’s a holiday in August that celebrates American adventures. I thought that was a little too limiting, though, so you can choose any adventure book. It can even be a Choose Your Own Adventure Book! Yep, they still make those!
My pick: The Seventh Plague by James Rollins. I read the first 10, then kind of got behind. I need to get caught up.
Week 32: Read a humorous book or a book of jokes
Everyone needs a good laugh once in a while, right? Get yours from this week’s challenge!
My pick: Adulthood is a Myth by Sarah Anderson
Week 33: Read a book that celebrates friendship
Mark Twain said, “Good friends, good books, and a sleepy conscience: this is the ideal life.” This week’s challenge takes care of the friends and the book. The sleepy conscious is up to you!
My pick: The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer
Week 34: Read a book written by someone under age 18
Support a budding young author with this week’s challenge. This GoodReads list or this Wikipedia list is a good place to start. Did you know that Hinton was a teen when he wrote The Outsiders?
My pick: Eragon by Christopher Paolini
Week 35: Read a free book on Amazon’s Top 100 Free Chart
Check out the Top 100 Free Chart on Amazon and take a chance on a new author! You have nothing to lose!
The chart changes daily, but my pick for now: Chosen by Denise Grover Swank
Week 36: Read a book that helps you advance your career
Whether you’re a blogger, a teacher, or a race car driver, there’s a book out there that will help you learn something new and advance your career!
For 2019, I’m thinking about opening some sort of store with gift ideas for book lovers. It’s just a random idea at this point.
My pick: Shopify Store Profits by Nathan Berry
Week 37: Read a book that invokes a deep emotion
It could be a book that makes you cry, one that makes you angry, or one that just makes you feel an incredible sense of bliss. The only rule: it must invoke that emotion on a deep level, not just have a few moments that make you think “oh, how sad” or “oh, how sweet.”
My pick: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green (I haven’t read it yet)
Week 38: Read a banned book
Banned Books Week is September 23-29. Celebrate your freedom to read by choosing a commonly banned book.
My pick: The Hunger Games (re-reading it). If you want to know why & where it was banned, check out this article.
Week 39: Read a book that was made into a movie
99% of the time, the book is better than the movie. It can be a book that is being made into a movie this year, or one that already exists in theatrical form.
My Pick: A Dog’s Way Home by W. Bruce Cameron
Week 40: Read a book recommended by a random stranger!
For this one, if you’re not comfortable walking up to a stranger and saying, “hey, what book should I read next?” go ahead and get a recommendation from your favorite book blogger.
Here, I’ll give you one!
My pick: Rosemary and Rue by Seanan McGuire (it’s the first book in the outstanding October Daye series).
Week 41: Read a book that helps you save money
October is Financial Planning Month, so read something that helps you learn how to better manage your money!
My pick: Little House Living by
Week 42: Read a book about an artist that inspires you
Any art form goes, here. Choose a book about your favorite painter, architect, photographer, musician, or any other creative field!
My pick: Lust for Life by Irving Stone (it’s about Van Gogh)
Week 43: Read an otherworldly book
This week, read a book about something otherworldly! It could be a ghost story, a book about aliens, or even something about the afterlife. You interpret “otherworldly” however you like.
My pick: Shadowland (The Mediator #1) by Meg Cabot
Week 44: Read a book that scares you
Where last week’s book could have focused on a happy-go-lucky otherworld experience, this week it’s time to read something that scares you!
Now, again, this is open to your interpretation. It could be an actual horror book, or it could be a book in which one of your worst fears feature prominently.
My pick: Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn
Week 45: Read a book about your favorite hobby (or one that inspires you to start a new hobby)
Always wanted to start a Pop Funko collection? Learn photography? Finally figure out how to knit? This is the week to learn about it!
My Pick: The Harry Potter Collector’s Handbook by William Silvester
Week 46: Read a book set in fall, or with the word “fall” in it
Check this list or this one for ideas.
My pick: Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes and Michelle Rowen
Week 47: Read a book written by someone in your hometown
For this one, your best bet is to ask your librarian for a few good ideas.
My pick below was written by a 13-year-old boy living in my home town, and it looks utterly heart-wrenching. Here’s an article about it, if you’re curious. The boy is my son’s age, so they would have been in middle school at the same time. Jacob knows of him, but doesn’t know him personally.
My pick: Unwanted by Knox Tolbert.
Week 48: Read the book that’s been sitting on your bookshelf the longest
It could be your actual bookshelf, your Kindle shelves, or just a book that you’ve wanted to read for years but never quite got around to.
My pick: The Maze of Bones (The 39 Clues, #1) by Rick Riordan (been on my Want to Read list since 2011!)
Week 49: Read a book about something that makes you thankful
For Thanksgiving week, read something that either makes you thankful for what you have, or a book that reminds you of why you’re thankful.
For me, I struggled with infertility for 6 years before getting pregnant with my son. I would read a book about someone else that struggled to remind me of how lucky I am now.
My Pick: Inconceivable: A Woman’s Triumph over Despair and Statistics, by Julia Indichova
Week 50: Read a book set in winter
Forget “beach reads,” I’ll take “snowy winter night reads” any day!
My pick: Snowflakes and Coffee Cakes by Joanne DeMaio
Week 51: Read a holiday book
Choose your favorite winter holiday for this book!
My pick:Skipping Christmas by John Grisham (the book was better than the movie, although I do kind of like the flick!)
Week 52: Read a book with a happy ending!
SO many to choose from here! Just search “books with happy endings” on Bing or Google and pick a list that speaks to you, then choose a book from that list!
My pick: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling (which means I’ll just have to read the whole series again! Yay!)
Remember, you don’t have to do this 52-week reading challenge in the order above. Shuffle it however you like, interpret however you want! There are no rules! Just read and enjoy!
I love to read! What a fun challenge to complete!