guest post: 2019 reading challenges

Hi everyone! I am very excited to have Jackie from Death by Tsundoku on my blog today! She’s going to be talking about reading challenges (something that I am notoriously bad at…) Take it away, Jackie!

My blog is called Death by Tsundoku. For those who don’t know, tsundoku is a transliteration of a Japanese word which is defined as:

The act of leaving a book unread after buying it, typically piled up together with such other unread books on shelves, floors, or nightstands.

My quest? To solve for tsundoku. I might or might not have literal tables in my house built out of stacked books I haven’t been reading – and I’m on a quest to finally read them all. One way I strive to put a dent in this overwhelming task without making it feel like a chore is by participating in Reading Challenges.

Reading challenges come in all sorts of different shapes and sizes. Some are time-boxed, some are themed. Some are long, some are short. Some let you pick what books you are reading, others don’t. No matter the reading challenge, I find they keep reading fun, refreshing, and easily accessible. Participation means you’re making a commitment to yourself to keep reading for pleasure an active part of your daily life.

You can find dozens of reading challenges online, but I want to share a few of my favorites with you:

I also like to participate through Goodreads. Obviously, you can participate in your own Goodreads 2019 Reading Challenge by identifying how many books you’d like to read over the course of the year. But there are endless varieties of other challenges waiting for you within Goodreads Groups! While there are tons of groups you can find leading reading challenges, my personal favorite is the [Insert Year Here] Reading Challenge group. They have multiple yearly and monthly challenges going at any one point to help inspire your reading. Plus, now there is a community to inspire you and keep you dedicated!

For me, the most important thing about reading challenges is staying engaged. I need to have a system to keep track of everything, or I won’t be able to commit. Thankfully, most challenges provide you with Infographics or Checklists. Goodreads is another great way to track your reading, by using Shelf tags for different challenges. Personally, I like to keep track of my reading challenge participation (and goals!) in my month-in-review blog posts.

No matter how you participate, or keep track of your reading challenge participation, I strongly encourage you to find some sort of community to connect with. A challenge-focused community will provide you recommendations and keep you inspired to continue following your reading challenge. They can be bloggers, Goodreads or Litsy participants, or just your bestie. Connect and challenge yourself to be a more committed reader. I promise it will improve your reading experience overall!

While I only mentioned a few 2019 reading challenges in this post, I encourage you to find the ones which suit you best. Check out any of these 2019 Reading Challenge Master Lists to find your next favorite challenges!

While these are direct links to 2019 challenges, all three of these locations provide updated in future years. If you are interested, bookmark them for perpetual use!

A HUGE thank you to Wendy for giving me the opportunity to share my love of reading challenges on What the Log! Solving for Tsundoku is a passion I want to spread far and wide; I know I couldn’t do it without amazing bloggers and friends like Wendy. Thank you!

What do you think?

  • Do you suffer from Tsundoku? Why or why not?
  • Have you participated in reading challenges in previous years? Which ones?  Which are your favorites?
  • What are your tips for participating in reading challenges?
  • Will you participate in any reading challenges this year? If so, which ones?


22 thoughts on “guest post: 2019 reading challenges

  1. christine @ lady gets lit says:

    Wendy, it was so much fun to be introduced to Jackie and her blog through this post!

    I’m on the fence when it comes to reading challenges. While I firmly believe in expanding my reading, I have a lot of trouble sticking to a specific set of rules. I usually do my own challenges in a given year. This year I’m trying to ACTUALLY FINALLY catch up on reading classics, so I have a goal of reading 20 books published before 1970 (including at least 10 before 1920 and 5 before 1895).

    The one challenge I am participating in is the Unread Shelf Challenge, hosted by Whitney @ theunreadshelf on Instagram. She has mini-challenges for each month, but the main goal is to just read as many books you already own as possible. For each mini-challenge, you select one book and you either read it or get rid of it by the end of the month. It’s very motivating!

    I will definitely have to check out some of the other challenges mentioned and see if there’s anything I can add. I do like the idea of focusing my reading around a specific goal. Plus I’m always looking for more bookish friends!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. whatthelog says:

      The reading challenges you’re doing are really awesome! What classics do you really want to get to?
      I’ll have to look into the Unread Shelf Challenge! Reading my owned books is going to be one of my main goals for next year, I think. (Or I might try and do a month this year of JUST reading my already owned books? Not sure.)
      You should! The only year-long challenge I’m doing is Year of the Asian – other than that I’m just participating in diverse readathons as and when they pop up 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. christine @ lady gets lit says:

        I have a BUNCH of classics I downloaded when I got my first kindle years ago. I actually haven’t read ANY Charles Dickens or George Eliot, so I definitely want to get to them before I start grad school. But then I also have a list of books from 1920-1970 that I want to read, just because I feel like lit classes so often focus on really old books rather than more modern classics.

        I like your idea of doing a month of reading only books you already own! I’m kind of doing that this month, focusing on reading ARCs or books I’ve already purchased. I spent waaaay too much money on books last month, so this challenge has been really good for me.


    2. Jackie B @ Death by Tsundoku says:

      I’m so glad to hear that you are participating in reading challenges this year, Christine! I’ve heard great things about the Unread Shelf Challenge – quite a few friends I know are participating in this challenge. It’s so admirable to actually read what we own. I’m consistently shocked at how few people manage to read their own books.

      Thanks for the kudos on the post. It was so much fun to write! I look forward to hearing how your challenges are going.


  2. Grab the Lapels says:

    I had to create my own reading challenge to get myself organized with my TBR pile. That’s why I do four books minimum: the oldest book I own, the newest book I own, a book from my read fat women challenge, and a random book. I will usually add in a book by a male author that I don’t review on the blog, but I do own lots of books by men, especially in my TBR (for a few years I ignored them in an effort to get more content on Grab the Lapels, and now there is a backlog).

    I always wondering what to say to folks who argue they are mood readers. A mood is highly capricious, and we don’t govern the rest of our daily lives on mood alone–or, at least most of us try not to! You may not be in the mood to go to work or to make dinner or to finish checking those last emails for work, but we push past our mood and get things done.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. whatthelog says:

      I really like your reading challenge! It’s a super great way of getting through backlist books, which is definitely something that I need to do.

      Ha, well, I have been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (a mood disorder) so that argument doesn’t really work in my case! Unfortunately my moods do govern a lot of my life. I battle with them so much to make myself do things like go to work that I just don’t find the energy to go against my mood with my hobbies, too.


      1. Grab the Lapels says:

        That definitely makes sense, and I can see how it would be really hard to keep fighting against something that is supposed to bring you joy and isn’t a necessity to keep the lights on.

        My personal reading challenge helps me feel happy. I would buy new books and want to read them, but them feel guilty about the books I owned that I hadn’t read, so I would grab something random. With this method, I don’t feel guilty or so split.


    2. Jackie B @ Death by Tsundoku says:

      You know I’m a self-proscribed mood reader. I figure that reading should never be a chore. This isn’t my job. This shouldn’t be a cruel task-master. While I occasionally read books which challenge me and I’d rather not read (I’m looking at you Measure What Matters), I always try to read what I *want* to read. It keeps reading fun, enjoyable, and worthwhile hobby. There are so many other things I am forced to do, why force myself to read a book I don’t want to?


      1. Grab the Lapels says:

        That is indeed a very good question. I have found that some books I forced myself to get into turned out to be my favorites–I’m thinking of Bogeywoman by Jaimy Gordon and Cruddy by Lynda Barry. But now you’ve got me thinking even deeper. I’m not so sure that I experience too many moods. I mean, when I’m vile, I’m all-out kitty claws vicious (sorry, Nick!), but in general I feel content. Up until very recently, and you probably know this as well as anyone, I was mostly driven by anxiety. Not knowing which book to read alone could make me anxious.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Jackie B @ Death by Tsundoku says:

        Aw. The idea of not knowing what book to read making you anxious makes me so sad. I know that anxiety is a part of your life, but I’m glad to see its grip is waning.

        I have a lot of genre-based moods. I am known to start a book, only to put it down and stop reading it based on my mood. That doesn’t mean I won’t ever read it again. It just means I’m not in the right headspace for it. There are books I LOVE which read at the wrong time just don’t sit well with me. It’s weird.


      3. Grab the Lapels says:

        I think headspace is different that mood, though (or maybe I’m splitting hairs). For instance, if I’m really anxious, I can’t focus. Reading a book like Alias Grace would be too hard, and even a Mercedes Lackey book would be challenging, but not as bad. Thus, I might choose something with simpler vocab and plot. A mood, to me, is more like “I’m in the mood for a high adventure story” or “I’m in the mood for a mystery.” Which I totally get! But what I see are bloggers not know what mood they’re in, so they quit reading and get into a slump. I’m working on a blog post about mood readers this week.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Jackie B @ Death by Tsundoku says:

        Oh man. I have to check out your post about mood readers. I don’t know if I think headspace and mood are different. I get what you’re saying about “I’m in the mood for a high adventure story”, but I think mood affects our headspace. You know what I mean?


      5. Grab the Lapels says:

        I think I do know what you mean, but I want to write this mood post so I can have a more thorough conversation with people regarding what “mood reading” means to them. I’ve discovered it varies! An no, I haven’t written the post yet. Woopsie Doodles.

        Liked by 1 person

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