Reading Challenges: A Few Questions

I started my blog because of a reading challenge: The TBR Challenge. Stephanie from Confessions of a Bookaholic introduced me to both the blogosphere and challenges. My blog has since branched out into other things and I've dwindled down my reading challenges as time goes on.

Reading challenges were once de rigueur for the book blogging world but not that long ago many of my buddies either swore off challenges or cut back. Even when I myself sign up for a challenge, I hesitate to commit myself to specific books.

Why do you think this is? Are we suddenly afraid of commitment?

Some challenges are wildly successful, no matter what. I'm thinking of Carl's RIP Challenge for one. What makes a successful reading challenge? Is it the host? The participants?

What about giveaways? Do they have any bearing on whether or not you join a challenge or are they just a nice bonus?

If you've hosted a challenge, did you consider it successful? What would you do next time? Anything different or keep it the same?

Sorry about all the questions today. I have challenges on the brain. I'm trying to make a challenge that people might join ;)


  1. I think the successful challenges let you chose how far to commit yourself--like with the RIP Challenge, you could choose different levels of participation.

    Why do people pull back from joining challenges? For me, I started to feel like my life was being controlled by an English teacher. Yeah, you do want to challenge yourself, but you also want to just have fun and read what you want to read.

  2. For me, challenges are for challenging ourselves to read SOMETHING out of the ordinary. Going beyond. Reading blogs adds lots to my TBR and I think for me, I've gotten burnout from trying to force myself into a TBR list for a certain week. Blogging is taking more time the more bloggers we read.

    I have hosted challenges. For me, it's about gathering lists, not going back and linking to a challenge page. For me, I couldn't care less about "giveaways". If I want to join a challenge, I will. But it's for me to read more widely, not to get something physical out of it.

    Anyway, life is busy for me, that's why I'm trying to stay away from so many challenges!

  3. Chris, I usually go with the challenges that help me get books off of my TBR shelf (mountain). I have a ton of books sitting around that I haven't read yet. I love challenges that are open enough that I can fit those in. I don't want to go out and buy books. And I try to stay away from those that make you commit to your list. If I can't change it up, I'll fail, but I do like the TBR challenge because it gives me a list of 12 alternatives even though I can't change the lists. Also I like a book to fit into several challenges at one time. If I can't have cross challenge books, I probably won't do it. I also like the fun ones, like Jenners' Take Another Chance Challenge and Bart's TwentyTen Reading Challenge. I like looking through my bookshelf to find the books that will fit into the fun categories. I've never joined for the giveaways so that never matters to me. I think you'd be a great host =)

  4. For me I like challenges that force me to read out of my comfort zone but where I can still choose my own books, and where I don't have to stick to a set list. I also wouldn't join a challenge where I couldn't overlap with other challenges. For me that is to restrictive. I don't really care about prizes, it is nice and all but often I am ineligible anyway. For me challenges are a way of spreading my love for a book. :)

  5. Trisha (electic-eccentric)June 11, 2010 at 9:50 PM

    Personally, reading challenges are only successful if they revolve around books I would read anyway. Once Upon a Time, RIP, Dream King Challenge, anything involving reading your own books, Women UnBound, GLBT, okay I'll stop listing them, but my point is that I sign up for these challenges and yes, they may introduce me to new books, but they do so in a genre or within a theme that I'm already interested in. I'm not signing up for any historical romance challenges.

    Outside of the challenge relating to a personal interest of mine, my other preference is that, if the challenge is 6 months or more, there be mini-challenges along the way to hold my interest. I can't tell you how often I just sort of forget about a challenge because it's been months and months since it started and nothing is happening in the mean time. But that's just a preference, not a necessity for success.

  6. I started my blog 3 months back, and signed up for too many challenges. Not sure how many, but it was more than I should have. Now 3 months later, I think that was a rash decision. I shouldn't have signed up for too many, you know. Not because of commitment fears, but more of -- I come across too many good books a day and some times I like being impulsive in my choice of book. Not pick something because it is there in a challenge list. I think I didn't plan well. However, I love those eternal challenges. Like the Orange and the Booker projects. Those are fun, since I have a longer time frame (forever) to read them.

  7. I started my blog because of a challenge too! I think the host has a lot to do with the success of a challenge but I also think that a quick easy one (like RIP) makes it more successful too. I like to join challenges that appeal to me because of the books I'd be reading, not the giveaways that are involved. What kind of a challenge are you considering?
    My recent post

  8. When I started blogging, I signed up for over 40 challenges in the first few months. I'm a little more selective as to joining challenges now because I haven't finished the ones I joined yet.

    I'm reading more books this year than I usually do to keep up with challenges, so when I start joining more I'll try to keep it to a low amount so I can read books on a whim as well as the ones I plan.

    I've never really paid attention to the giveaways attached to challenges.

    I host one challenge and there are about 33 or so participants. Way more than I thought I would get when I started it. I'm planning on doing it again next year, probably the same way. The only difference would be that I'm going to keep an ongoing Mr. Linky for participants reviews instead of posting a new Mr. Linky every month.

  9. Great questions. I'll try my best to answer a few:
    1. Why are people stopping challenges altogether or scaling back? I fall in to the latter camp. Sometimes I just want to read a book for the sake of reading it-- not because it's Canadian, scary, historical, begins with K. Too many challenges starts to feel like homework and not meeting the requirements can feel like failure.

    2. What makes a successful challenge? First and foremost, the theme. Not many people want to read a whole bunch of books set in the Boer War (i.e., the Boering Challenge), and second to that, I think people want a challenge with requirements that actually feel like a challenge (not read a book that has between 50-600 words), but not impossible (Read ever Pulitzer prize winner in 6 months). Of course, I'm sure other factors come into play (the host, the format, prizes) but I think those first two I mentioned trump all else.

    3. Giveaways: Nice bonus.

    4. I host the Canadian Book Challenge. I'd consider it successful. I've scaled back my effort a bit. Before I used to collect everyone's reviews and write them into a single post at the end of each month. As the number of participants grew, it was becoming way too much work for me. Now I simply get people to submit their reviews at the end of each month. I'd consider using Mr. Linky in the future, but I've had issues with it in the past. I've also considered a separate challenge blog, like the Graphic Novels Challenge does. But admittedly, I'm sort of chained to my stats counter and I don't want to give up the numbers on own blog that the Canadian Book Challenge brings in each month.

  10. I think people like challenges that don't require reading a ton of books, that fit in with their planned reading anyway and that don't require committing to a set list beforehand. I co-host a challenge, and I think it's pretty successful

  11. For me at least, the most relaxed challenges are the most successful ones. I prefer challenges that don't necessarily stipulate how many books you need to read, that don't make you stick to a list, and that most feel like celebrations of a particular genre or theme - and such is the case with Carl's. I cut back on the number of challenges I join because I want to follow my reading whims and prefer not to plan things too much. So these days the challenged I join are those that still give me some leverage room to change my mind or pick and choose according to my mood. As for giveaways, they're a nice bonus, but they definitely don't determine whether or not I join.

  12. I originally started blogging for 3 challenges - TBR, Chunkster, and Award winners. I actually signed up for more challenges this year than I ever have before, but most of them overlap. I'm also not stressing about whether or not I can finish them. I look at most challenges as a personal challenge and am not looking for a prize or anything if I complete them.
    Two things will keep me away from a challenge: 1. If the challenge has too many rules involved, forget it. 2. If the host has a history of not bringing it to a conclusion, I won't be back for any more of their challenges.
    As far as the question about what makes a challenge successful, I think two things stand out for me:
    1. It allows me to work through my TBR pile with some flexibility. 2. It involves a genre I'd likely be reading anyway.

  13. I think what makes a successful challenge is one that isn't too complicated and easy for newcomers too. The Once Upon a Time and R.I.P. challenges are so successful because Carl is so enthusiastic about certain genres, post his challenges like clockwork and visit each blog that participants in his challenges. His challenges are also easy to participate in, which participants picking their level of commitment.

  14. I've cut back alot on the challenges I've joined also, mostly because I found I liked the idea of them more than always finishing them! I love being challenged, but I've discovered through past challenges that if I make a list, I rarely stick to it. there are always books I haven't thought about, discovered, realize I want to read, after I get involved in a set challenge. So the challenges I've had the most success at and stick with, are the free-flowing ones where I can add books whenever. I don't join because of give-aways, either, though they are a lovely extra, it's the books that I love. I like to read on a whim, and knowing this now about myself, I pick challenges that let me pick and choose and change. Carl's Challenges are like that for me - I mean, we get to define ourselves what a fantasy vs a folk tale is! Or how dark our fantasy can be before it becomes horror for the RIP challenge. Or the Canadian Book Challenge, which this year we got to pick anything we wanted, and I'm going to complete this one for the first time!!!!

    thought-provoking post, Chris!!!

  15. Bookfool aka NancyJune 11, 2010 at 10:04 PM

    I don't think most bloggers fear commitment! Personally, I just like to save "challenges" for particular times of the year (the RIP is fun) or categories that I need a little motivation to read . . . usually that I've planned to read but haven't gotten around to.

    Carl is a great host, but I just like the association of spooky or atmospheric novels with fall, for some reason. I don't care about giveaways - they're just a bonus.

    Hosting was too much work, IMHO. I hosted the 1st Chunkster Challenge and there was a LOT that I'd change, but I just didn't want to deal with learning Mr. Linky and coming up with prizes, so I passed it on. Dana has made some excellent changes and it gets better every year.

  16. I enjoy challenges and are not motivated by any giveaways that are associated with. If I win something, cool but my focus is reading books that I want to read.

    The reason I started blogging was to better keep track of books that I read and record my thoughts. I didn't even know about challenges and giveaways when I started. That remains my primary focus. However, I do enjoy challenges and participate in way too many of them. I'm not afraid of commitment however, I have been finding that I have been spending more time blogging than reading so I have taken some steps to cut back on some things. I also find that challenges are taking a lot of my time by keeping them up to date and reporting my progress. Therefore, I have decided that I am going to scale way back on them next year. I am currently participating in 17 book challenges. Last year I was in 15.

    I also host 2 challenges and as long as there is still interest, I will continue to host them. I enjoy hosting them and created them because they were important goals that I wanted to meet: Read more of my ARCs and read more of the books that I have won.

    I am very happy with the level of participation and do consider them successful, especially the ARC Reading Challenge, which is in it's second year.

  17. I personally love most of the challenge ideas but I have a weird personality quirk in that once I decide I "will" read such-and-such book, suddenly I would rather read ANYTHING but that book. It's a little bit appalling to learn that I'm so intractable *to my own rules*.


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