The challenge calls for reading 52 books this year. But not just any books. The books you choose to read have to fit a specific category like “a book written by someone under 30” or “a book set in the future.”
I’m particularly excited by these descriptions: “a book set somewhere you’ve always wanted to visit,” “a classic romance,” “a book that was originally written in a different language,” and “a book that made you cry.”
I’m really looking forward to expanding my literary horizons by reading books I have either never heard of or have had zero desire to read before (see: “a book at the bottom of your to-read list”).
I am someone for whom reading is second nature, a characteristic my mom attributes to the hours she and my dad spent reading me stories as a toddler, as a baby, and even as a fetus in the womb. Relaxing with a new book and a mug of tea is an activity that almost always appeals to me, but I know that for many, reading is something you have to force yourself to do until you enjoy it.
If that’s the case for you, here are a few tips to transform yourself into the type of person who actually enjoys reading:
12 Tips For Learning to Love Reading
1. Pick a genre or storyline that interests you immediately
2. Make reading a daily habit, like brushing your teeth
3. Read before you go to sleep, even if it’s only for five minutes
4. Put away your phone and laptop when you read so you can focus
5. Have a new book in mind to start before you finish the one you’re on
6. Make reading an adventure: go to the beach, the park or a café with your book
7. If the book is awful, don’t feel obligated to finish it
8. Use reading as your daily downtime or de-stressor
9. Carry a book with you in your car or bag and read whenever you're stuck waiting
10. Read to reward yourself for accomplishing the things you don’t want to do
11. Read in a way that fits your style. No shame in using an iPad, Kindle, or audio book if it suits your needs better
12. Mark passages you love and share them with your friends or family
Above all, read what you enjoy and be consistent about it. Do those two things and you will be reading more than you ever have before and loving the process—I guarantee it.
Below is my current work-in-progress list of books to read in 2015. I welcome any suggestions you might have for me!
2015 Reading Challenge
~ A book with more than 500 pages
~ A classic romance: Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell. I’ve wanted to read this book ever since I took a literature class in college that compared contemporary novels with racial themes to historical race documents. We didn’t study this book in class, but we mentioned it several times for the racial tropes and stereotypes it perpetuates.
~ A book that became a movie: The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton. I adore reading books that are later adapted for film. This movie starring Blake Lively will be out this year and since I’d like to see it, I figure I might as well read the book first. If you have any other interesting recommendations, do tell!
~ A book published this year
~ A book with a number in the title
~ A book written by someone under 30
~ A book with nonhuman characters
~ A funny book
~ A book by a female author: The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult. I actually just finished this book last weekend and it was spectacular. I can’t recommend it enough to everyone. It is poignant, funny, poetic writing. Picoult has a talent for raising moral questions in her stories that force you to examine the nature of humanity in an equally critical and compassionate way.
~ A mystery or thriller
~ A book with a one-word title: Revival by Stephen King. King is one of my favorite authors and I’m excited to read his latest book that deals with questions about religion and faith, topics he usually doesn’t delve into.
~ A book of short stories
~ A book set in a different country: A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway. I’ve always wanted to read this book because it focuses on Hemingway’s life in Paris and I’m a sucker for stories that transport me to my favorite city in the world. I’m also fascinated with Hemingway because of the way the literary world universally praises his writing. I adore The Sun Also Rises, but otherwise find his work to be boring and flat. Thoughts on this literary legend?
~ A nonfiction book
~ A popular author’s first book: Carrie by Stephen King. Despite being obsessed with King’s writing style, I have never had a desire to read this book. King has said in interviews before and in his memoir that he was never very fond of the book. Despite this, Carrie was the story that launched his prolific writing career and for that reason, I’m looking forward to seeing what all the hype is about.
~ A book from an author you love that you haven’t read yet: The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert. I feel like Elizabeth Gilbert is my kindred spirit, as I’m sure millions of other women do, too. I still reread Eat Pray Love on a regular basis and marvel at Gilbert’s divine descriptions, so I’m excited to dive into a fiction work of hers.
~ A book a friend recommended: The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison. My English major partner-in-crime and dear friend Keren told me this is one of her favorite books. When someone you love and admire so deeply tells you about something she loves, you just know you will somehow love it, too. Any other recommendations, friends? I’m open to reading a few books from this category.
~ A Pulitzer-Prize winning book: Beloved by Toni Morrison. A classic that I feel compelled to read if only just to say I’ve done it.
~ A book based on a true story
~ A book at the bottom of your to-read list: Maybe a novel written in French. That’s definitely on the bottom of my list due to the difficulty that comes with reading in a foreign language, but I should really make it a priority so I can keep up with my French skills.
~ A book your mom loves: Beach Music by Pat Conroy. My mom hasn’t told me much about this book, other than that she is dying for me to read it. We have similar taste in fiction, so I’m sure this will be a good one.
~ A book that scares you
~ A book more than 100 years old
~ A book based entirely on its cover: Can’t wait to go shopping at the bookstore for this one!
~ A book you were supposed to read in school but didn’t: In case it wasn’t already obvious, I’m about to out myself as a major English nerd and teacher’s pet with this confession: I have actually read every page of every book ever assigned to me in school. There’s not one I ever skipped in high school or college. Are there any books you read in high school or college and loved? I’m sure my teachers didn’t assign me every beautiful and classic novel out there so there’s probably plenty of new material to explore.
~ A memoir
~ A book you can finish in a day: I may just devote an afternoon to this one, head to a nearby Barnes & Noble, choose a thin book and snuggle up to finish it in the store.
~ A book with antonyms in the title: War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy. I can’t think of any other antonym titles out there and this one happens to be a classic. It’s possible this may be too ambitious, though. Any other suggestions?
~ A book set somewhere you’ve always wanted to visit
~ A book that came out the year you were born
~ A book with bad reviews
~ A trilogy
~ A book from your childhood
~ A book with a love triangle: Any ideas that aren’t Twilight or The Hunger Games?
~ A book set in the future
~ A book set in high school
~ A book with a color in the title: The Color Purple by Alice Walker. An obvious choice and a classic I’ve always heard about and never made the time to read.
~ A book that made you cry: East of Eden by John Steinbeck. There are hundreds of books that have made me cry over the years. (A few of my favorites: A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey, Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card, Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows by JK Rowling, 11/22/63 by Stephen King, Lord of the Flies by William Golding, Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption by Stephen King, The Road by Cormac McCarthy, The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini, and recently The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult). East of Eden is one of those stories I remember feeling deeply affected by in high school, but I don’t actually remember the details of it. I’m looking forward to reading it with a new perspective now that I’m older.
~ A book with magic
~ A graphic novel
~ A book by an author you’ve never read before: All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. I bought this one based entirely on its glowing reviews and the fact that it takes place in Saint Malo, France during World War II. I love this area of France and I’m fascinated by this period of history.
~ A book you own but have never read: Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay. No idea what this story is about, but I have been staring at the book’s spine on my bookshelf for years now. Time to take the plunge.
~ A book that takes place in your hometown
~ A book that was originally written in a different language: Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy. Always wanted to read it and never have. I can’t wait.
~ A book set during Christmas
~ A book written by an author with your same initials
~ A play: "A Streetcar Named Desire" by Tennessee Williams. I have zero clue what this play is about, but I’m intrigued by the name alone.
~ A banned book: So many to choose from! The ones that interest me right now: Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck, Animal Farm by George Orwell, Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, and Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown.
~ A book based on or turned into a TV show
~ A book you started but never finished: The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman. I started this book at my younger brother’s request nearly three years ago and never finished it. I’m so happy this last category exists so I don’t have to see Cole’s disappointed face every time he asks if I ever managed to finish this book.
What are your favorite books? Any takers to join me in this challenge? Any suggestions for books to fit the above categories? I’d love to hear your thoughts!