One of the things I have always loved about the book blogging community are the reading challenges developed by book bloggers from around the world. In the past two years (in my former blogging life), I participated in a total of twenty-four challenges and each one has brought a different book into my reading life. Some were easier to finish; some I never did. But since I decided to step away from the rush of book blogging  — that feeling that I had to read and review as many books as possible to keep reader traffic up and comments bountiful — and give myself a clean state where I can discuss my feelings and enjoy the books I read, I’ve been debating over whether or not to sign up for challenges this year.

For example, I know for a fact that the A to Z Challenge does not fit into my new outlook on book reading. A wonderful challenge with an equally wonderful host, the A to Z offers participants a great way to branch out and try different authors as they attempt to fill every letter of the alphabet with a book title or author’s last name or both. I’ve done just title and both title and author in the past. However, as I was updating my book log, I found that as I rushed to fill X and I or U and B I forced myself to finished books I neither enjoyed nor would not have picked up in the first place.

But I do believe challenges — whether they are year-long or perpetual, self-created or another blogger’s creation — bring a certain pizazz to our personal reading lives. And besides working my own “challenges” that I plan on bringing over from my former blogging days, I want to sign up for this coming year’s challenges. (I’ve bookmarked quite a few posts from A Novel Challenge.) It’s just difficult trying to find the balance between my new outlook on reading and my former “competitive reader” mindset.

Photo © Me. Old books I discovered while cleaning out my grandfather’s basement. St. Louis, Missouri. Taken: May 6, 2008.


  1. I agree that it is hard to balance reading and blogging. It can become so competitive and you can start feeling guilty about not posting as often as other bloggers. A to Z challenge was a problem for me also. I won’t sign up for it again.


    • I thought taking an extended break would help with that feeling, but every time I did come back to post some thoughts I would immediately feel guilty again. Hence the beginning of a new blog. I figured if I started with afresh with limited posting in the beginning, I wouldn’t feel guilty about the few posts I’ll manage in the coming semester. My old blog just made me feel guilty every time I even looked at it.


  2. Great new blog! I don’t sign up for A-Z challenges or ones involving randomness or words in the title. I try to only sign up to those that focus on things I actually want to read anyway – book prizes, international reading etc. Anything else is too much like hard work


    • Thanks, Jackie. I find that there are some challenges where you have to match a word in the title that work for me; I seem to collect books with odd titles. But your plan sounds like it works perfectly for you! This year I’m trying to find challenges that encourage me to read more classics and other books I’ve been meaning to get to rather than ones that encourage me to read books I originally had no interest in.


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