The Sunday Salon: To Challenge or Not to Challenge

Happy Sunday, all.  I’ve been spending a lot of time lately thinking about reading challenges.  It’s difficult not to these days – the beginning of 2011 is just around the corner, everyone is announcing the challenges they plan to host and join in the upcoming year, and following A Novel Challenge certainly helps!  I have a problem, though – I suck at challenges.  Every year, I join some and inevitably end up abandoning them.  The abandoning usually takes place sometime between June and September, right about the time when I start to feel really overwhelmed with what I haven’t gotten accomplished the first half of the year, and decide to whittle down my commitments for the second half.  Originally, I was planning on a challenge-free 2011… well, I’ve already nixed that idea.  But how will I keep my challenges in check, you ask?  The answer is, I haven’t quite figured that out yet.

I know for sure I’ll be participating in A Year of Feminist Classics – most of these books are already on my TBR and I’ve been meaning to read them for a LONG time.  Not to mention I love the idea.  I would like to do War Through the Generations this year, as it focuses on the Civil War, a time period I don’t read much about but would like to.  And I just know that more will continue to pop up that I’m intrigued by.

Another challenge I’d really like to give myself this year is to get my TBR under control.  I have three floor-to-ceiling bookshelves, completely full, with at least half of the books unread.  And many of the books I own but haven’t read are books I’ve been DYING to read, some for years.  I’m still pondering this idea, but as of now I’m thinking I’ll commit to 50 or 75 books, already on my shelves pre-2011, to read next year.

So, tell me, what are your feelings on reading challenges?  What challenges do you plan on committing to in 2011?  And if you are a challenge pro (you  know who you are), how do you manage them all successfully?  Are there any challenges you know of that I absolutely MUST join?  Tell, tell!


36 thoughts on “The Sunday Salon: To Challenge or Not to Challenge”

  1. I’m probably just going to take on a TBR challenge or two this coming year, to help clear my shelves off. I felt like I had too many on my plate last time and I don’t like being unable to finish all the ones I signed up for!

    1. LOL I tend to do the same thing. Kind of defeats the purpose of “challenge” but I suppose if you do a lot of them it’s certainly a challenge to finish every one!

  2. The only challenge I participated in the last couple of years was a personal challenge to read 50 books. I liked this one because it encouraged me to read rather than watch television. This year I am signing up for a couple just to see how they go. I also think that they should be relatively fun. As for managing them, I think I’m going to do a little bit of planning for a couple of them to make sure I get them completed.

    1. Challenges are fun, and good for you for setting personal goals! I do enjoy challenges, but my problem is I pile too many on and then don’t feel inspired to read any of the books! Not good.

  3. This is going to be the first year I participate in challenges. I will do the What’s In A Name Challenge and the 2011 Reading From My Shelves Challenge (I assume this one will run again, if not I will do it myself as I have so many books on my piles to read!

  4. asides from setting a few personal goals for myself, I’ve mostly decided to go challenge free, although later in the month I’ll check through challenges I can find again and make sure. I just have such a big TBR pile, it seems like focusing on that for the year is a better idea anyway!

  5. Every year I decide I’m not going to do reading challenges, and every year people make up amazing challenges that make me want to participate. There’s one that’s a challenge to read the books we should have read in high school but didn’t. How good is that?? #nowillpower

  6. I’m glad you won’t even try to resist joining us for the Feminist Classics project… that way I won’t have to bug you to join 😉 Other than that and swapping reading lists with a couple of blogging friends, though, I don’t think I’m joining many challenges myself for next year. I did too horribly this year to be able to contemplate it 😛

    1. Yes, I am definitely joining! There’s no way I could resist a year of Feminist Classics. 🙂 I’m loving reading all your swap lists, by the way… makes me itch to find a person to swap lists with a blogging friend, then I remember that I do not need more books to add to my overflowing TBR!

  7. I hate not finishing challenges, but it’s always the TBR challenge that I cannot complete. I wasn’t going to sign up for any challenges in the new year, but my will was broken with the One, Two, Theme! Challenge and now I’m having a hard time stopping. I would like to do the Feminist Classics project, but only one of the books selected is in my TBR pile and it would be just too hard with school.

  8. I’m limiting myself to challenges for next year. So far, I’ve only signed up for one: What’s in a Name 4. There are two or three that are tempting. I really need to challenge myself and read books from my TBR list and books that I own. At one time I was excited to read them, but as I purchased more and more books the excitement faded. I need to limit my library use (which is quite hard for me to do!) in order to get this done. I want 2011 to be different so there’s changes I need to make and to commit to.

  9. You should totally do the TBR Dare that Ready When You Are, CB is hosting. I posted about it on my TSS this morning. Looks like something to give me that extra needed push, ya know? 🙂

  10. I’ve only ever joined a couple of challenges, but my experience so far has been a mix of fun and stressful. I love the idea of challenges, though, and so have decided to participate in some of them unofficially. So, I guess they’re more like reading goals than challenges!

    I, too, have shelves full of unread books. I’m thinking one of my reading goals will have to be to read a certain percentage of books from the ones I already own!

    1. My problem is I can’t do them “unofficially” (it never seems real enough) and when I participate officially, I always forget to update my lists, the challenge blog, etc. It’s a balancing thing I gotta figure out.

  11. I gave up on challenges about 1/2 way through this year. I could never remember what I had signed up for, and then I’d think too much about what I thought I should be reading. It made my brain tired.

  12. This is my first year blogging and I’d completed some challenges and some I hadn’t even started… I think for 2011 I won’t do any so I can just read what I want. I don’t feel stressed not finishing, but I feel bad, since I know it takes quite a bit of effort to run them… Good luck with your decision!

    1. that’s a good point, too – all these people host challenges, if nobody finished them, what would be the point of them putting time and energy into running them?

  13. Oh darn, I had myself whittled down to four challenges, three of which almost entirely can overlap. But War Through The Generations focusing on the Civil War? I HAVE to do that one. My dad was an America History teacher for 38 years with a passion for the Civil War. Our family vacations revolved around going to the battlefields. This challenge was made for me!

  14. 2010 was my first year blogging and I joined a number of challenges and I liked how they connected me to fellow bloggers and prompted me to read in some areas I might not have otherwise focused on. But – I did not finish all my challenges – so next year’s challenge will be being more strategic about what I sign-up for and how I plan for it.

    I am hosting a challenge this year – Immigrant Stories Challenge – I know I will at least complete that one!!

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