At the end of 2019 I wrote a post detailing my reading pledges for 2020. This was, of course, pre-pandemic and I was looking forward to the new year and feeling hopeful.
Suffice it to say, I didn’t meet those pledges.
I started my reading challenge, but then lockdown and the difficulties it brought to other areas of my life (which I wrote about here), meant that I hit a reading slump as my mind was constantly elsewhere.
In February, I broke my pledge not to buy any new books for the first six months of the year when I attended an author event with Candice Carty-Williams and Sareeta Domingo. I bought a copy of Sareeta Domingo’s The Nearness of You, which she so kindly signed for me, so…#SorryNotSorry. Looking back, it was a silly pledge to make anyway, as I knew I wouldn’t be able to stick to it. Buying books is one thing I have always enjoyed doing; it is one of the only times I can spend quite a bit of money and not feel guilty. If there is one thing 2020 has taught me, it’s to do what makes you happy. Do what feeds your soul, because Lord knows this life isn’t guaranteed.
On the positive side though, I did keep my pledge to write more reviews and bookish articles. I reviewed Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad and The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett; I wrote about books that have shaped me and how to diversify your bookshelf. Furthering my book blogging brought me joy last year and I am proud of that.
So, what’s planned for this year?
Well, continuing with my book blogging of course. But to do that I also need to make more time for reading and make it more of a non-negotiable part of my life like it used to be.
I have set myself some ambitious reading goals this year. I am taking part in four reading challenges. Yes, you read that right. Yes, me, Sara B., who couldn’t even complete one reading challenge last year is now doing four.
“Why would you do that? Is it crack?” I hear you ask.
No, it isn’t. I am motivated by two things. Firstly, when I was a young bibliophile, I used to be able to read multiple books at once, and actually finish them. I used to read at every opportunity I got, and I want to go back to that as much as I can. Secondly, I want to make some headway in clearing my TBR. There are too many unread books sitting on my shelves.
So, to that end, I am completing the following challenges:
One of (if not the most) popular reading challenges out there, this one consists of 40 prompts to challenge you to read outside of your comfort zone. There is also an advanced challenge for those who sail through the main challenge, but I’m sticking with the main one for now.
The first prompt on this list is ‘a book published in 2021’, and for that I’ll be reading One of the Good Ones by Maika and Maritza Moulite. The book isn’t published until January 5th so I’ve got it on pre-order.
- Book Riot’s Read Harder Challenge
As the name suggests, this challenge exists to push readers to expand their reading horizons and engage with a wider range of voices and text types. There are 24 tasks, so two per month if you can.
The first prompt is a book you’ve been intimidated to read. For this one I’ve chosen a book on my TBR: David Olusoga’s Black and British: A Forgotten History. I’ve had this book on my shelf since 2018, when I attended a brilliant event at the Southbank Centre with David Olusoga and Akala in conversation, with June Sarpong chairing. I’m not intimidated to read it as such, but I think I’ve put it off for a while because of its length and because I know it will touch on events in Black history that will provoke an emotional response from me. However, I know that it’s time.
Alphabet Soup Reading Challenge and Alphabet Soup Author Challenge
These ones are pretty simple. The Alphabet Soup Reading Challenge requires you to read a book with a title starting with each letter of the alphabet. The Author Challenge requires you to read a book by an author with a name [forename or surname] that starts with each letter of the alphabet. These two challenges will help me clear my TBR, as the books I’ve chosen – for the most part – will come off my shelves.
For the main reading challenge, I’m starting with The Accidental Further Adventures of the 100 Year Old Man by Jonas Jonasson (I read the first book and loved it).
For the Author Challenge, I’m reading Fruit of the Lemon by Andrea Levy.
I have never really been into audiobooks; I have no idea why. This year I’ve decided to give them a proper try as they might help me achieve my reading goals, particularly where longer non-fiction books are concerned. So I’ve subscribed to Audible, and am reading Black and British that way. Fingers crossed I will find it really helpful.
So there it is, my 2021 reading goals. I’ve made a whole spreadsheet listing the challenges and the books I’ve chosen for each. Some books I read will fulfil more than one prompt for more than one challenge, which will be helpful. Nevertheless, I don’t intend for these goals to be an albatross around my neck. I actually enjoy stuff like this, so I’ll be taking it easy and going at my own comfortable pace.
Look out for reviews!
What are your reading goals for 2021? Are you taking part in a reading challenge? Comment below!