Devour More Books with these 8 Reading Challenges

A huge stack of multi-coloured books with a text overlay and title reading '8 reading challenges to help you devour more books'

If you’re aiming to read more books, or diversity your reading this year, then these reading challenges and readathons will help you to add extra titles to your list. For the purposes of this post, we’ve only listed book challenges that are hosted on blogs and websites, rather than via BookTubers, although we may add these later.

We’ve also included the bigger ones here, which tend to take place every year and have sizeable number of participants, but you can find lots of smaller book challenges run by book bloggers on the internet too. Both have their advantages and it’s worth trying different types to see what works best for you.

Readathons

There are all sorts of reading challenges out there, but readathons have their own distinctive character and frameworks so we’ve listed them separately.

What is a Readathon?

A readathon is a reading marathon where you dedicate yourself to intensive reading for a set time period – usually 24 or 48 hours. Sometimes these are themed, and sometimes not. The two challenges we’ve included here are open so you can read anything you like within the time frame.

Organised readathons also have a group focus so the idea is that you sign up, share progress on social media and encourage other readers to keep on going. The general purpose of a readathon is to complete as many books as possible in a short period of time, and these book challenges are often used to reduce TBR piles. You can join the structured book marathons below, or set up your own as part of a reading retreat at home.

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Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon

This 24 hour readathon was designed to be exactly that – constant reading for a whole day and night. The reading challenge was originally created by Dewey in 2007 (who is sadly no longer with us), and is now run by Kate and Gabby.

Date: The readathon takes place twice a year – in April and October. The next date is 24 April 2021 and you can sign-up via the website.

Time: Because this reading marathon only takes place over 24 hours, everyone starts at the same time (8am EDT/12 noon GMT).

There are often pre-readathon mini-challenges before the events (in 2021 this is a board game). As with many organised readathons, you can win prizes and add to a log of books read.

Although this is one of the tougher book challenges, it would be a real experience to try an overnight reading binge.

24in48 Readathon

The 24in48 Readathon is where you read for 24 hours out of 48 across a weekend, Founded by Rachel and co-hosted by Kerry and Kristen, participants sign up at the website and then encourage each other via social media. There’s a form where you can log books as well as the opportunity to win prizes.

Date: Usually at the beginning of each year (most recently February 2021).

Time: Apart from the overall goal of reading for 24 hours in 48 hours, the format is very flexible. Readers can stick to their own time zones and schedules.

A fantastic way to set aside focused reading time without losing sleep!

Reading Challenges

Traditional reading challenges tend to be slightly more leisurely than readathons, but they still involve effort on behalf of the reader. They range from the pretty easy (setting a yearly book completion target) to the tough (ticking off 52 prompts). Book challenges often include the following:

  • Reading prompts or mini challenges – these can be anything – author, genre, theme, even reading by cover or title. We’ve included sample prompts from each of the entries below so you can get a feel for the different styles.
  • A timeframe – most commonly a full calendar year.
  • Social media communities – sometimes just a hashtag
  • Prizes or product discounts upon successful completion of the challenge

Some apps such as StoryGraph are taking book challenges a step further and integrating these into the user experience. I hope we’ll see more of this over time.

Book Riot’s Read Harder Challenge

The Read Harder reading challenge sets 24 tasks across a whole year to help readers to try new genres, authors and perspectives. The goals are set each year and can be found on a dedicated page on the Book Riot website. You can do this on your own, or hook up with other readers on social media.

  • Date: 1 January to December 31 (2 challenges per month)
  • Time: Flexible
  • Book Challenge Example: Read a book you’ve been intimidated to read

When you complete the challenge, take a photo of your list to the organisers (email on page) to receive 30% off one order at Out of Print!

With so many followers, this has to be one of the bigger reading challenges so a good one to start with.

The POPSUGAR Reading Challenge

If you’d like to complete a set amount of books a year, and connect with others readers, the POPSUGAR Reading Challenge could be for you. The idea is to read 50 or 40 books over 12 months. There are 40 standard book challenge prompts and 10 “advanced” prompts if you want to take it further.

If you like to have company when you read, then you have a choice of joining a special Facebook group, Goodreads group or following on Twitter.

  • Date: 1 January to December 31
  • Time: Flexible
  • Book Challenge Example: Read a book set somewhere you’d like to visit in 2021

This challenge is purely for fun and stretch.

The StoryGraph App Reading Challenges

For something a little bit different, head over to the Storygraph App’s Reading Challenge Directory.

The StoryGraph App helps you to track your reading and find new books. First you need to sign up, then add your titles. Once you have created your lists, you will find it easy to follow the reading challenges, especially as other users have already added their suggestions. There are 3 main challenges to choose from in 2021 (and a further 12 category challenges):

The StoryGraph’s Onboarding Reading Challenge 2021 – this is designed to help you tackle your to-read pile, and learn more about the app.

The StoryGraph’s Translation Challenge 2021 – a set of prompts to encourage you to explore translated work.

The StoryGraph’s Genre Challenge 2021 – a set of challenges to introduce readers to new genres.

  • Dates: 1 January to December 31
  • Times: Flexible
  • Example Book Challenge: A book translated from Arabic

This is probably the most innovative book challenge setup we’ve seen

The Nerd Daily’s 2021 Reading Challenge

This book challenge includes 52 mini challenges, basically one per week. However, don’t be put off by that because the criteria are very open, and can be easily combined so that you can complete 1 entry or blend 3-4. For instance, you could combine Debut Author + Standalone + Set in the Future to immediately complete several of the challenges on one book.

  • Dates: 1 January to December 31
  • Times: Flexible
  • Example Book Challenge: Food on the cover

The wide prompts make this a super-versatile challenge, which can be as tough or as easy as you like.

The Goodreads 2021 Reading Challenge

The biggest and simplest reading challenge out there can be found on Goodreads. All you need to do is create an account and add the number of books you want to read in a year. At the point of writing this, there are 3,324,680 participants and 155,922,927 books pledged.

This is as far as it goes though. There aren’t any prompts or integrations – just a target number that you set yourself. However, you can find reading challenges organised by groups (search for ‘reading challenges’ in Groups).

  • Dates: 1 January to December 31
  • Times: Flexible
  • Example Book Challenge: N/A

Reading Women Challenge

This is the fourth year that the Reading Women podcast has set a reading challenge. In 2021, they have 26 prompts with 4 bonus challenges.

The team is keen to encourage followers to read books by trans women and people of other marginalized genders who are comfortable being included in feminine-coded initiatives.

  • Dates: 1 January to December 31
  • Times: Flexible
  • Example Book Challenge: Read a Muslim Middle Grade novel

This is a great book challenge for diversifying your reading in a structured way.

Have you ever joined a book challenge or readathon? Let us know in the comments below!

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2 Comments

  1. March 17, 2021 / 4:24 pm

    ooh these are great challenges. Always good to get something to encourage reading something a bit out your comfort zone xxx

    • thebookfamilyrogerson
      Author
      March 18, 2021 / 12:45 pm

      Too right! The 24 hour one looks really interesting but I am rubbish if I don’t sleep! xxx

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