This is the time of year where you see reading challenges, goals, and plans galore. The Goodreads Challenge that you set for yourself, the Popsugar and Book Riot challenges that push you to diversify your reading, and those country reading lists floating around on Pinterest. There are endless options. But do they actually help? And what do you gain out of it? This year I’ve been trying to be more purposeful in what I set out to do for myself, and that very much includes reading. So, these are my 2019 reading plans and how you can join in!
2019 Reading Challenge
Last year I tried to do the Popsugar reading challenge, and…………….. it was a total failure. When I tried to really stick to it, I was setting aside books I truly wanted to read to try and find something that would fit whatever criterion. I didn’t enjoy reading, and it felt like homework. However, I have done the Goodreads challenge for seventh years in a row now, and I’ve signed up to do my eighth. I personally enjoy the Goodreads challenge, because it reminds me that I should keep reading without putting strict limits on me. I know that there are people who rage against it for a number of reasons. “Reading isn’t a sport,” “Why does it matter?,” and “What does it prove?” come up a lot. I don’t particularly care what anyone else’s Goodreads challenge looks like, I only care about mine- I’m comparing my reading to my past reading, and that makes me happy. I understand why people wouldn’t want to, but I enjoy it! I think that people need to take these less seriously, and enjoy them for what they are! (And yes, it was wonderful to finish the year at 85 books! It was a difficult year, and it is certainly a mental boost.)
NetGalley was one of my biggest discoveries of 2018! I did sign up for the service back in 2016, but never actually used it then. However, I signed up again, and have been madly reading books ever since. NetGalley is a website where you can sign up to read advanced copies of books for free, in exchange for an honest review. When you read as much as I do, getting books for free is wonderful. It can be a bit tough at the beginning, because it can be quite difficult to get approved for eARCs (Advanced Reader Copy) when you don’t have any history. You can always read “Available Now” titles to build up a base, and then start requesting!
I had excellent luck with getting approved straight away for history books. I don’t know if I have been refused for a history book yet- which is fantastic for a few reasons. 1) I get to read books that I would have paid upwards of $25 CAD for free! 2) I find new and up-and-coming books that I otherwise would not have known about. 3) I am learning about new areas of history! I have been able to read books from Lucy Worsley and Tracy Borman, the Joint Chief Curators of Historic Royal Palaces, which is a personal coup.
Other genres can be more difficult to get approved in. I didn’t have a ton of luck getting approved for chick lit (aka Women’s Fiction), and even General Fiction can be pretty dicey. It is getting better as I improve my review rate and publishers can get a feeling for me, but even though, I often get refused copies. It is something to consider when you are joining, but I would always say that it doesn’t hurt to request it! The only other downfall is that the ebooks they give you do expire, so if you do want to own the book yourself, you will have to purchase it. (I have no qualms with this, though!)
2019 TBR List
For the uninitiated readers out there, your TBR list is your To Be Read list. I currently have over 1200 books on my TBR list on Goodreads (I really need to edit that bad boy down…) However, I have made myself a smaller TBR list specifically for 2019. It currently only has 11 books on it, so it is entirely doable. It is on my Kobo, so they are only ebooks I have purchased, which is the only downfall. However, as my highly anticipated reads come in from the library, I also mentally add them to my TBR list, as well. I am hoping that creating my own annual To Be Read list, I can create some self-guided direction for my reading this year!
I also have a tendency to load up on books on my Kobo, especially during sales. It is not uncommon for me to buy 5-8 books for $15 or less every few months when there is a good sale! It’s great because it essentially guarantees that I will always have something to read, but it also adds to my list of unread books rather quickly. Hopefully this will make sure that I am reading and enjoying the books that are catching my eye!
I am still an enthusiastic and truly happy member of three book clubs currently, and I love that they push me to read more! I have my own #AnHistorianReads book club, which I would love for everyone to join. It is all in our Facebook group, and we read a different book each quarter and discuss it. It is small (currently under 20 people), but that makes for a friendly and welcoming atmosphere. If you are interested, please join the group! Our next read is The Little French Bistro by Nina George if you would like to take part ASAP!
I am also in a royal themed book club which is right up my alley. It is a mix of non-fiction and fiction, authors will often do Q&As in the group, and everyone is so wonderful and kind. It was absolutely one of the highlights of my 2019, as I’ve made many new friends there. And then I have an in-person book club here with friends in Winnipeg, and I truly appreciate that it makes me get out of the house every month. (There may be the stereotypical snacks and drinks, as well…) I would love to hear about your own book clubs in the comments!