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I started actively tracking my reading on Goodreads in 2015, and in 2016, I first embarked on the infamous Goodreads Reading Challenge. I set a high bar for myself—I pledged 50 books that year—but as an English major with a full course load, I easily exceeded my goal. The next year, I topped myself with a personal record of 67.
By 2018, I had graduated from college, and though I only challenged myself to read 30 books (I knew I wouldn’t be able to keep up with the pace my professors had set), I barely read half that number.
2019 wasn’t much better; Goodreads was all too happy to inform me earlier this month that I’d read just 9 of the 12 books I vowed to get through.
I felt disappointed in myself, to say the least.
As a freelance editor, I review more than 100,000 words each week on average, and after hours upon hours of reading for work, it can be hard to muster up the motivation to pick up a book just for the fun of it. For this reason, I resolved in 2020 to find a reading challenge that could keep me excited about reading by adding some structure to my reading routine while inspiring me to branch out and explore genres I don’t normally reach for.
I looked to Pinterest for ideas, but many of the reading lists I found either featured way too many prompts for me to cover in a single year or highlighted a specific genre, and didn’t veer far from it. Instead of continuing to search for a reading challenge that provided a happy medium, I decided to create my own.
If you’re challenging yourself to read one book each month in 2020, this reading list will help get you there:
January: A book that was a bestseller in 2019
February: A book written by an author of color that you haven’t read before
Celebrate Black History Month by picking up a book that’s new-to-you from an author of color. If you’re not sure what to choose, try taking a look at Tsitsi Dangarembga’s Nervous Conditions or Angie Thomas’s On the Come Up.
March: A nonfiction book about a subject you’d like to know more about
I love reading nonfiction works that inspire me to better myself personally and professionally—but sometimes, it’s nice to take a break from work and learn something just for fun. Revive your childhood passion for space, dinosaurs, or Ancient Egypt by grabbing a grown-up book on the topic.
April: A book with 200 pages or fewer
Make it a short read this month! Coming off what may have been a dense nonfiction read in March, April is the perfect time to unwind with a quick story. Bonus points if you borrow this book from a library—April is School Library Month, and National Library Week is celebrated the second-to-last week of the month.
May: A romance or science fiction novel that has less than 1,000 reviews on Goodreads
This month, challenge yourself to pick up a book that you’d never heard of before. Popularity isn’t always an indication of quality!
June: A coming-of-age story written by a woman
I love New Adult and Young Adult books, which means I read a lot of coming-of-age stories—and what better time than during the season of graduations? (Shout-out to my brother in law, David, who is graduating from high school this spring!)
July: A book you’ve been meaning to read, but haven’t
We all have books that have been sitting in our to-read piles for far too long. Maybe you’ve picked it up once or twice and put it down again, or maybe you just never felt like it was the right time to take the plunge. Put those feelings aside this month and power through! Bonus points if you choose a book that was published within the last three years.
August: A fast-paced adventure or fantasy story with at least a 4-star rating on Goodreads
Finish the summer strong with a book that you know will be a good one. Browse Goodreads (or your favorite review site) for a book that other readers have adored. If you’re really stuck, I’d recommend my personal all-time favorite: Vicious by V.E. Schwab.
September: A Y/A book, or a book you loved when you were a kid
Young Adult is one of the most popular categories for literature in the 21st century, but if that’s not your style, try a re-read this month. Go for something that gets you feeling nostalgic for best results.
October: An own-voices novel that features a main character who is LGBTQ+
October is LGBT History Month, so add some diversity to your reading routine by reaching for an own-voices novel that features a main character who is a member of the LGBTQ+ community. Challenge yourself further by finding a book that has a protagonist who identifies as LGBTQ+, but whose sexuality or gender identity isn’t the focus of the story.
November: A book that was self-published, or an audiobook
Support indie authors this National Novel Writing Month by choosing a book that was self-published. If your local bookstore doesn’t sell any indie novels, stretch yourself in other ways by trying an audiobook this month. You may even be able to tackle both challenges in one read with a book like The Savior’s Champion by Jenna Moreci.
December: A book that was a bestseller in 2020
Wrap up the year by selecting a book that your fellow readers loved in 2020. What better way to look back on the first year of the new decade?
I hope these 12 reading prompts help keep you motivated to get through at least a dozen books in 2020. But if you’re not sure about reading 12 books in 12 months, don’t stress! Try following every other prompt in this reading list, or just start from the top and see how far you get. You can even simply use this reading challenge to inspire you to look for new books you wouldn’t have thought to pick up previously—there are no rules when it comes to your personal reading!
Are you planning on completing this challenge along with me? Share what you’re reading this year in the comments below!
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