Happy new year to all, and, for romance readers, that means a whole new year full of new adventures, old friends, surprises, new twists on old favorites, long romantic walks through bookstore aisles or library stacks, and, for some, the challenge of, well, a literal challenge, romance reading style. How does that work?
Asking how a reading challenge works is a very loaded question, because there isn’t one all-encompassing answer. Some challenges are world-wide, spread on the internet for all to see, with strict rules, lively discussions, and a concrete way to measure whether or not a challenge was met. Winners may win some sort of actual prize, be it bragging rights, with or without a snazzy graphic for their webpage, a free book or book bundle, or any other reward the group may endorse.
Other challenges are smaller in scale, as small as one individual reader, but that doesn’t mean they can’t have big impact. The great thing about these personal challenges, which can easily overlap with new year’s resolutions, and possibly include books given as holiday gifts, is that nobody has to know. The reader makes the rules, keeps track of the whole thing, and it’s nobody’s dang business if they meet the challenge or not. For that matter, moving the goalposts during this sort of game is one hundred percent acceptable, and one might even argue, encouraged.
Some readers can go their entire reading lives without ever participating in a challenge of any sort, and, for those readers, it’s a win anyway, because they got to read the books they wanted to read, which is the best prize of all. Other readers like the thrill of the chase, going after a goal, and maybe discovering a new favorite somewhere along the way. Here, too, there is a lot of variation in the sorts of reading games we play.
Readers who use Goodreads have a built-in challenge available at any time during the year. How many books does a reader want to read? Punch that number in, and the site will take care of the counting, so all our reader has to do is read. Easy peasy. Want to read one book this yea? They’ve got you. Want to read a hundred or more? They’ve got you, too.
Other sorts of goals need other sorts of record-keeping, which works equally well for group and private games. Team or solo sports, if you will. Maybe the goal is not only to read a set number of books, but a set number of books in a particular genre. Maybe it’s all the books in a long-running series, whose total count is divisible by ten. Maybe it’s the entire ouvre of a particular writer, whether that writer has gone to the great book club in the sky, or is still putting out new works. This would definitely count toward moving the goalposts, and in the very best way.
Yet other games can gallop all over the map. Read books where the protagonists have particular names, careers, or carry around particular pieces of emotional baggage. Read books that take place in all fifty states, or every country on a particular continent. Read only new authors. Read only established authors. Re-reads only for a month, six, or the whole year. Read only library books. Read only e-books. Read only paperbacks or hardcovers. Let your friends, partner, child, or pet choose your books for a specific period of time, or trade recommendations with a friend whose reading tastes are dramatically different from yours. Who knows, you may birth another romance reader this way. Read only books from library sales or secondhand shops. Read only standalones, or only series, and only a complete series at one go.
The only rules to the reading games are that there are no rules but the ones upon which the participants agree. This is one sport where locker room talk is not only encouraged, but required.
So, dear readers. I turn it now over to you. Are you participating in any reading games or challenges this year? Why or why not? Have a link to a fun challenge to try? Pull up a chair in the comment section and tell us all about it. There’s room for everybody at this table.