Sunday, December 09, 2012

Sunday Salon: 2013 Reading Challenges (or making challenges challenging)

A few years ago I used to be something of a reading challenge addict - I used to sign up for a lot of them and then struggle to remember which ones I was reading for let alone completing them. A couple of years ago now, I took a step back and decided that I was going to only participate in a few challenges. It is a decision I have not yet regretted, so this year I am going with the same strategy.

I will, however, be making a couple of changes. A lot of the challenges that I have kept are not really all that challenging. For example, I love participating in the Historical Fiction challenge, not only because I am one of the hosts over at Historical Tapestry, but because I love historical fiction and I read a lot of it. So far this year, I have read 60 books qualified for the challenge, so not so challenging. Time to make some changes. Who knows, this time next year I might be lamenting the fact that I made it too hard for myself!

Here are the challenges that I am committed to so far for 2013:

What's in a Name Challenge (hosted by Beth Fish Reads)

Despite the fact that this is the only challenge I don't think I am going to complete this year (darn that creepy crawly category) I am back for another year. Here are the categories for 2013 along with some example titles from the challenge signup post

A book with up or down (or equivalent) in the title: Deep down True, The Girl Below, The Diva Digs up the Dirt
A book with something you'd find in your kitchen in the title: Loose Lips Sink Ships, The Knife of Never Letting Go, Breadcrumbs (Turning up the Heat)
A book with a party or celebration in the title: A Feast for Crows, A Wedding in Haiti, Cocktail Hour under the Tree of Forgetfulness (The Wedding Party)
A book with fire (or equivalent) in the title: Burning for Revenge, Fireworks over Toccoa, Catching Fire (The Firebird)
A book with an emotion in the title: Baltimore Blues, Say You're Sorry, Dreams of Joy  (Les Miserables)
A book with lost or found (or equivalent) in the title: The Book of Lost Fragrances, The World We Found, A Discovery of Witches (The Book of Lost Fragrances)

To see all the details, head to the sign up post at

Challenge website

Australian Women Writers Challenge (hosted at the challenge website)

I have been participating in reading challenges for years now, but I have to say that I don't think that one reading challenge has ever affected my reading in the same way as this challenge has. Nearly every year I have made it one of my reading goals to read more Australian authors, and I generally said I would be happy with reading 10 or so books by Aussie authors. Thanks to this challenge, I have read more than 50 books by Australian Women Writers this year, and a large number of those authors were new to me! As a result, it was never a question of whether I would sign up for this challenge again, and I am very excited to be involved in the challenge again in 2013.

I am signing up for the Franklin level (10 books read, at least 6 reviewed) but will probably read more.

Challenge website

Aussie Author Challenge - Hosted by Jo at Booklover Book Reviews

In a way the Australian Women Writers Challenge and this one were interchangeable to me this year, which meant that if I completed one then I completed the other. That's fine, but in 2013 I want to use this challenge to help encourage me to read books by Australian men! AWWC was created to address gender imbalance in reviewing but personally I have not great difficulty reading books by women, but I do read a lot more books by women than men. At the moment, I think only 13% of the books I have read this year have been by men.

I am therefore signing up for the Fair Dinkum level of the challenge. This means that I will be able to count four female authors to meet the criteria, but the remaining books need to be by men.

Have to say I love the button for this year's challenge too.

Challenge sign up page

Historical Fiction Reading Challenge - hosted at Historical Tapestry.

As I mentioned above this is a challenge that I finish pretty easily, so I will trying to think of how to make it make me work. In the end, I have decided that I will only be counting historical fiction novels by Australian authors for the challenge this year. I will still continue to read all the other authors, but they won't count for the challenge.

Because I am adding in this personal restriction, I am only signing up for the Medieval level this time around (15 books) which means that I should average just over a book a month for the challenge.

Alex did another fabulous job with the button this year too!

Challenge sign up post

Other than these challenges, I will most likely participate in Carl's challenges (Sci Fi Experience, RIP and Once Upon a Time challenges) and am waiting to hear what is happening with the War Through the Generations challenge. Who knows, I might decide to sign up for more, but I think this will be it.

What challenges have you signed up for next year?

Currently Reading

Les Miserables by Victor Hugo, The Cook by Wayne Macauley, Home for the Summer by Mariah Stewart

Currently Listening

A Breath of Snow and Ashes by Diana Gabaldon (on audiobook - only 14 discs to go!)

Up Next

The Twelve by Justin Cronin, Voice of the Falconer by David Blixt


  1. I'm doing the What's in a Name challenge, too, as well as the TBR Pile challenge over at Roof Beam Reader and the Around the World in 12 Books challenge at Giraffe Days. I'm not sure about the Historical Tapestry one, as I think I did pretty dismally on it this past year--I need to go back and count up my books to be sure.

  2. I used to sign up for lots of challenges, too, but it got to be overwhelming. Now I'm focusing on one challenge, the 1001 Children's Books You Must Read Before You Grow Up.

    Here's my Sunday Salon.

  3. No, I'm not signing up for anything at all. I used to, but like you, I lost track of what I was supposed to be reading, and I grew to dislike the pressure to read according to a particular agenda.
    I have an ongoing project to read all the Booker, Nobel prize and Miles Franklin winners, and I make an effort to read some things from 1001 Books You Must Read because the books are always so enriching, but (apart from being a Shadow Juror for the 2013 Man Asian Literary Prize which is a kind of challenge) that's it.

  4. I'm a bit of a reading challenge addict. I keep telling myself to back off, but I'm not successful so far. My strategy this year is to sign up ONLY for challenges that are within the parameters of my natural reading habits...I signed up for only 2 that would truly be challenging for me, but I'm reserving the right to back out without worry if "something comes up" and I can't finish them. :p

    My Sunday Salon

  5. Like you the AWW challenge is the one that has changed my reading and reviewing habits the most so I am definitely doing that one again. I didn't do nearly as well as you this year - reading only 16 books (with another one on the go right now) but a lot were by new authors and I stepped outside my reading comfort zone. This is my idea of what a challenge should do.

    I think that''s the only challenge I'll sign up for, as I did this year, as I have a few other personal reading goals I want to achieve and I'm also going to be on a judging panel for the first time ever so I need to make sure I have plenty of time to read those books. I do like the idea though of using the Aussie Authors Challenge to make sure I read lots of books by Aussie men so I will give that some thought.

  6. These look like good reading challenges that you've picked. You'll be busy. I am not in any challenges currently -- I like to go with the flow -- but that could change early in 2013. cheers.

  7. Lovely to have you back for another year of the Aussie Author Challenge Marg. Balanced and diverse reading of Aussie Authors is the goal for the Fair Dinkum challenge level in 2013. I'll be signing up to the AWWC also.

    Thank you for that kind feedback on the button featuring our new mascot, the echidna. Make sure you add your naming ideas for this little guy:

  8. Yay - I'm always happy to see people participating in the What's in a Name challenge. It's my favorite and the only one I do. I still have one book to read to complete this year's challenge. I'm reading The Ridge for Topographical Feature. I've already started looking at options for next year's categories.

  9. I'll be doing the AWW and Aussie Author Challenge again in 2013. I try not to overlap my challenges so I used the Aussie author challenge this year for men only.
    Of course I have my own challenge that I host again (The Eclectic Reader's Challenge) and I might pick one more when I get a chance to browse through A Novel Challenge at the options

    Good luck with your goals!
    Shelleyrae @ Book'd Out

  10. Some interesting challenges there. Combining australian authors and historical fiction sounds like a great plan.

  11. I might sign up for one or two challenges in 2013, but I found it lovely not to have anything set this year (although it was purely by accident, I worked so much late last year I missed all the challenge posts!)

  12. I think the historical fiction challenge looks like a lot of fun. I am not sure if I will join the challenge, but wanted to say that if you are looking for a great book on Ancient History, "Shadow of the Sun" by Merrie P. Wycoff, is one you should definitely check out- if you have a chance. It is especially a perfect read for those interested in ancient and Egyptian history .

  13. I was a challenge addict this year and I failed miserably, so I think I'll definitely take a cue from you and only sign up for a few for 2013. I'll be doing both Aussie challenges again too - I think they're the only ones I completed successfully!

  14. I am not sure if I am going to do any reading challenges this up-coming year... I sort of failed in 2012.