Raise the Bar on Your Personal Reading Challenge

Person reading

Even in the digital age, print books are a favorite; in 2019, 65 percent of Americans reported reading at least one print book in the past year, according to Pew Research Center. Get inspired to discover new books while nudging yourself out of your comfort zone with a book challenge. Download and print your own personal reading challenge list—available for adults, teens and kids—and the below calendar to plot out when you’ll tackle new reads throughout the year.

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1. Read outside

Whether you’re on the beach or in your backyard, the great outdoors offers natural light and a relaxing atmosphere to read a book. Plus, spending time outside can increase your vitamin D levels—and your mood.

2. Read about your heritage

Get in touch with your forebears by reading a book related to your heritage. Use this reading challenge as an opportunity to learn more about your family history and events your ancestors may have experienced.

3. Read a book solely selected by its cover

Never judge a book by its cover—except for this challenge, of course. When you’re done reading, reflect on the text: Did it fulfill or subvert your expectations set by the cover?

4. Read a library book

Studies show most Americans still believe in the importance of libraries. Show your local library support by becoming a member and checking out a book.

5. Read a book in which a character shares your name

You may feel more connected to characters of the same name. Consider the qualities you share with your namesake character—and how you differ.

6. Read while traveling

Whether you’re en route to vacation or on your daily commute, time in transit is prime reading time.

7. Reread a favorite book

Revisit a formative book from your past. Once complete, think about how this read-through compared with previous ones. Does your current perspective make the experience any different?

8. Read to learn something new

Challenge yourself to learn a new skill or hobby from a book.

9. Read a book published more than 50 years ago

They’re called classics for a reason: Older books can provide valuable insight into how perspectives shift over time—whether through subtle mannerisms from the author or overt themes in the plot.

10. Read a book set in the future

Speculative fiction has enthralled authors and readers for years. It’s also a valuable tool for telling stories and sharing timeless ideas in a setting outside of present conflicts.

11. Read a book that inspired a movie or TV show

You may be surprised at how many movies and TV shows are based on books. Compare the two for insights and fun.

12. Read a book based in a culture different from yours

Gain a new perspective and a greater sense of empathy by reading stories rooted in other cultures.

13. Choose a random Dewey Decimal number and read a book in that place at your library

We live out our days at the whims of chaos, the inexorable force that rules our universe. Why not harness this force in your favor? Use Google’s random number generator to pick your next read.

14. Read the autobiography of someone you admire

For inspiration and guidance, read about the successes and failures of a notable person.

15. Read a cookbook to learn a new recipe

Cooking is a valuable life skill that’s dissipating with younger generations. Go against the trend and challenge yourself to brush up on your skills in the kitchen.

16. Read a book originally written in another language

Doing so can introduce you to excellent foreign authors and captivating literary trends from around the world.

17. Read a book connected to where you’re from

While you may not think books connected to your hometown or state exist, they do. Do some research online—or ask your librarian.

18. Read a book with a main character of a different gender

Books in which the main character’s gender is different from yours can build empathy and broaden perspectives. While reading, think about how the story would differ if the character was a different gender.

19. Read a book with friends

Whether you are looking for a fun activity or just someone to hold you accountable for your reading, friends are excellent reading companions. Learning about each other’s different perspectives can enhance your reading process too.

20. Read a book that your parents liked

After all, they were once your age. When you’re finished, give them a copy of the book as a gift and include a handwritten note inside the cover.

Looking to learn something new? Take a look at these printables.